Starbucks announced recently that customers will soon be able to tip their baristas digitally, using the Starbucks app.
That's cool — except that I've never left a tip at Starbucks or any other coffee shop. Are we supposed to be doing that?
Apparently we are, according to Lindsey Monge, a barista at The Electric Brew in Goshen. Here's five questions she answered for me about how to tip the person making your coffee.
1) Do you expect to get a tip?
Yes. In my business, we don't really get raises or make enough hourly, so tips are our way of making ends meet financially. Sometimes tips alone are more than what I would make hourly in a day.
2) OK, so what if I buy a drink that costs $4? How much of a tip should I leave?
Really any amount is appreciated. I'd say with a $4 drink (a typical large mocha) anywhere between 25 cents and $1 is normal, but I don't think anyone has a specific number in mind. It only draws attention when someone doesn't tip anything.
3) If you make my coffee, will you get my tip?
At the end of a shift, tips are split between the people on that shift. A typical shift is two people.
4) Talk about the digital tipping at the Brew, with the iPad thingy. Do people use that?
The digital tips are very helpful. A huge chunk of our sales are digital, so when people use cards they're less likely to tip cash. The tip option on the cards solves that issue.
(Note: If you haven't been there, The Electric Brew has a touch screen that lets customers choose a tip amount. It is way cooler than scribbling a tip on the receipt you get when you use a card to pay.)
5) What else do you want people to know about tipping baristas?
I hope people realize that despite whatever awful day they have, we always try our best to make this a great experience. However they can express their gratitude, we will receive it joyfully.
Myron Bontrager, owner of The Electric Brew, says tipping is just an opportunity for customers to show their appreciation for the quality service they receive. If they don't feel it's worth a tip, then they don't have to tip, but it's available.
So do you tip at coffee shops? Why or why not? Let me know what you think by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact me on Twitter and Facebook.