This afternoon we went on a Tours For Tips of Santiago’s main cultural attractions. These tours are always fun in any country: students picking up a bit of extra money lead you on a 3-hour tour (is the theme from Gilligan’s Isle going through your head right now?) complete with drinks at the end and fun insights into bits of local culture.
Today, we learned about Chile’s fairly unique coffee shops. I’m a big coffee folklore person, fascinated by all the stories and traditions that surround the caffeinated elixir of life, but this one… well, I was gobsmacked.
In Chile there are four kinds of coffee shops: “coffee with legs,” “coffee with legs dark,” “happy minute,” and Starbuck’s. Tea is the preferred hot drink in Chile, so when a group of businessmen got together to try and promote ground coffee beans as opposed to the instant coffee most places prefer to serve, they fell back on a tried and trusted formula: use sex to move the product.
In Coffee with Legs shops, the windows are clear until about two feet off the ground, then frosted, then clear from about four feet up. This is so you can see the lovely legs of the waitresses wearing miniskirts as they serve the ground beans, roasted fresh. In the “dark” version, the windows are black, and the girls are wearing bikinis. In the “happy minute” shop, for one minute each day, the girls remove the bikinis.
I’m not making this up. The coffee with legs places are also about half the price of Starbuck’s. This is our tour guide standing outside one of the “dark coffee” places. While we were there, three men came out and had to walk through our group.
They had very big smiles. Unlike our tour group, who were staring in a kind of fascinated horror at the place…..