Cafe Society

Twin Perks plans to lift and separate the image of bikini baristas in Denver

Let's be honest. Boobs sell coffee.

If they didn't, there wouldn't be a couple dozen drive-thru coffee shops in the Portland and Seattle areas featuring baristas dressed in bikinis, lingerie and less.

The controversial concept came to Colorado this year when similar stores opened in Aurora (it has since closed) and Denver, and garnered opposition when the girls began advertising their wares by hula-hooping or parading outside the shops.

But Twin Perks Espresso, which popped up last Friday at 1628 Federal Boulevard, wants to differentiate itself by keeping the girls inside, says owner Donna DeVine. "They will not be walking out of the building in their bikinis. If they do, it's grounds for termination. If they go outside, they will be wearing street clothes."

Twin Perks was founded in 2009 in Vancouver, Washington, by Tracy Fields, a childhood friend of DeVine's who now owns five of the distinctive blue shacks.

"In August, she called me and said, 'Is there a reason you aren't doing this? We are so successful,'" says DeVine, a former executive recruiter for Qwest.

So Devine and her husband bought their own little blue shack and hired a staff. By the end of 2011, she says she hopes to have an additional three locations in the metro area.

"The types of girls I have hired are classy and beautiful and smart. One is a retail manager, another is taking her MCATs and trying for medical schools," DeVine says.

And then there's the coffee, which is a custom blend that is roasted in the Pacific Northwest and flown to Denver; there are 24 different flavors. Twin Perks also sells blended energy drinks, smoothies and snacks.

So why not just open a regular coffee shop? "It's a nice experience to have your coffee served to you by a beautiful young woman. It gives people something to look forward to -- and they are getting an amazing cup of coffee," DeVine says.

It also makes a difference that her company is woman-owned. "That's something else that separates us," says DeVine, who has five daughters of her own. "The girls want to work for a woman. They feel a sense of trust."

So, will the 43-year-old DeVine be wearing her bathing suit as well? "No, I'm the CEO and COO. You will never catch me in a bikini," she says. "It's not cougar coffee."