Krystal Cogswell wears a holstered pistol on her hip while pulling espresso at Jitterz Java in northwest Spokane.
“I figure if they can see it, maybe it will be a deterrent,” the 24-year-old said.
Robbers struck Jitterz Java twice in February. On Sunday, a man who appeared to be armed ran off after a barista grabbed her gun and called police.
The recent string of violence has owner Sara Chapel fed up. “The way I’ve been scheduling the girls is that at least one girl who carries a gun is always on shift,” she said. The women carry their personal handguns that they’ve been trained to use.
Three of the coffee stand’s nine employees already carry guns. Chapel and one other employee plan to start firearms training soon, and she’s encouraged the remaining baristas to do the same.
Spokane police wouldn’t comment specifically on Chapel’s decision to encourage armed baristas. Department spokeswoman Monique Cotton noted, however, “We would encourage anyone in any situation to call us. We have excellent response times.”
Police arrived on scene in three minutes on Feb. 18 and 28 and in four minutes on March 16.
“We are specifically trained to put ourselves between the public and a dangerous situation, so the best thing to do is call police as soon as possible,” Cotton said.
Jitterz Java opened about 10 years ago. Chapel took over the business recently from her mother, the original owner.
Other than the recent run of armed robberies, the last one occurred about five years ago, Chapel said. Nevertheless, she’s moving forward with her plan.
Customers on Facebook have been supportive about Chapel’s choice to make sure the baristas are armed.
“Let’s all of us supporters of the Second Amendment make sure we do business there at least once a month,” wrote one customer.
Cogswell and Chapel are not concerned that being armed will lead to a gunfight with a robber.
“Nah,” Cogswell said, “It crosses my mind, but when he came all those times, he never tried to shoot anybody.”