Skip to comments.Could tipping baristas become the norm?
Posted on 03/14/2014 9:58:03 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd
Starbucks has modified its mobile phone app so that US customers can add tips for baristas to their bill. Is it normal to tip in coffee shops in the US - and could it catch on in the UK, asks Tom Geoghegan?
The old distinction between table service that we tip and counter service that we don't disappeared 10-20 years ago, says John McCarty, a business professor at The College of New Jersey, who co-authored a study on tipping for the Association of Consumer Research. Jars for tips appeared in small sandwich shops first, about two decades ago, then spread to chain coffee shops like Starbucks, he says. Nowadays, lots of coffee customers in the US tip although it's not yet as widespread as it is in restaurants.
"Many people tip automatically and don't think through how much it affects the quality of service they get, or the rationality of it," says McCarty. So while a waiter in a top restaurant can greatly improve your dining experience over two hours, or sour it, it's harder to see how someone making your coffee can exercise the same influence. Nonetheless, McCarty himself tips 20% at his local Dunkin' Donuts.
Tipping for coffee is now more the norm than the exception, says Martin O'Neill, head of nutrition and dietetics at Auburn University, Alabama. He believes baristas in his local Mama Mocha's earn their tips due to their talent and exceptional service. "These people work very hard and putting a bit of extra cash into their pockets is not a bad thing," he says.
But unlike many table waiters, baristas at a firm like Starbucks earn above the federal minimum wage. One Starbucks barista in Wisconsin told the Toronto Globe that nearly all customers gave tips, providing an extra $1.50-$2 to her hourly pay of $9.05.
Despite the fact that many British Starbucks counters do have jars for tips, a Starbucks spokeswoman said there were currently no plans to bring digital tipping to the UK because fewer customers leave tips. Tipping is generally viewed with some anxiety and confusion by British visitors to the US - ironic, given that it travelled to the US from Europe in the late 1800s.
British etiquette expert Simon Fanshawe can't see it catching on. "For counter service, I can't quite see the rationale," he says. "I think it would be regarded by the British, in a rather snobby way, as a bit too American."
What's next? Tipping the kid at the drive up window at McDonalds?
Beats me, as I brew my own at work and at home.
I may tip if they have a jar, and I’m a regular, but I’m never going to tip 15% to a guy behind a counter. If I tip, it’s at most a buck, or whatever change I got back from him.
Tipping cracks me up. I tip for meals. I tip the guy that parks my car. I tip the bartender.
I don’t tip the guy that hands me a cup of coffee, whether they have a green mermaid on their shirt or golden arches. Never have.
For food and drinks I tip if I get table service.
I only drink straight black coffee that they just have to pour into a cup. No tip for that.
My “norm” and their “norm” are 2 different norms. This is their form of “social justice”. I guarantee management tells them that customers “owe” as a way of “paying back” to the community. Starbucks can avoid pay raises this way.
I wouldn’t tip at McDs because they spend no time on your stuff, corporate goal is you’re out in 60 seconds. It takes time for the barista to make your vente thingamajig with 2 extra shots, why not give them an extra buck?
Saw a tip jar at the make your own frozen yogurt place! I got a chuckle out of that one!
No. They might fall over.
“The old distinction between table service that we tip and counter service that we don’t disappeared 10-20 years ago, says John McCarty, a business professor at The College of New Jersey...”
I’d like to see this clown hand some kid a dollar bill (tip) at Mickey D’s or Subway some time.
I don’t even give them my pennies, and that would actually help me with the hassle of having to deal with those copper plated zinc disks. I don’t want to start the precident.
I hat them snotty nosed baristas and the wait; wait, wait for black coffee that is so friggin overpriced.
You chose Starbucks because you aren’t qualified for much else
I mean, digging fence post hole pays better.
It takes time for the barista to make your vente thingamajig with 2 extra shots, why not give them an extra buck?
Because they are paid better than minimum wage.
The point is... if one is inclined to even enter a Starbucks, then they are likely to give money away to people simply doing their job.
Does the receipt now come with an insult to customer math skills?
Does their tip calculation include a tip on the tax?
It takes time for the barista...
The old distinction between table service that we tip and counter service that we dont disappeared 10-20 years ago, says John McCarty, a business professor at The College of New Jersey...
I prefer cow tipping.
Just because they’re paid above minimum wage doesn’t mean you can’t give them more. I’ve always liked tipping, it means they work for me too. Especially if you go to someplace regularly, if you get a reputation as a good tipper they work harder for you. Got a co-worker that brings in donuts every Friday, goes to the same place for them every week, and he tips, they start assembling his donut order the minute the see his car pull into the parking lot, even if the place is packed he’s in and out in no time. Even behind the counter folks can do a better job for people they like, and since it is a job and they’re there to make money there’s a very easy way to make them like you.
yeah you actually get to take some money from the tip jar at the make your own frozen yogurt place.
I’m a greedy bastid who doesn’t go to those kinds of places. If I do order anything its delivery pizza and I always tip them well.
> Tipping for coffee is now more the norm than the exception
Not for me.
No it doesn’t. I worked for McD, 45 seconds start to finish for a dozen burgers or half a dozen big macs. And that’s doing it without layers, and a single set of equipment, during crunch time there’s gaps in there to get the next set up in 30 seconds, in the day I could send up over 100 burgers in the 5 minutes I’ve seen baristas take on orders.
Odd, really - I seldom tip at Starbucks or Tullys but frequently at the numerous indie places. No particular reason behind it except that the corporate places aren’t quite as hand-to-mouth as the smaller shops.
In general I wouldn’t tip for counter service, but will definitely tip if it means better future service like you describe if I’m a regular, at the table or behind the counter.
I can see doing that if you are at the same place every morning if you get your supersized double-whipped, extra frothy, honey-sweetened double mocha espresso latte frappucino something-or-other with extra cinnamon and a shot of caramel. Coffee black, not so much.
I actually had a pleasant experience, meaning “down to earth” barista, last year. I was early for a train to San Diego, so I walked across the street to Starbucks, and asked for a large, black coffee. “You want a venti drip Americano?” he replied. “I don’t know the terms, just a large black coffee, please”, was my answer. He looked around, nervously, and then in a low voice, he said “I understand, sir, but if I don’t speak in ‘Starbucks’, I get in trouble”. I tipped the kid a buck for a $3.00 cup ;)
No but the McDs drive thru could become the norm, instead of Fivebucks
Heh, Heh, you’re thinking of cow tipping!
Tipping baristas is right up there with getting hit up for a charitable contribution at the grocery checkout.
To either I would say, “I give through my church”.
That made me laugh. Thanks!
IF I ever would go to a Starbuck's for their crappy coffee...
And IF the coffee slingers (I refuse to use that B word) would lose the oh-so-superior attitude...I might....MIGHT think about tipping.
The way the food industry is evolving there’s layers of counter service. We used to always think of it in the McDs fashion, very fast, no personal interaction, mass produced premade products changing hands. But a lot of it isn’t really like that anymore, many places that are “counter” are cooking to order just like the more “non-counter” places, with a much higher product quality. Though of course it’s still possible to get that quick black coffee order from the new fancy counter. It’s not quite black and white anymore. I probably tip more often than I should, but by the same token I’m making good money so a couple buck here or there doesn’t impact my life, and I did time in food service and know just how bad that work can suck, and a couple bucks can actually make their day better.
I never go anywhere that has a barista, whatever that is.
One of my more amusing times at McDs was the day we realized the House charity box had gotten completely filled up but in the months (maybe even years) it took to fill up we’d lost both keys (the one to keep it on the counter and the one to keep it closed). We had a fun time trying to pick those locks in between customers on a slow afternoon.
Because they get paid by the hour; if it takes longer to make your drink, they already get paid more.
Would you tip the kid at McDonalds when you order a burger "hold this" or "extra that"?
It's your buck; tip 'em if ya want.
I tip bartenders, not baristas.
Amen. My tipping policy exactly.
What’s with all the tip jars at mom & pop convenience stores and pizza shops/delis too? If they want a “tip” for ringing up my order and handing me the goods over the counter here’s a “tip” for ‘em: just tack on what you think you deserve in tips to the price of the food!
Then I’ll decide if I want to buy your goods based on that price, the REAL price, evidently! Don’t try and guilt me into paying more than your advertised price!
I completely agreed with his character in that scene. ;-)
> Tipping for coffee is now more the norm than the exception
Not for me.
I know that it doesn’t take as much time, but it takes time. Maybe a smaller tip. ;-)
With extremely rare exceptions, nowadays operation of an Espresso machine by a “barista” involves turning a selector handle and pushing a button, not much more than complicated than operating a self-serve soda pop dispenser in a fast food restaurant.
It’s a wonder that coffee shops haven’t already turned the machines around on the counter and just let the customers self-serve. Perhaps ubiquitous self-serve Espresso machines just need one more generation of simplification before that ubiquity becomes reality.
You need to learn how to control your mouth.
Ah, mixture of Diet Pepsi and snot on my keyboard - thanks for that!
At less than 3 seconds a burger I think not being mean to them is tip enough.