Advice on Tipping your Barista

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Tip your barista. It’s not just good karma points, they deserve it. Believe it or not, barista-ing can be a pretty difficult occupation; good baristas are simultaneously hosts, cooks, servers, waiters, sommelier and disaster-prevention-control-officer all rolled into one. More on this in a future article.

I get asked about tipping a lot. When Square first came on the scene, my coworkers and I debated on the best way to present that awkward little “how much do you want to tip?” screen. Do we take the direct approach and just ask “hey do you want to tip us?” Do we silently leave it up to fate hoping folks are good Samaritans? I finally decided on a combination of the two. Feel free to adopt my rote script: “Thank you so much, the first screen is optional but I will need your John Hancock on the second.”

What I’ve  found over the years is people aren’t unwilling to tip. Most customers are actually quite generous. The problem I ran into was people didn’t know if they should tip per coffee shop etiquette and if so, how much. Opinions vary widely and there is not “industry standard.”

By now most can agree craft coffee is a serious industry that requires skill and knowledge. It’s just as taxing as other service jobs, more so in some ways and less in others. So let’s just put it out there:

Tip your barista like your bar tender.   

Please and thank you. I’d say $1 is plenty for a latte, $2 if you are ordering a few drinks. Give your barista a little more for personality. Be generous on the holidays. Don’t feel forced to tip but we appreciate it when you do. Don’t tip for bad service.

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