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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Guns, grounds uneasy new blend for Spokane coffee scene

Spokane is experiencing a coffee stand crime wave that is already having unappealing consequences for us caffeine-addicted consumers.

The real fear of banditry is driving some baristas to augment their attire with holsters and handguns.

This is a shocking departure in a city where baristas are best known for stirring up controversy through nudity and peek-a-boo lingerie.

But just the other day we published a story about a worker at the aptly named Jitterz Java (a fully clothed establishment, by the way) who has started packing a pistol to discourage criminals.

“I figure if they can see it, maybe it will be a deterrent,” 24-year-old Krystal Cogswell said.

I’ll concede that this Starbucks-meets-Second Amendment approach does open the door for some exciting new beverages.

The Mocha Magnum Macchiato, say.

The Fully Ventilated Venti.

Even so, I don’t see guns and grounds as being a very good blend.

Drinking espresso makes me jumpy enough.

Who needs the added anxiety from having to order my Americanos from a server with a big iron on her hip?

DOUG – “And make that a triple-shot, please.”

BARISTA – “Sure.”

DOUG – “Uh, you knew I was talking about the Americano, don’t you?”

BARISTA – “You planning to tip me?”

DOUG – “Absolutely.”

BARISTA – “Then, yes. I knew you were talking about the Americano.”

This could be a really troubling trend.

Back in the old days, when you mentioned coffee and crime you meant that weirdo sheriff’s detective who exposed his, um, maleness to a woman barista in Airway Heights.

Today, however, the espresso stand has replaced banks and quickie marts for punks who are after a fast buck and faster getaway.

Seems like every other week I’m reading about one of our coffee joints being knocked off.

I feel bad for Jitterz. According to our story, the business got hit twice last month.

And just last Sunday, some guy “who appeared to be armed” showed up only to hightail it when the barista snatched her gun and dialed the law.

While I applaud the grit that it took to chase away this creep, the whole situation has me thinking that there’s an opportunity brewing here.

If this column thing peters out, I think I could make a good living and get a lot of free coffee by hiring myself out as Spokane’s first barista security specialist.

I’m practically percolating with ideas on how to make our espresso stands safer, such as …


Too many java joints are built on the customer-friendly concept, with easy-access doors and inviting service windows.

Trouble is, this approach also makes these businesses open and friendly for thieves.

Under this foolproof plan, espresso stands would be remodeled to look like concrete vertical submarines, with a tiny, cup-sized porthole for ordering.

Once payment (including tip) has been submitted, the beverage would be passed out via one of those clawlike grabbers that old people use to pick up their socks.


There’s a good reason why invading a castle back in the Middle Ages could take forever.

Invading a castle is a very difficult thing to do.

Following this surefire plan, espresso stands will be surrounded by deep, water-filled moats with drawbridges that can be lowered for paying customers and raised at the first sign of danger.

True, there is an off-chance that city planners and building inspectors might be too closed-minded to allow moats and drawbridges.

Which is why our espresso castles will also have archers on the roof with boiling vats of caramel latte that can be dumped over the unsuspecting heads of intruders.


Espresso entrepreneurs on a budget can forgo the aforementioned expensive plans and take a cheaper page right out of the wild, Wild West.

Back when Wyatt Earp was roaming around, it was common for saloon owners to have someone protecting the place with a shotgun.

And for the right fee, I will gladly hide inside your espresso stand with scattergun in hand.

Say the word and I’ll come out blasting.

Just keep the Americanos coming.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432.

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