Is There a Right Answer?
Picture this, you just ordered your morning coffee and the cashier swipes your credit card and asks you to make a tip selection. It’s a lot of pressure. Do you just pick a preselected amount? Do you tip a custom amount? Or do you not tip at all? While most customers will opt to tip, determining the right amount to tip your barista can be tricky.
Things to Consider: It Isn’t Easy Being a Barista
I’ve worked on bar before, and being a barista is not an easy gig. At any third wave coffee shop, these baristas are highly skilled and have spent countless hours perfecting the craft of making delicious gourmet coffee. Some baristas might be paying their way through school before taking a corporate job, while others have made their passion for coffee a lifelong career.
The base pay for most of these baristas, especially at smaller local shops, is quite modest and tips become a crucial component of their total compensation. I’m not a proponent of tipping for nothing but showing gratitude for the skill and customer service you get goes a long way. Heck, you might even find your coffee gets a little extra attention or the barista will remember your name!
Things to Consider: Drink Type and Quality of Service
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think the type of drink you order should impact the tip. If you are ordering batch coffee that takes 2 seconds to pour into a cup, I think you can tip less. If you are ordering a pour over or anything from the espresso bar, those can take minutes of dedicated attention and that should be reflected in the gratuity.
I think quality of service should remain the foundation of any tip you decide to leave. Was the barista a pompous jerk that doesn’t deserve a penny or was she incredibly friendly and helpful? This should play a major role in how much you tip. Coffee doesn’t need to need to be merely transactional. In the right shop with the right people, you should leave not only with caffeine in your hand but also a smile on your face.
How Much Does the Average Person Tip For Coffee?
Let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about how much people are actually tipping. According to the 2018 Square Coffee Report, the average tip on coffee across the U.S. was 11.4%. When looking at the data, there is considerable variance based on where you live. For example, Alaska tops the list for tipping with an average tip of 17.5% on coffee, while New Jersey is at the bottom with a stingy 7.5%. If you want to fit in with the crowd, tip 10-15%.
Coffee Tipping: Final Thoughts
Tipping should never be expected but is always appreciated. As cost of living continues to rise and many coffee shops can’t afford to pay baristas their true worth, tips can represent a significant part of their salary. If you have the means to do so, leave a tip. If you can only afford 10% that is fine, if you’re feeling generous and can tip 25% that is great too. Most importantly, just be nice to your barista and they will always take good care of you!