Tipping a barista: When, who and how much you should tip

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Barista Photo

Coffee culture has become mainstream in today’s society. Whether it’s stopping  by your local coffee place before work, or grabbing a latte while out for a weekend stroll, there is no doubt that grabbing a coffee is part of your routine. When ordering your cappuccino or iced coffee, a tip jar or container may have come to your attention. Some larger coffee chains even offer in-app tipping for those customers who place mobile orders. But the question of how much to tip a barista is usually on people’s minds as they  order their usual cup of joe. While there are many methods of how to tip a barista such as cash, on a credit card, or in an app, the big questions many have are when to tip and of course, how much money to tip.

How Much to Tip a Barista

While there is no standard barista tipping calculator, there are some basic guidelines that are good to follow. Typically, it is recommended to tip waiters and waitresses 16% if their service is great and there are no issues. Most people tend to stick to the range of 10-20% when eating out at restaurants. 

However, the same rules don’t really apply when it comes to tipping your barista. Because coffee drinks can vary widely in price, sticking to a percentage isn’t really the way to go; instead, many experts in the field suggest tipping based on the difficulty of the drink, not really the actual price. What this means is, drinks that are handcrafted, such as lattes and mochas, warrant a larger tip because they are more complicated and take longer to make. Drinks such as these might warrant a $1 per drink if you believe the drink to be better than usual or the barista to go the extra mile when preparing it, for example Other drinks that are simpler, such as drip coffee or hot tea, might only warrant 50 to 75 cents due to the fact that they take less time and effort to make. 

Another common way to decide how much to tip is by rounding up to the nearest whole dollar. For example, if someone is paying by credit card and their total is $5.25, they would add a tip of 75 cents in order to make their total a flat $6.00.

While you shouldn’t feel the pressure to tip baristas anytime you grab a coffee, it is helpful to know the standard ways you can tip as well as the suggested amounts. That way, when the time comes, you will be prepared.


When to tip your Barista

One factor to consider when deciding whether or not to tip a barista is the quality of the service. Ask yourself how friendly they were, were they knowledgeable about the products and items at the café? was the order taken correctly? This aspect focuses not on the actual beverage, but more on the service provided. If baristas greet you with a smile, promptly take your order and answer any questions you may have, it might be a good idea to tip them.

Another factor to take into consideration is the quality of the actual product. Was your latte hot and flavorful? Did the baristas make your beverage as you ordered it? Having a well-made and correct order is often enough to tip your barista. An additional factor might be how helpful the baristas are in fixing a mistake. Let’s say a customer asked for a latte with whip cream and it was delivered without, the barista could warrant a tip based on how they rectify the situation.

Since it’s likely you would frequent the same coffee establishments, another factor in deciding whether or not you should tip is how often you see the same baristas behind the counter serving well-made  beverages with a smile. Being served by your favorite barista and receiving consistently good service could be a reason to tip. You might find that the baristas recognize you as a ‘regular’; you may be surprised that they remember your name or your order as time goes by!

Where does my tip go?

Where your tip goes is likely to be dependent on the method of tipping. If you choose to tip via cash directly to your barista, the barista that served you will either keep the tip or put it in a jar jar. The tip jar ensures the money is split equally between the serving staff.

When tipping via an option on the card machine, there is no guarantee that your tip will go to the baristas at all. Don’t be afraid to ask the barista which pockets your tip ends up: the baristas or the management? 

Tipping via an app is a completely different ball game. Due to the nature of apps – all apps are different so be sure to check on each! – it’s likely that the individual barista will receive the bulk of the tip, as the apps can take a small transaction fee.

How to Tip a Barista

In today’s modern world, there are plenty of different options when it comes to tipping. 

A tip jar, where cash and coins can be donated, is usually situated by the cash register or placed near where the drinks are served.  One drawback to this method is that you’d have to carry cash with you, a custom that is steadily dying here in the US. But this can easily be solved, as there are other methods that don’t involve hard cash.  

While not available everywhere, another common form of tipping is to add a tip to a debit or credit card purchase. This can be done either on an electronic tablet, which many coffee shops now use, or by adding the tip onto a paper receipt. No cash is required and the amount is simply added to the total. This is an effortless way to tip, but less updated coffee joints might not offer this option, so having a little cash on hand is always a safe bet. 

The final way that you can tip your barista is through a mobile app. Larger coffee chains offer the option to tip in the app when either placing a mobile order or using the app to pay either in store or at the drive-thru. This option is quick and easy, requiring no cash or extra steps. One perk to this method is that the tipping option is available for several hours after the purchase has been made. This is helpful because the customer can taste their drink before deciding whether or not they want to leave a tip and also how much they want to tip the barista. One drawback to this method is that not everyone uses the app and some may prefer to tip in cash in order to get rid of excess pocket change.

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