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August 26, 2004

Tipping debate: How much should you tip for a cup of coffee?

coffeecupA STARBUCKS GOSSIP reader recently posted this: "So, how much is in the tip jar at the end of a shift or night?" Let's hear from some Starbucks employees who read this blog. ALSO: What do employees and customers think is a reasonable tip for a drink order? FINALLY: I'll be honest -- I never tip when I use my Starbucks card (which is almost all the time). Starbucks workers: What do you think of the Starbucks cards? Are they hurting your tips? Chime in.

August 26, 2004 | Permalink


Starbucks stores pool tips weekly, and then divide the tips up according to the total number of hours worked per week. Each employee is then awarded tips based on an hourly rate. My store typically made between $2.75 - $3.50/ hr in tips. New stores start low, though, say $.74/ hr.

We calculated once that if every customer tipped a quarter, we would make over $4.00/ hr in tips. If we give you drip coffee, we don't care if you tip. If you come in 2 minutes before closing, and ask us to make 3 frappucinos, it would be kind to put something in the tip jar.

Posted by: becca | August 24, 2004 12:49 PM

Before someone makes the remark that it's our job to make frappucinos and we shouldn't be tipped for simply doing our job, yadda yadda yadda, I would like to preempt that comment by explaining that of course, we have to, however, we also do customers favors quite often (not charging for refills, not kicking you out when we are supposed to, letting people bring their pets in, etc).

Tipping makes us love you, and when we love you we make better drinks for you, give them to you faster, etc.

Sorry for the double post, but after re-reading what I wrote I could just see that response coming...

Posted by: becca | August 24, 2004 01:02 PM

>>not kicking you out when we are supposed to

When are you supposed to kick people out?

Posted by: Foo | August 24, 2004 01:11 PM

The tip revenue can vary hugely from store to store, with tiny "neighborhood" stores usually doing much better than the ones with a lot of tourist or mall traffic. It helps when said neighborhood stores have a good store team; the last store where I worked before leaving the company in January had great management and great baristas, all of whom had been there for a while and remembered everyone's drinks. So the customers felt like they knew the people at "their" Starbucks and were pretty generous with the tips.

On the other hand, before that I was with a flagship store in Chicago where there was insane turnover and a definite love-hate relationship between customer and barista. So we couldn't even count on tips from our regulars, because they wouldn't know who they'd be seeing from one week to the next, and nearly everyone was fairly consistently rude to them.

The Starbucks Cards never hurt tips as much as credit cards do; in fact, I've had many people say they would leave a tip if only there were a way to do it on the charge slip rather than having to carry cash.

In response to the earlier commenter about "tipping makes us love you," well, I treated my customers equally, since even the best tip rate in the world isn't enough to pay for more than maybe a meal out unless you're pulling 40 hours a week at the best Starbucks in the world.

Posted by: david nemesis | August 24, 2004 01:23 PM

Technically, the outside patio can be closed 30 minutes before posted closing time. If anyone frequents stores with active evening crowds, you can see how this could cause problems. I actually have problems asking people to leave from outside even after the staff has left.

As far as my comment about "tipping makes us love you" I stand by it. Ask a waitress how much she loves an asshole guest who tips 10%. I've worked in both situations, and though they are not equivalent, Starbucks is still more "fine-dining" than "fast food". Most customers know that whatever they ask for, they can get, regardless of whether its on the menu, or not. Try that in a McDonalds or something.

We don't hate people that don't tip, but we don't understand those who don't. I always tip anywhere, and I am far from rich. It has nothing to do with income, I think its simply empathy. If you've worked in service, you know.

Posted by: becca | August 24, 2004 01:58 PM

Tip for a cup of coffee? You guys are already outrageously over priced, and you want more? Its coffee for gosh sakes. I even have to wait in line to recieve it. Does this mean I should tip the counter help at McDonalds? Maybe you can tell me the difference.

Posted by: Will | August 24, 2004 07:00 PM

Seriously, Starbucks is one of the best places to work for (from what I read). They get PAID WELL OVER MINIMUM WAGE and plus BENEFITS!!!

Now, do I need to start tipping the supermarket checkers for checking out my groceries??? Apparently, they're usually MORE busier than Starbucks peeps (EVERYONE goes to the grocery store) and they get paid less than Starbucks peeps!

Posted by: chinh | August 24, 2004 09:05 PM

Will got to this one before I could.

You've got to be out of your damn mind to tip at Starbucks. It's already near $4 a coffee. Lord forbid if I'm buying for my girlfriend. Maybe add a pastry. Now I'm at $11 for 2 coffee's and a donut???

I'm supposed to tip on top of that? Hell NO!

It's not rocket science, you are just pouring a cup of coffee or frothing some milk. Give me a break.

This reminds me of the intro scene of Reservoir Dogs where they are sitting at the diner discussing whether to tip @ McDonalds.

McDonald's employees work a helluva lot harder than Starbucks and get no tip. Stop ur whining

Posted by: Deeznuttz | August 25, 2004 12:00 AM

Starbucks employees don't DESERVE a tip. Jeez, get a grip people -- you aren't performing a personalized service of any sort, you're pouring coffee (wildly overpriced coffee no less). I polled co-workers who frequent Starbucks (I don't) and couldn't find a single person who had ever seen a Starbucks employee do anything that went the least bit beyond their job description. Of course, nobody could even think of anything that would qualify in the first place!

Someone else here also pointed out that customers have to wait in line as well. Even in a hash house, the waitress has to lug your food from the kitchen.

Bottom line -- you don't deserve a tip of any sort. Consider it the highest form of kindness that you ever get one since you do absolutely nothing that warrants it.

Posted by: John | August 25, 2004 01:28 AM

"Starbucks is still more "fine-dining" than "fast food". Most customers know that whatever they ask for, they can get, regardless of whether its on the menu, or not. Try that in a McDonalds or something."

ROTFL! Obviously, you've never heard of Burger King and their motto "Have it your way."

Here's the skinny:

Fast food -- Customers stand in line to order and then pick up their own product

Fine dining -- Customers are seated and their food is brought to their table

Starbucks -- Customers stand in line to order and then pick up their own product

What a strange coincidence that Fast Food and Starbucks work exactly the same way.

Posted by: John | August 25, 2004 01:36 AM

Just stumbled onto this site, but here's my two bits anyway.

1) Tipping is the biggest rip-off by management I can imagine. I pay for the product, and THEN am expected to pay a big part of the employe's wages as well? You do the job you were hired for, and then have to rely on me to pay a big part of your wages as an optional gratuity. ORGANIZE and demand a fair wage and refuse tips, gang.

2) In spite of (1) above I do tip at a sit down. I do it from empathy, because I know I can't get that sore-footed waitress a fair shake by not tipping her. I tip based on service: was it fast, friendly, accurate, and did I actually GET the Tabasco I asked for, could I catch the wait-persons eye, get a frequent walk-by, a smile and how many stations was the wait-person covering. I tip big for good service given under adverse circumstances. A wait-person with two stations that spends their time jawing with the hash-slinger gets zip. And counter people do none of this. Do YOU tip at Mickey D? And becca, Starbucks is the Mickey D of coffee. Instead of slides, it's got a steamy thing for the milk and a cinnamon shaker. It is NOT "fine dining." (Were you able to type that with a straight face?)

3) I find it harder to tip when I know tips are pooled (almost universal, these days.) The person who gave me good service on Monday gets the same as the slug on Tuesday?

4) If you are giving me slower service and a less well made drink because I don't have a history of tipping well at your store, well...no I won't say it. Cheney would, but not me.

5) Y'all can ignore this because I loathe the pretentious overpriced Starbucks chain. The only time I go is with a group who won't go to Madge's Diner for a cup of joe. It really ticks me off when I order a large and some 16-year-old asks (pretentious voice), "Do you mean a vente?" And why not "grande" (large) instead of "vente" (which doesn't mean a thing in Italian?)

It's COFFEE, kids, and Evian is tap water. Really.

Posted by: Jerry | August 25, 2004 01:46 AM

One thing I like about most of the Starbucks stores I frequent is that the folks working there don't show an obvious interest in tips. They aren't staring at me trying to see if I put money in the tip jar -- when I do tip, most of the time they are over getting a pastry or making a drink and don't even see. Whereas in some other coffee shops, they stare you down and glare at you!

Now, I would tip more frequently if, as someone mentioned, the credit card slips gave room to write in the tips. (But lately they've gone to the "no-signature" thing for small transactions, so...) Instead, I give big tips when I come in with cash, to make up for the times I can't tip. And it would really really irritate me if my service was negatively affected because someone noticed that one day I didn't tip -- not realizing that the day before, or the day after, I tipped a large amount.

People do have a point, though, about tipping in coffee shops -- they are really fast food, and that is traditionally not tipped in American culture. Why espresso joints seem to always have tip jars is something I've often wondered. Maybe it's a Seattle thing? Because the espresso places in Seattle always had them, and so Starbucks did too.

Posted by: litlnemo | August 25, 2004 03:22 AM

At the Starbucks on Beauregard St. in Alexandria, VA, there used to be a chick working behind the counter that looked a LOT like Sandra Bullock. She was really cute. Haven't been back there in a while. But if she's still there, I'd just like to say that I'd gladly tip her if my frappacino came with a "happy ending."

Posted by: Brave Sir Robbin | August 25, 2004 05:57 AM

tipping at *$$? you all must be nuts. i dont tip at dunkin donuts for my coffee and donut. unless.... we have an area we can sit and have coffee and a donut or in the winter get soup or chili, and the gal that waits the table brings it to us. she comes to us and refills our coffee. she gets us creamer or icewater. and if we call her she brings us another donut. then we smile and each leave a buck or so, walk to the counter and pay. then she comes and clears the table after. that is the service i tip for. if i were at *$$ and i was sitting down i might tip depending on the service. tips are a "gratuity". that means you are greatful for the service rendered. and the fancy title of brewister or what ever the heck it is (sounds like an english lawyer) dont make you worth more money. get a real job at a resturant and try to learn all the dishes they have there, run from table to table, clean up after a family of five, dont break a sweat when a group of 10 ppl come in for dinner, take back the steak thats over/under cooked, remember the daily specials and know 10 ways ppl like thier eggs cooked. then you can and might just deserve a tip. but it would be YOU that deserved the tip not the "sluggard" (as was so elegantly put in an earlier comment).

Posted by: kat grodevant | August 25, 2004 06:07 AM

When Starbucks has good coffee, I will tip!

Posted by: JR Wilding | August 25, 2004 06:15 AM

I used to work a counter at a known coffee/donut chain with the initials DD, and ever since I am more sympathetic to anyone who does this kind of work. I don't know what Starbucks workers make, but it can't be alot in this economy. During the morning rush these people are on their feet and working hard doing stocking and clean up work on the fly that most customers don't consider as part of the process.

If I go into the local Starbucks at that time of day, and am served promptly, politely, & get a good cuppa, I have no problem throwing my change into the tip jar. It's not mandatory; it's just a way of saying thanks for good service.

How much? Well it depends on your order. If you're ordering one of those beverages that requires more than pouring coffee or hot water, I think you should leave at minimum a quarter or you're a cheap b******

Posted by: P_Mac | August 25, 2004 06:25 AM

I am a very generous tipper--*at sit-down restaurants*. There are a couple coffeehouses around here where you can run up to the counter for a take-out or grab a couch for a more leisurely cuppa. An employee gives you a menu, takes your order, and brings you your beverage (and/or your snack). And I tip him or her. I even tip Chinese buffet "servers" who really only top off your water and take away your empty plates.

But I don't tip for counter service unless I know I really make the person behind the counter jump through hoops for my order--and I almost never do. My drinks are barely customized and I don't order six of them right at closing. I appreciate my baristas and I show that appreciation by visiting often. End of story.

Posted by: Hirayuki | August 25, 2004 07:28 AM

"Tipping makes us love you, and when we love you we make better drinks for you, give them to you faster, etc. "

How about this.

You were trained when you were hired. Make it correctly. Every time. Hand it to the customer when it's ready.

If you are deliberately making it incorrectly or delaying handing it over, you should be disciplined or fired.

And, yes, lose the pretense. "I'll have the large latte, please." means give me the big cup, no backtalk.

Posted by: Bernie | August 25, 2004 08:30 AM

If I frequent a coffee place, I'll tip a buck every 3rd or 4th time I go. And only to people I actually know. But when I tip the coffee cart guy I go to here in Manhattan, he always looks at me funny. I must be his only customer that tips.

Posted by: higgins | August 25, 2004 08:36 AM

While I generally believe that starbucks is ridiculously overpriced, I still think that the baristas deserve to get a tip. I mean, they put up with a lot of shit from people who are mean and nasty until they get their morning cup of joe.

When I'm on a trip to my local starbucks (there are upwards of 64 stores within five miles of my apartment), if I see that the barista on duty that day is working particularly hard, I'll throw a few bucks their way. When I get a bitter and angry barista, I won't tip a dime because they don't deserve it.

I would tip my local barista more money more often if I knew that the money was going specifically to them because some of my local baristas work really hard and deserve every spare dime they can get. PLEASE REMEMBER TO TIP YOUR FAVORITE BARISTA!

Posted by: thinksdifferent | August 25, 2004 08:59 AM

In response to P Mac's "During the morning rush these people are on their feet and working hard doing stocking and clean up work on the fly that most customers don't consider as part of the process. "
Well first of all, how hard is it to clean up six square feet of floor and counter? Isnt that expected in ANY food or beverage store? It's not necessary to tip someone for doing the job they're already getting paid for. Not enough money? Look for another job.
Second, ive worked as a cashier at a popular retail store, and was on my feet for 12 hours a day, and i didnt just do the register. I had to clean the desk, displays, windows, fold clothes, place orders, run down to the stock room. Things that werent part of my job description. You think people tipped me after i rang up, folded and bagged $2000 worth of jeans and t-shirts?? Nope.
Starbucks shouldnt be expecting a tip, THAT is more insulting than customers not leaving one.

Posted by: lattelover | August 25, 2004 10:29 AM

Having worked as a countergirl at several pseudo-classy fast food places, I must say that the pooling of tips is truly not the worst that happens. Whilst I was working at a particularly progressive ice cream shop, my employer, who paid us the state's minimum wage, would take the contents of the tip jar at the end of each week and donate them to his charity of choice. That always drove me bonkers. I would not have cared had there not been a tip jar, but those customers that chose to put their change in it thought they were tipping us, and even if the money went to a good cause, it was still dishonest. Also, the obnoxiousness of our the shop's wealthy owner deciding that the 4.35 an hour he paid us was more than enough and that he should give any "overage" away sort of sucked.

Posted by: Former Scooper | August 25, 2004 10:41 AM

I tip nothing.
YOu get $3.00 for a cup of coffee.
You're not paid as 'tipped employees'.
Should I tip my deli guy?
Should I tip the Macy's counter person?

stop .... please.

Posted by: SteveO | August 25, 2004 10:48 AM

I only tip when I'm on my way back from a Bris.

Posted by: poochio | August 25, 2004 10:55 AM

I will gladly tip the first barista who doesn't try to correct me when I say I want a "medium" coffee. Not "benti" or "crumpo" or whatever the hell made-up word Starbucks uses, I want a MEDIUM coffee. Sadly no barista has been able to resist this temptation to date.

And the theory that Starbucks employees deserve a tip because they have to put up with grumpy people in the AM...well, maybe you shouldn't work in a COFFEE SHOP if you can't handle moody morning people! That's like working in a body shop if you don't like cars.

And for the record, the National Restaurant Association of America (widely regarded in the restaurant industry as a leading-edge trade association) lists Starbucks under "QSR", which means quick service restaurant. If Starbucks were "fine-dining" it would be listed under "FSR" (full service restaurant) so blow that theory away too.

The coffee at Starbucks is excellent, but if the company ever wants to shed their reputation as a snobby overpriced outfit then they will pull the tip jars altogether & improve employee compensation in some other way.

Posted by: Your Dad | August 25, 2004 10:56 AM

They're freaking baristas. They are the scum of the earth who are lazy as hell.

When you go to McDonalds, do you tip? When you go to In-N-Out, do you tip? Those kids work 10 times harder than the coffee brats at Starbucks, but we aren't compelled to tip them.

Plus, corporate coffee sucks. Drink Peets!!

Posted by: GH | August 25, 2004 10:57 AM

Everyone should have to work in the service industry...You can tell from reading these posts who has and hasn't done so, because people who have understand the importance of tipping in the U.S.

Starbucks pays above minimum wage, true, but minimum wage is still too low for most people to live on. And do you really think the "baristas" (this is poncey, yes) are working there for their health?

Actually, yes they are. Health benefits are one of the only reasons to take a job slinging coffee to yupsters & suits over a waitressing gig. Having done both, I can say the job slinging coffee is slightly easier - but then tips should reflect that. A quarter or fifty-cent tip for a couple of coffees is reasonable.

I, however, get my coffee from a street vendor for $1 every day and it tastes much better than burned-up icky sludge they make at *$$. Although you don't often see Nathan Lane trudging around in his sweatpants at the street vendor like you do at Columbus Circle...

On a side note, why are the bathrooms at *$$ always so disgusting?

Posted by: melindarocks | August 25, 2004 10:57 AM

I HAVE worked in the service business. I've barbacked, bartended and waited tables. I was smart enough not do it for too long, get a real job and not get to be some bitter prick thinking that my customers owe me something extra for doing my shitty job. It was MY choice for getting a lousy job. get over it.
Now I GET to be a demanding customer ... why?? BECAUSE I'M PAYING TO BE!

Posted by: SteveO | August 25, 2004 11:01 AM

I will always leave a tip at the smaller, hipster, local ma and pa coffee shops.

But at Starbucks? No way. It is a huge corporate entity where workers have the luxury of health benefits etc. It isn't quite the same folks.

Posted by: Crunch | August 25, 2004 11:03 AM

I tip a quarter every time. It's not a big deal, I think I can spare the money (otherwise, I'd drink my homebrew), and the act of acknowledging the people behind the counter seems to me, a human gesture-- and a more tangible one than a big smile and flashing a peace sign.

Posted by: Kate | August 25, 2004 11:06 AM

Why do you all care so much one way or the other? Why do you have to discuss this ad vomitus? Who cares if Starbucks employees have it easy? Who cares if they don't? Lets discuss something meaningful. Like the impact of mormonism on modern life.

Posted by: anarkey | August 25, 2004 11:08 AM

I go through at least two large Starbucks red-eyes (filter coffee with espresso) a day. I'll generally throw whatever change I have from $3 into the tip jar. About half of the crew at the Starbucks I go to seem to recognize me and will have my coffee ready by the time I get to the til. They often undercharge - occasionally they don't charge me at all - and they always give a friendly greeting.

I figure that's worth an extra .34c or so a coffee.

Posted by: GR | August 25, 2004 11:09 AM

Simply stated, fuck you and your tips. You're there to do a job, so do it! You are not providing a service other than to jerk my cappucino when I ask for it. Jesus christ! You and the assholes who put a plastic tip jar at the ice cream parlor and the pizza joint are all the same. Eventually, under your logic, all tasks performed will require tips. Perhaps I'll attach a jar in some way to my belt and when I vacuum the floor at home, or clean off the counter top, my wife can throw some change in there for me. This logic, that all work requires a tip, is why our society is in such an irreparable state right now. Customer service in most places (how many times have you heard the tired story of the retail clerk with the blank stare) is abyssmal. YOU are the reason why.

Posted by: | August 25, 2004 11:13 AM

$0 is a good tip at Starbucks. Same as at the supermarket or Taco Bell. I don't see the difference. I only tip if they are bringing the product to me at a table.

Posted by: Spike | August 25, 2004 11:14 AM

They serve coffee for christ sakes, its not rocket science. You're lucky to get a thank you.

Posted by: manx | August 25, 2004 11:19 AM

Bow wow wow. Woof woof woof. Wizz wizz wizz. Sniff sniff sniff. I love french poodles!

Posted by: smellydog | August 25, 2004 11:20 AM

I will always tip the cute guy who says:
"Thanks a latte. Have a grande", because seriously people, puns are funny.

Posted by: meg | August 25, 2004 11:23 AM

The corporatization of America is making us fat, lazy, and apathetic..."get a real job"? Tell that to an actress or musician or writer who's trying to make it without selling out to some stupid corporate 9 - 5 job. Just because you have one doesn't mean the rest of us aren't owed a decent living for doing the grunt work.

Got it?

Posted by: melindarocks | August 25, 2004 11:38 AM

My take on tipping at a Starbucks is based on the outfit. I normally don't have pockets or a purse to put my change in, so I will drop my change in the jar automatically. HOWEVER, if I enter a Starbucks that I didn't have good service from on a previous visit, I will clinch my sweaty palm around it until I can drop it in a bag or on my desk. And for the one or two times I've caught a Starbuck right before closing, I've dropped two bucks.

Posted by: Jove | August 25, 2004 11:38 AM

I used to work in a coffee shop similar to starbucks. All of us appreciated tips of any kind, even if it was simply the change left over from the purchase of coffee. I always leave at least that much--even for drip coffee--and sometimes more if the server is particularly nice, helpful, etc.

On a tangential note, I really think everyone should be forced to work at least one job in the service sector. Makes you much more sensitive to issues like tipping. I know it did for me.

Posted by: a&w | August 25, 2004 11:38 AM

hey, got linked here by gawker, here's my thoughts:

1. i know it's annoying, but not only are we technically not allowed to use small/medium/large in our vocabulary, when a customer orders a drink using s/m/l, we're supposed to 'repeat' the order using tall/grade/vente terminology. i can't say for all baristas, but when i do it, it's not backtalk, it's a clarification i have to make or else i get reprimanded.

2. c'mon people, you tip what you want to tip, nobody's judging you. most of the time, the person taking your order and the person making your drink aren't the same person, so it's not like if you don't tip i'm going to know and spit in your caramel macchiato before i hand it over to you. i don't care if you tip or not, and neither do the people i work with, unless you're one of those people who order 10 of those damn frappucinos and ask for extra extra caramel extra thick with the whipped cream blended in, on the bottom, in the middle, and on top, and expect me not to charge you extra for it.

3. as to the argument that starbucks is overpriced as it is...why use that as a justification for not tipping? if you don't want to tip, don't tip. if it's too expensive for your tastes or you don't like the service methodology, don't go -- this isn't like grade school where if you didn't have that new kids on the block backpack, you'd be ostracized for life. if other people want to go and waste their vacation money or their kid's college fund on a venti extra hot soy vanilla latte everyday, why does that bother you? i know how expensive these drinks are, and yes if it makes you feel better, sometimes i feel guilty about how expensive they are, but that doesn't mean i can't work here. in the grand scheme of things, i could be doing much worse, like packing cigarettes for a living, working for a right-wing think tank, not voting, driving an suv instead of a more fuel-efficient vehicle, not calling my mother at least once a month,.....--you know, that sorta thing.

4. i don't know if they stil teach this with the new hires, but when i was trained as a barista, they gave me a list of rules and a 15 minute lecture on tips and what i was and wasn't allowed to regarding tips (ie position of the tip jar, what graphics or words were allowed on the tip jar, the scripted speech i'm supposed to stick to, etc.), all of which can be summarized as follows: don't mention it, don't look at it, don't think about it. if you get some, gravy, if not -- no sweat.

5. i do have to put up with a lot of grumpy folks, but so does everyone. however, if getting a tip from you means that you have the right to be as grumpy as you want.... thanks, but no thanks.

Posted by: squarekitty | August 25, 2004 11:38 AM

I never tip at chain restaurants unless it's a sit-down place where they bring the food (i.e. Red Robin). The only reason I'd tip for a non-sit-down place is if it's local and I want them to stay in business, or if I just really like the food and I'm happy it's available. With chain restaurants, neither of those rules apply. I'd take a local coffee kiosk (of which our town has tons) over a Starbucks anyday, but mostly for the cost. That, and stores like Starbucks and Walmart really bother me with their ruthlessness.

Posted by: Jaycatt | August 25, 2004 11:49 AM

I've been a Starbucks counter employee for two years. Perusing the entries in this debate, I note a degree of free-floating hostility that requires some corrective comment. If we as service employees "ask" for a tip by putting a tip jar out, in what way are we harming, harassing or even annoying anyone? Obviously we are not doing any of those things; thus, the anger directed by some of the above commenters must have its source elsewhere. I think I know what that is: the "upscale" lifestyle we purvey. Having travelled widely in Europe, I cannot help but note, by contrast, how instinctually resentful the average American is of anything -- be it a person, a restaurant or a product -- that bespeaks deviation in any degree from the utilitarianism that dominates American commercial culture. Certain rarified enclaves excepted (Manhattan's upper east side, for instance), American aesthetic values start and end with the middlebrow -- that's where the customers are. A place like Starbucks -- that tries for a kind of pseudo-bohemian elegance (and speaks in foreign tongues of "latte" and "grande" etc) -- inevitably confuses and disturbs the Average Man, threatening his faith in an equal entitlement to the trough. In short, this tipping "controversy" is masking the true hidden battle of our times: will we or will we not grow up?

Posted by: An employee | August 25, 2004 11:59 AM

One (1) large coffee at Starbucks does not cost $4.00, you liars. Here's a clue: If you see a tip jar, use it. If you do not tip, you are a cheap bastard. Tipping has nothing to do with how much one makes or how hard one works, it's a custom in this country. Perhaps you just got off the boat. If so, welcome! This is a tip jar. Use it. This is how respectable, polite society behaves. Thank you.

Posted by: Stoned | August 25, 2004 12:05 PM

Thank you squarekitty...you have summarized it completely...end of discussion.

Posted by: gazilchee | August 25, 2004 12:05 PM

Zero. Understand? Zero.

Posted by: areukiddingme? | August 25, 2004 12:06 PM

First, to Melindarocks - a bathroom's cleanliness is a direct correlation of the cleanliness of the kitchen or food prepartion area. Ask any health inspector, and he/she will tell you the same thing. So, that says a lot about how dirty Starcraps is.

Second, to all the whiners who say "work in a service industry" - I have, and still think the tip thing at Starbucks is crap, and won't tip. Will I tip at Chipotle or La Salsa? Yes, because those kids are working their butts off, and you know they are working to make a better life for themselves, not spoiled middle-class slackers like the workers I run into at Starcraps.

Posted by: GH | August 25, 2004 12:08 PM

...I meant to say perfectly as well, squarekitty. Thank you...

Posted by: gazilchee | August 25, 2004 12:08 PM

Funny someone mentioned McDonalds up there. I prefer McDonald's coffee to Starbucks every single day of the week. Starbucks should be trimming the 1000 calories drinks they serve down to like 500. They're helping to make the country fatter than ever. And yeah yeah I understand that people have a choice, you bet, but it's a two way street. If we had healthier choices it would be a lot easier.

I just don't think people have a clue that the coffee drinks served have as much fat and sugar as ice cream and a whopper.

Starbucks = Gross!

And really, you stand behind a counter, you have an eaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasy job. I've worked for oh let's see, at least 10 fast food joints in my time and trust me that work is a whole lot harder, sweatier, dirtier and you're surrounded by even Worse food.

If I'm going to tip Anyone outside the restaurant genre it would be fast food workers. They have the true shit jobs.

If you don't like what you get paid or your working conditions we have a remedy for that, it's called an education, go get one so you can get out of the coffee shop business.

Buh bye

Posted by: Doh | August 25, 2004 12:09 PM

I'll tip when they declare the tips on their income taxes.

Posted by: Gimmeabreak | August 25, 2004 12:11 PM

A comment on the comment up there by squarekitty:

"know how expensive these drinks are, and yes if it makes you feel better, sometimes i feel guilty about how expensive they are, but that doesn't mean i can't work here."

That part about a coffee drink making you feel better.

That's one of the biggest reasons why America is so fat, we equate food with happiness and love. Such a shame. Most people in the US are so stunted and unable to achieve their dreams and goals and instead they settle for the second-rate lives most people lead and because they can't seem to put the leg-work in they fall deeper and deeper into complacency and start eating themselves out of house and hopme to mask the pain of their wasted lives.

And that sucks.

Food is Food people, Not Love. If you wqant to be happy go exercise, I guarantee you'll feel good after 30 min on the treadmill.

Posted by: Dammit | August 25, 2004 12:15 PM

Squarekitty I think I love you.

Posted by: squarelover | August 25, 2004 12:17 PM

It's pretty clear who has worked in food service and who hasn't. I worked at CB&TL (an LA-based chain) and it is seriously HARD work. You're dealing with pissy customers, difficult co-workers, boiling hot liquids and money. It's a dicey combo at best. No, it is not rocket science but it's harder than sitting in front of a computer all day, which I currently do. I tried hard to make people happy, remember their drinks and generally be nice. Throwing baristas a quarter every once in awhile ain't gonna break you.

In my experience, you've got to work a certain number of hours to get health benefits - some people can't do that and thus aren't really *all* that well compensated.

Stop being such tightwads or make your own darn coffee at home.

Posted by: CJ | August 25, 2004 12:34 PM

Yo, Dammit, chill out dude. You be talkin some heinous BS man. Me, my coffee mug and my crack pipe -- what more do ah need?

Posted by: BS-meter | August 25, 2004 12:35 PM

A small corrective: Venti is Italian for '20' and the Venti is 20oz. Wheras it's silly, and inconsistent -- they don't sell a sedici or dodoci -- it is not made up.

Posted by: | August 25, 2004 12:39 PM

If you drop a carumba on the floor, you should pick it up. ABB

Posted by: ayyiyi | August 25, 2004 12:55 PM

I just want to thank "An Employee" for the most brilliant one paragraph satire I've ever read. The tortured word-smithing, the self-contradictory condescension, the phrase, "having travelled widely in Europe"...absolutely sublime. Far, far superior to the fake editorials in The Onion.

Seriously, I don't know if there are any jobs that pay good money for parodying self-important Middlebury sociology majors and their ilk, but if so, you should be making well into six figures.

Posted by: Joe Howell | August 25, 2004 12:59 PM

You do realize that it is perfectly acceptable to throw a quarter into the tip jar for any size Starbucks order? And that the "tips" in question bear little relation to the 15-20% expected in a restaurant? Is this some sort of (really cheap) question of principle in your mind? Are you poor? I'm not a coffee shop employee. I'm just completely boggled by the insane fuss that some people are making over a quarter.

Posted by: Alyce | August 25, 2004 01:00 PM

I really don't understand the problem. If you can afford to drink Starbucks coffee, then you can afford to tip. You don't have to, but maybe some "regulars" can ingest a cup smaller than the gallon size and throw the rest in the jar, cuz most employees aren't "spoiled middle-class slackers" (because otherwise they wouldn't be working at all) like one person assumed, they are students/young people trying to get by in an expensive city.

How can anyone justify their annoyance at Starbucks employees for making little more than minimum wage and then expecting tips?! HELLO?! This is NYC where you still need to have three roommates and live in the far outskirts of Staten Island with what you make at a "decent" job. I don't see people riding around in Mercedes with Starbucks visors on.

Geez, no one is asking you to tip the CEO of Starbucks.

Yes, fast food workers should be able to ask for tips as well, but don't take it out on other service workers who are struggling with many annoying caffeine-deprived customers and their fancy drink demands.

Posted by: Poocus | August 25, 2004 01:08 PM

I tip every bartender that pours me beer and the skill level required is somewhat less than for a barista to draw me a perfect espresso everytime. Thanks for going the extra step and heating the cup. My local Starbucks and other local cafes handle my requests with grace -- I'm sure it's because they see that I appreciate their efforts in my expression and in the tip jar.

Posted by: The Pragmatist | August 25, 2004 01:38 PM

The only reason I tip Bartenders is because I'm afraid they won't serve me again if I dont.

Luckily I drink 4 times a year, usually at home, which is how I avoid this problem. Hellz ya.

Seriously, what it is about drinking? I hate it, tastes like crap and makes you feel stoopid and just plain bad.

Smoke pot live longer.

Posted by: Ha | August 25, 2004 02:05 PM

Glad to see you'll be tipping soon Gimmeabreak... I always claim my tips on my income tax...

Posted by: LethargicLass | August 25, 2004 02:25 PM

Shame on those of you who think working in the service industry isn't a "real" job! Without the people who are in that industry we'd all have to make our own coffee/ lunch.

Working in the service industry is not an easy way out - nor is it a refuge for slackers and people who don't have ambition. Frankly, not everyone aspires to be corporate wankers.

Where I live (not in the US) it isn't the custom to tip. Anywhere. Ever. However, our Starbucks stores have tip jars - as do many of our restaurants, cafes, etc.

I don't make a pile of cash. But I tip when someone has done a great job or gone above and beyond the norm for me. I don't just do it in cafes or restaurants - I do it in plenty of other places too. And where management don't allow staff to accept tips, I write a letter to the head office telling them how great their employee was. Anyone who puts up with the general public every day (even in the generally considerate society I live in) deserves praise in my book.

Seems to me that if you don't like Starbucks, their coffee, or their tip jars, you don't need to go there. Judging by what you've said and how you've said it, I think the baristas could use the break!

Posted by: laura | August 25, 2004 03:11 PM

As a former waitress and bartender, I made less than $3 per hour. That is usually the norm in that industry because employers expect that the servers income will be supplemented by tips. I also got taxed on these tips. I would like to know if any of you Starbucks employees make less than $3 per hour and if you pay taxes on your tips?

Posted by: JennyC | August 25, 2004 03:11 PM

'Venti' may be Italian for 20, but if you tried ordering 20 ounces of coffee in Italy, they'd shoot you (and not just because of the metric system).

Posted by: Tim | August 25, 2004 03:14 PM

"Everyone should have to work in the service industry...You can tell from reading these posts who has and hasn't done so, because people who have understand the importance of tipping in the U.S."

What a complete load of BS. Like just about everyone who wasn't born with a silver spoon in their mouths, I worked in service industries in colleege and I NEVER tip at Starbucks. The "debate" here isn't about tipping, it's about WHEN tipping is appropriate. Starbucks is McDonalds in green -- nothing more. People who choose to work their don't DESERVE a tip. If you want to tip them, fluffy bunnies and good graces to you, but absolutely no one should be guilted into tipping, especially to fast food workers.

Posted by: Next! | August 25, 2004 03:31 PM

Do Starbucks baristas really think we owe them a tip? Is anyone's head really that far up their butt?

How about a nice, hot cup of STFU? Get back to work java monkey.

Posted by: Steve | August 25, 2004 03:35 PM

Just to be clear: I have nothing against the employes at Starbucks, even less now that I have learned you are required to do the "ask back in Italian" thing (which I should have guessed.) I didn't figure it was a very well-paying job, and I've got nothing against anyone stuck in a slave job. With the Bush "recovery" we're going to be seeing a lot more of that, and the blithe, "You don't like it, go get a better job" IS a load. You may work your butts off. But that is the job you have, and the original question was "What's the right tip?"

By the nature of the establishment, I just don't see tipping. That's all. Again, I say "Organize, and get good pay for hard work." The employer making his employes dependant on customer generosity for a half-decent wage in just not right.

I've worked some pretty shitty jobs, and no one ever came back and said, "You degreased those parts off the machine lathe really well...here's a tip." Hey, "Stoned," that last fuel pump you used? I used to help manufacture them...send my tip to a good charity, OK?

For his info, tip jars at every quick service counter are NOT a national tradition, they are a new phenomenon as employers try to squeeze ever-more work for ever-less pay out of folks trapped in an economy in which it takes a job-and-a-half minimum to support a family and the REAL American tradition of organized labor is a fading memory.

I have to disagree with "An employee" above. Star$$, like bottled water, appeals to the deep-seated snob factor in our "egalitarian" society. As for the rest of his comments, "Joe Howell" said it all, and with better grace and humor than I could muster.

Posted by: Jerry | August 25, 2004 03:38 PM

Huh. Some people get so foaming-at-the-mouth angry over something as silly as tipping at Starbucks. WHile I do find this good for a giggle, it does make me worry slightly about your blood pressure. By the way, I have yet to see an armed guard pointing an AK-47 at someone's head, demanding that they go into Starbucks and order a cup of coffee. If that's not actually what's happening...then why are you THERE if you hate it so much?

I also love all the freaking out over the "overpriced coffee." I get the same thing at Starbucks every time: one venti light roast with room for cream. Cost: $1.64, including tax. That's eight cents an ounce. What is so overpriced about that?

Posted by: LB | August 25, 2004 03:58 PM

*throws two cents in the tip jar*

If you want to tip at Starbucks, great, but no one should feel obligated to tip at a fast food place.

Posted by: LyraNgalia | August 25, 2004 04:40 PM

What happened to the good old days (1992) when I was a 19 year old college student working at Baskin Robbins? I made $4.25 an hour and did not expect customers that were buying a $3 milkshake to tip me. And if any of us had attempted to put a tip jar in front of the register? Fired - simple as that. Tip jars are tacky and presumptuous. They were then and they are now.

Let me ask you this... If you were to stay at a nice hotel (say a Hilton or Marriott) and the front desk clerks (who just made your keys, suggested a restaurant, called housekeeping to bring you extra towels, etc) had a tip jar sitting out front, what would your perception of that hotel be? Try low-class and tacky.

And as for those of you taking the "if you don't like it, don't come here stance", get real. I am not saying I don't like the product or the service, I just don't like the unspoken "give me a tip" vibe. Therefore, I will continue to frequent Starbucks and I will continue to not tip.

Posted by: JennyC | August 25, 2004 04:41 PM

I get an iced coffee from starbucks everyday - and usually not the same starbucks, as I tend to frequent five or six different locations (easy to do when you're in midtown). I consistently get rude, terrible service from the employees, even those who recognize me and know that I order the exact same thing every time. If it's not eye rolling, it's a cashier who's pissed that I've inturrupted thier conversation with the barista, or empty milk containers, or not even bothering to prepare the drink as ordered and just slinging a half-full cup at me (and for what I paid, that cup better be full). I tip every so often when I'm not encountered by the above, but that's rarely thesedays.

Posted by: erikka | August 25, 2004 05:19 PM

here's a tip for u: make your own coffee and give your "tips" to the coffee growers of (south) america.

Posted by: teaslut | August 25, 2004 06:27 PM

I go to Starbucks because I do, in fact, like the regular coffee. The price is about $1.75 a cup... the local street vendors have upped their price to a buck and a quarter ... so I think its kinda worth it. I don't however tip... And I don't buy into that Venti , Grande crap... "Gimme a medium coffee." "Grande, Sir?" F-ing medium! They charge tax for X-mas sakes! I'd rather take the 11 or so cents left over and throw it at the pigeons on the way to work.

Posted by: Sacknuts | August 25, 2004 06:51 PM

I think the you-must-tip crowd are missing where the other side is coming from. Yes, no one's forcing customers to tip, but putting a tip jar out implicitly indicates that tips are expected (and certainly many of the comments here confirm that some workers feel they are entitled to expect them). People resent that because it seems presumptuous and out-of-place at a non-full-service establishment like Starbuck where tipping has absolutely no tradition. I'm not saying Starbucks workers shouldn't be paid more or aren't doing a difficult job -- but that's true of many, many professions in which you'd never see a tip jar out. If people want to tip, let them tip you directly; no tip jar is needed. The jar is akin to a big sign demanding extra cash.

Posted by: agreen | August 25, 2004 06:53 PM

I've just read a few more of these things and my blood pressure is going up.... I'm giving up coffee altogether. Those Starbucks bitches should go to school so they can get a better job... one that doesn't rely on loose change tips from bastards like me. Lemme tell from experience... these jobs suck. I've worked jobs like these growing up and they sucked then too. My advice... bust your ass now and learn a good trade... then bust that tip jar... you won't need it.

Posted by: sacknuts | August 25, 2004 07:06 PM

Whoa! Who would have thought such a big deal could be made over something so retarded.

I go to starbucks almost every day. I get a chai latte (nonfat). It comes out to $3.90. I can part with the 10 cents. I've given more to homeless people. And homeless people aren't providing me with my favorite beverage.

Do it, don't do it. Please direct your energies into something more worthwhile.

Posted by: Paul | August 25, 2004 07:40 PM

Coming soon to a cheap-o nabe near you: the star(struck)buck's vending machine. bring your own cup and save 10 cents.

Posted by: teaslut | August 25, 2004 07:55 PM

"Tipping makes us love you, and when we love you we make better drinks for you, give them to you faster, etc."

Sorry, but when I'm paying $4 a coffee you are SUPPOSED to make them better and give them faster.

Can someone tell me why it takes on average 6 minutes to get a drink @ Starbucks from the time I place the order? I really don't feel like tipping to reward this crappy service.

I always laugh when I look at the tip jar @ Starbucks. Tip? For what? Nigga Please!

In summation, these *$ whiners shouldn't receive tips and need to stop being being such "venti" douchebags.

Posted by: Rick_James_b_tch | August 25, 2004 08:55 PM

As far as I can tell, the rule of thumb is if an establishment is staff by moderately paid, well-educated young adults who will eventually be making a decent salary somewhere else, we're expected to tip. If the person behind the counter is an immigrant sending most of his or her paltry earnings back to family in another country, we're not obligated to tip. This is why I never tip, and if I did, I'd rather give it to someone who really needed it, or worked for it.

Posted by: Jason | August 25, 2004 10:05 PM

As far as I can tell, the rule of thumb is if an establishment is staff by moderately paid, well-educated young adults who will eventually be making a decent salary somewhere else, we're expected to tip. If the person behind the counter is an immigrant sending most of his or her paltry earnings back to family in another country, we're not obligated to tip. This is why I never tip, and if I did, I'd rather give it to someone who really needed it, or worked for it.

Posted by: Jason | August 25, 2004 10:05 PM

Wow. I agree, the anger in this thread is weird. Try being a roomcleaner. I found a $5.00 tip once on a dresser and it made me very happy as I was making $5.00 an hour and getting tipped as a room cleaner is extremely rare.

Service work is HARD. It feels GOOD to tip people who are working HARD for low pay. If I can afford to buy their yuppie coffee drinks, I can surely afford to tip, at least MOST of the time. I'll easily tip $1.00 for my coffee drink (thank God I don't drink 'em every day anymore!) It is CUSTOMARY because it FEELS GOOD. People who do not think tipping feels good do not have to do it.

I don't see why people are mad at Starbuck's because they are successful. You get what you want and you like it and you want it every day. That's why they're so successful. Why hate them for their success?

Posted by: alice | August 25, 2004 10:54 PM

If the coffee is so over prices go buy it somewhere else. You don't go to the Mercedes dealer bitching that it’s more pricy than Ford. If you can only afford a Ford, buy one.

I’m pretty sure none of you fancy pantsies who buy coffee at Starbuck aren’t earning just minimum wage. How much value do these people add to your life? Stop being so stingy and show your appreciation.

Posted by: Johan | August 25, 2004 10:54 PM

wow. there are some serious emotions about this tipping thing. if you want to tip, please do, we appreciate it; if not, then don't, but please refrain from treating us like less than human. Fair enough?
I would like to dispell a couple of themes that I see here:
1. We (speaking as a barista - for seven years) are not lazy slackers. I have worked at starbucks for most of my college education, right now I am working on a masters degree. I benefit from having a flexible schedule, this does not entail that I am a slacker, or somehow worth less than those who work in other jobs. I am certianly not in an abnormal position here; most of us are in a similar place in life.
2. I make good money - or even acceptable money. I make 8.50 an hour and work somewhat less than 20 hours a week - this has more to do with how many hours the store will give me than my school schedule. I take home (before tips) between 600-700 a month. this places me, along with most in store, non-managment (who, by the way, do not recieve tips), employees well under the poverty line. when I do qualify fo health benefits, I cannot afford to participate anyway, so for me (as with many baristas) the benefits rag is a non-issue.
3. the wildly expensive coffee starbucks serves has something to do with what the barista makes. Most baristas think that the coffee is overpriced as much as anybody else. None of us could afford the coffee habit that most of the cusomers indulge in. Neither do we, the lowly barista, decide how much the coffee costs. Please enjoy your coffee, its not our fault that it costs so much money. That is a simple fact of economics.
hey, thanks for listening.

Posted by: chris | August 26, 2004 12:27 AM

Let me start by saying that since I'm not a coffee drinker, I've never been in a starbucks. I have, however, been in a restaraunt that only provides counter service yet has a tip jar.

The criteria for me is simple. Wait staff who actually serve me and check on me get a tip, since they are paid only 2-3 bucks an hour. Counter staff who take my order and disappear make whatever they make, which is generally above minimum wage.

Man.. if I went to a Starbucks you'd all consider me a pretty cheap bastard.

And as for Becca, I can only think we are supposed to tip the staff for NOT doing their job. (Not kicking people out when they are supposed to?!?) I'll have to visit her store so I can act rude and obnoxious and not be asked to leave!!

Posted by: Adam | August 26, 2004 04:26 AM

In addition... I have seen several comments about people not working in the service sector and having any appreciation for what the people at Starbucks do.
I think those of us who HAVE been in the service sector most of our lives are the hardest!! All the years I worked in retail and helped customers, bagged, stocked, swept, straightened, yada yada... were all tip free! If I helped someone outside they would slip us a couple bucks once in a blue moon, and when they did, we let them know it wasn't expected, but appreciated!

The point has been made, correctly, that another symptom of our problems as a society lie in issues like this. Do your job and do it well. It's simple.

Hey.. how about if I come in, eat, and clean up after myself, I take a little something from the tip jar. That's fair, isn't it?

Posted by: Adam | August 26, 2004 04:37 AM

"Tipping has nothing to do with how much one makes or how hard one works, it's a custom in this country"

Um, no. Tipping originated because certain employees (e.g., servers) are LEGALLY paid below the minimum wage that other people get. So the tips are supposed to make up for the difference. They are also taxed on a minimum of 7% above their hourly rate b/c the government assumes that they get that much in tips. Servers are usually paid something like $3/hr in OH. Starbucks employees, however, are paid at least minimum wage. I see tips for the former as mandatory, for the former as optional.

Posted by: kent | August 26, 2004 06:18 AM

I've never been in a Star*ucks and avoid franchise operations where possible. No disrespect to the often hard working staff.
The chains of whatever sort have destroyed the entreprenurial spirit of our country. When we had "Mom 'n Pop" places there were whole families making a living and not lower wage food and beverage factories. It's a shame...
As for tipping... yes, when something is done to warrant it. I'd rather the actual person doing the serving got it and shared it with back of counter staff than have it go into a communal pot.

Posted by: Hadrian | August 26, 2004 06:29 AM

Some customers appear to be railing against tipping, and challenge Starbucks' employees to compare themselves to McD's or Shop-Rite employees. As it happens, the management of Starbucks permits and encourages tipping. Customers know this when they walk in and should tip according to their own calculations taking into account how good the service was and how generous they are. Sorry folks, but an avg. of 74 cents shows that you customers are CHEAP! You're willing to spend a few dollars on your own taste buds, but can't muster more than that? You're pathetic. Perhaps I'm odd, but I tip well for good service. I don't tip for bad, ever, and I make sure the employee knows when I don't and why. By the way, I'm not a Starbucks employee, but I have worked for tips. I am fortunate to have a job that pays well, so I don't need tips, but I remember when I did and the fact that I don't get tips for doing a good job doesn't enter my mind while tipping.

Posted by: Brian | August 26, 2004 07:06 AM

both sides make some reasonable points on the tipping at starbucks tempest in a latte cup thing going on here.

i worked thru college as a bartender and waitron and i was always amused by the condescending way i was treated by customers UNTIL they realized that i was working on a masters degree etc etc. i was still the same waitron/bartender, but i was now considered 'smart' since i was in school.

and yet when i graduated during the recession of the early 90s, with a Masters degree with honors, with experience in my chosen field etc etc, the only job i could find i my field paid $8/hr with no benefits, and as it was a 'contractor' salary, i paid my own social security etc. i had a "real" job in the "real" world, and my standard of living fell abruptly from my waitron days. So how smart was that?

i have a even more sympathy for the folks who work in any retail/waitron/bartending/fast food job these days. Social darwinism seems stronger than ever. If one works at a crap job it's because one has no ambition or ability. You are your job. And yet working as a waitron etc taught ME that some folks get the breaks and some folks don't. I was lucky enough to get my education and get on with life, but that alone doesn't mean that i'm better or smarter than the baristas and others out there.

if i go to a starbucks, i tip a dollar because i know that there but for the grace of god goes i. If i'm in an establishment that does not have a tip jar, such as a retail store, i try to 'tip' by being kind and pleasant and saying THANK YOU. If i get above and beyond treatment i send a note to management and hope that this will help said employee get a raise in the future.

i recognize the validity of the views of others on tipping, but i guess i see my participation in the tip system as a karmic tithe and i'm so grateful to my good fortune to be on the customer side of the counter.

Posted by: nadine | August 26, 2004 07:19 AM

Workers in corporate America get bonuses
Every holiday season people tip their nannies, doormen, supers, postal worker, newspaper guy, etc.
Retail workers get bonuses based on their own and the store's productivity

These people earn a salary, yet they get "tipped". Why? To show appreciation for services rendered...that is the whole point of tip...

Pulling the perfect espresso shot is not easy...NOT the automatic machines, but the good old-fashioned way...making a perfect latte is a science, and when people add all kinds of special requests to that...it is a skill...especially when you need to do it under 3 minutes...and there is a huge line and you've just burned yourself (again)....and the guy whose drink you just handed off says "oh, is this with skim? I wanted skim...i forgot to ask" So you smile and say "of course" and make his triple venti carmel macchiato one more time.

Give me a break...tipping, while not necessary, certainly makes for better karma.

For the record: a percentage of tips is taxed on a Starbucks paycheck, regardless of what is earned.

Posted by: formerbarista | August 26, 2004 07:24 AM

Tipping for coffee is insane considering the price (especially at Starbucks) is absurd.

I can make coffee for a week at home for the price of a large (i refuse to use the Italian word for large- this is America!) Starbucks coffee.

Starbucks makes such a humongous profit- why can't they pass that profit on to the employees?

Posted by: Jeffrey | August 26, 2004 07:26 AM

Starbucks does pass on the profit:

One of the only employers who offers benefits to part-time workers...20 hours a week minimum...and it is good health insurance (full medical, dental, and vision plans) with a relatively small contribution. I qualified just as I was leaving and I cried when I looked over the benefits paperwork (the coverage was that good!)

One of the reasons the coffee is expensive is because they actually invest in the communities that produce the coffee...building schools, homes, paying decent wages to people in third-world countries.

They give something back to the community around them...you can even apply to them for a grant (musicians, artists, writers, etc)

They also pay their workers above minimum wage...basically on par with retail...recognizing that if you want to attract skilled workers, you gotta pay them.

Look at their website...just because they are a successfull business does not mean they are evil.

Posted by: formerbarista | August 26, 2004 07:49 AM

To "An Employee:" Blow it out your ass. We don't want to tip because we're too middlebrow? We're intimidated by Starbucks' use of bull$hit-Italian terminology? Give me a break. Take your superiority complex and stuff it.

Tip jars make people feel obligated to leave a tip. Many resent this. You and others on this board then compound the ill-feelings by announcing that you feel entitled to the tips. Unless you're classified as a tipped employee (often paid less than minimum wage), you're not. Get over it. You should be thankful there are people stupid enough to tip you, and you should be smart enough to keep quiet about it, lest they get wise to you and stop.

p.s. Manhattan's upper east side is among the most vulgar locales on the planet. There's more taste in the average plumber's butt crack. Try the other side of the park.

Posted by: Stop Whining | August 26, 2004 07:58 AM

I tipped at Starbucks today because of this thread. I tipped 34 cents on a $3.16 bill. I thought that was a lot, but then realized that it's only a little over 10%. So I guess I'll have to start tipping 65 cents or so because 10% is pretty weak...

This seems insane. It's not like they are getting paid waiter discounted pay. What's next? Tipping the sales people at the Gap? I'm sure they make less than the workers per hour at Starbucks. Nobody would think you needed to tip them. They at least tell me if the jeans I picked out look dumb or not.

Posted by: MattInIndy | August 26, 2004 08:27 AM

MattInIndy, dear older brother, i am disappointed. I cant believe that you have fallen into the trap of tipping people that dont deserve it. Personally I believe that tipping people that are employed at a glorified fast food chain is asinine. I am not saying this because i am cheap...i have been known to tip up to 40% for great service. Look at the facts, you stand in line, they make your stuff, you pay, they give you the goods, and you leave...sounds like McDonalds to me.

Posted by: AllenInIndy | August 26, 2004 08:55 AM

Tips for coffee? I don't even like coffee! A tip for pastry? Now you are talkin'! Only if they warm it up for me and put extra frosting will I tip!

You have to go out of your way to earn a tip from me! (this excludes servers at sit-down places because I am known to tip between 18%-30%) I would tip a bag boy if he carried by bag to my car, but that is why I get a shopping cart! Tipping for hot water with an attitude is silly and insane! Remind me to tip my boss for not chewing me out today!

Posted by: KrautInGreencastle | August 26, 2004 09:05 AM

if you are pissed because people dont tip you, get a real job with a real salary. I work as a computer systems administrator, so along the lines of AllenInIndy's post... co-workers wait for me to fix their problem, i fix their problem (usually faster than it takes to make a cup of coffee), in return my company pays me, the co-worker leaves. I think i should get a tip from my co-workers...WTF.

Posted by: NoTippy4U | August 26, 2004 09:20 AM

To all you people out there bitching about tipping cafe workers... Do it because it is POLITE. If McD's had a tip jar, it would be POLITE to tip them as well.

You cheap assholes who are bitching about it are the same assholes that (probably) go in there, act a fool, and are nasty to the staff. You know what, spend the extra quarter and tip the people providing you a service and your coffee/frapa-whatever.

Posted by: LNJ | August 26, 2004 09:20 AM

Hey, GH- Do you tip at Peet's?

Posted by: LNJ | August 26, 2004 09:22 AM

I can't believe the big deal people are making out of throwing a stray quarter in the tip jar. The employees at Starbucks are extremely nice -- and I'm there often, at many different Starbucks, and for hours, using Wifi and writing. It seems a corporate policy to hire nice people. It's not the employee's fault they work for a big corporation, all you hairy "Go To Peets," people. And, what, exactly is wrong with big corporations? Think about who's working at Starbucks -- typical profile of a girl I knew from the Main Street, Santa Monica one: a girl who was an opera singer, with a husband getting his masters in architecture. Flexible hours were a must for her. One of the nicest people I encountered when I first got to California. You're going to begrudge her your quarter? Please.

Posted by: Amy Alkon | August 26, 2004 09:29 AM

LNJ, that is not the case at all. i am always very cordial to the workers. i just dont believe that they are doing anything all that "out of their way" to get a tip. in regards to being polite, if i put a tip jar on my desk at my work, do you think people would put money in it. if anything people would put comments about how stupid i am.

Posted by: AllenInIndy | August 26, 2004 09:29 AM

nope, i only pay in credit.

Posted by: AllenInIndy | August 26, 2004 09:30 AM

Didn't make it half way through all the comments, but a couple things are driving me nuts ... first off, no-one DESERVES a tip, if someone decides to tip, you've earned it, otherwise it's just panhandling. Personally I'd tip more (amount/often) at SB's if it wasn't a pooled tip deal. I have a barrista locally that is friggen great, i have my soy latte before I pay for it, she's gone out of her way and deserves a tip for that. But there are definatly people there that havn't earned it and the thought of them getting something someone else has earned drives me nuts.

And, Starbucks is not overpriced?! Maybe for brewed coffee, but if you want just plain cheap brewed coffee, go to the 7-11 or any local truckstop. Starbucks charges a price the market will support, if the market didn't support that price they'd have to lower it or not sell the beverages.

As for the equation to fast food. fair enough, I have been know to give gift certs and other non-monitary 'tips' to 'fast' food workers that have gone out of their way for me..

Posted by: PigDog | August 26, 2004 09:35 AM

Yes, PigDog, Starbucks is not overpriced. The Boston Herald recently did an interesting survey: it turns out that ounce for ounce, coffee at the "unpretentious, blue collar, working-class, regular joe" Dunkin Donuts COSTS MORE than the coffee at "yuppie, elitist, pretentious" Starbucks. Yes, including the frou-frou espresso drinks.

So Starbucks is actually cheaper than its primary rival. Interesting.

By the way...all you "I'll tip you when you pry the money out of my cold dead fingers" people? Has anyone pointed out to you that you're a bunch of worthless, obnoxious cunts?

Posted by: LB | August 26, 2004 11:07 AM


can't we all just get along?

Posted by: worthlessobnoxiouscunt | August 26, 2004 11:32 AM

I'm just throwing in my $0.02. I don't drink Starbucks, when I did I never tipped because I'm siding with the people who say they are just doing their job, I work at a bookstore and wish I could hold out my hand for some cash after I fetch a book off the shelf because we make slave wages (again, it's my decision to work at a bookstore), but I'm not opposed to those who do tip. I'm not opposed to tip jars. Tip if you want to. I don't (at Starbucks). It's your life. It's your money. Sheesh. And if the barista gives you a hard time (which I have never experienced), make your own fucking coffee. Stop going to Starbucks.

People I do tip: my hairdresser, taxi drivers, valets, waiters, bartenders, bellhops, gas station attendants at the full serve island.

Posted by: Alex | August 26, 2004 11:39 AM


I like your idea. As a matter of fact, I think I will add a tip jar to my desk. Hopefully, the next big pharma company I bring in to do contract manufacturing for syringes will tip me. Oh...probably not...

I might tip more if I was asking for something special....but this morning it took all of 25 seconds to pour in the premade lemomade, and premade black tea, and add some sweatener...

I think I will go by this rule. For every "extra" I ask for, I will tip 25 cents. For everytime I use the restroom without buying something, I will retroactively tip 10 cents per use.

Posted by: MattInIndy | August 26, 2004 11:48 AM

It's all a conspiracy. Part of Starbucks 3 part plan for world domination.

Step 1: Collect Underpants
Step 2: ???
Step 3: PROFIT

Posted by: eric_cartman | August 26, 2004 11:51 AM

now that is the best idea i have heard on the board. $0.25 per "extra"

Posted by: AllenInIndy | August 26, 2004 12:01 PM

OH Jason.. that is just TFF. but back to the original question on amount to tip. around where I live tipping 15% to 17 % of the total b4 tax is added is the average. so what is that.... 3$ coffee would be a tip of .45$ to .51$ hummmm. go to Kwik-Trip (gas station around here)and get it for 1.69$ in a 24 oz cup. you have a choice of six flavors (my favorites are the mexician hot chocolate and the sugar cookie) for a cappuccino and they have a few shakers of stuff to put in it, like vanilla and cinnamon and sugar, dont like them flavors... go to the Stop&Go, and if your not finding what you need... Lions Quick Mart is down the highway. not a one of them have a tip jar. but then you have to pour your own and add you r own shaker stuff. and if you want a longjohn or apple fritter... its right there in the case. just use the tongs when you grab one out. and tipping? if you tip the ppl at the gas station they will look at you like your an alien (space, not illegal). so the point is... you have a choice. if your offended by the tip jar, just dont go in to the *$$. or do like i do, ignore it.

Posted by: Kat G | August 26, 2004 12:57 PM

"Pulling the perfect espresso shot is not easy...NOT the automatic machines, but the good old-fashioned way...making a perfect latte is a science..."

Blah blah blah. It's your JOB.

Posted by: Matt | August 26, 2004 01:40 PM

"Starbucks is not overpriced."

All comparisons between brands show is that Starbucks is competitive with other coffee places. Whether it is overpriced depends on what consumers think. One of the reasons CocaCola, Pepsi and Starbucks are so wealthy and powerful is that they took a product that cost them pennies and managed to convince people to pay $3.00 for it. It's well known that the cost of the can is higher than the cost of the Coke in it and a similar fact holds for Starbucks.

Does this mean it's overpriced? The minute people choose not to buy it because it is too expensive, THEN it's overpriced. The fact that millions of people continue to line up for the crap means they must consider the price acceptable.

Posted by: | August 26, 2004 01:56 PM

or they are addicted to the suburban crack.

Posted by: AllenInIndy | August 26, 2004 02:06 PM

I tip - usually a dollar >IF< they are polite and make my coffee correctly. I am specific in what I want, and how hot I want it. If they can not get that correct then they don't deserve a tip. I tip a dollar, even at Starbucks.

Posted by: Bobbie | August 26, 2004 02:51 PM

I order a grande sugar-free vanilla skim with whip latte = $4.15
Thats no joke.....but it is delicious, but sorry...im also too broke to tip now

Posted by: lattelover | August 26, 2004 03:21 PM

I love have a choice to tip or not. You do not tip at McDonalds, their salary is built into the price of the product. Other companies do not add that surcharge and leave it up to the customer. Imagine the service at the mall if they worked on tips.

Posted by: Choices | August 26, 2004 03:58 PM

Geezus, you dont have to tip! If you give them a 5$ and get back $0.75, your life won't come to a screeching halt if you drop a quarter in their jar. So its up to you: drop a few cents in a jar and maybe make someones day a little better or keep your change.Unless, youve gotten really attached to those dimes the barista gave you in change.

Posted by: IsntitObvious | August 26, 2004 05:25 PM

Sorry, Jeffrey, you won't use the word "Venti" because "this is America? America (with the exception of Native Americans) was founded by immigrants, many of whom didn't or don't speak English as a first language.

It's no wonder that non-Americans get pissy about Americans being isolationist and xenophobic with comments like that.

Posted by: Me | August 26, 2004 05:31 PM

"I order a grande sugar-free vanilla skim with whip latte = $4.15. Thats no joke.....but it is delicious, but sorry...im also too broke to tip now."

Bitch, if money is that tight, STOP BUYING THE FUCKING LATTES!

Presto. Problem solved.

Posted by: | August 26, 2004 05:52 PM

The point here isn't whether to tip or not to tip. The point is that a tip jar is the same thing as the employees sticking there hand out and ASKING for a tip -- and that's inappropriate and rude. Customers who feel like tipping can give their tip directly to their barrista (who could then deposit it in a discreet jar hidden behind the counter). It's the jar that's so offensive.

I'm curious: Would the people vehementing defending the tip jar also vehemently defend a tip jar at McDonalds? At a child's school? At the drugstore? If not, why is Starbucks different? Other workers work just as hard and are just as underpaid.

Posted by: | August 26, 2004 06:49 PM

I just discovered this site today and can't seem to stop reading posts. It is actually fascinating to see how some of our customers feel about the environment we provide and it is also encouraging to hear so many partners defend their company culture. But there is one recurring theme here which intrigues me. There are a great deal of you making extremely viscious posts towards Starbucks and seem to truly have a distaste for what we are doing, But that leaves me with a question. If you hate us so much, why do you continue to come back to a site that will just fuel your anger? Why do you patronize our cafes? When I don't care for something I just avoid it. But that's just me.

Posted by: A_Store_Manager | August 26, 2004 09:39 PM

"All comparisons between brands show is that Starbucks is competitive with other coffee places"

If you are comparing a cup of coffee to a bottle of Cristal, then yes a cup of Starbucks is competitive.

I'm not Anti-tipping, I tip 15% when appropriate. I actually wish that McDonalds would have a tip jar. They actually deserve a tip.

Starbucks is just rubbing it in by having a tip jar there.

Posted by: [fake name removed] | August 26, 2004 09:49 PM

You know what irritates me. When you go out with that one person who is like, "I used to be a server(or in the service industry)" We all know who they are.

And they overtip even when the service is sh**ty.

I used to work at Burger King in High School before I went to college. Yes folks, college. *more on that later*

But I don't go around 10 years later saying, "I was once a server, I know what it's like."

To all the whiny present/former/future barista biz-natchez. Drop your apron, go to a 4 year college, get a degree in something worthwhile (like engineering or business) and get a real job where you don't have a tip jar in front of you.

82673 visitors saw this page and decided to get a life

Posted by: johan | August 26, 2004 10:00 PM

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks tipping at Starbucks is lame. My husband always gives a dollar because he feels sorry for the people there getting such low wages. He never gives the Taco Bell people extra money tho. I don't think it should be our responsibility to pay the workers for doing their job -- their employers should be doing that.

Posted by: Suvi | August 26, 2004 10:45 PM

I was referred to this site by one of my customers (thank you by the way)!!

1) Working at Starbucks is helping me earn my Master's Degree. Tips do not do too much more than help put gas in my car for the week to get back and forth from work and school.

2) I'm a supervisor and I: scrub toilets and urinals, clean up after people with bodily issues, scrub drains with toothbrush-like tools, and take out 25 garbage bags weighing 30+ pounds each every day. I work in the busiest store in the region. We are not lazy - we bust our rumps everyday in order to please our customers -- and we enjoy doing so with smiles.

3) Your generalized statements do not work for all stores -- a) we have a VERY clean store b) I do everything in my power to make my customers happy and to make sure they walk out of my doors a bit more cheerful than when they walked in. Why is that important to me? Because I have the ability to do so and if I can make someone's morning/afternoon/night just a little more interesting, I will.

4) You can never enter my store without seeing me smiling at EVERYone and remembering names/drinks. Do I do this for tips? No. I do this because I ENJOY serving these people. I ENJOY seeing these people every day that I work. I ENJOY hearing what is new with them and I ENJOY serving them a beverage that is to their standards. I forget the tip jar is even there until I have to FIX the money in it so people don't STEAL it. I have had people flat out hand me a dollar or two or three and say, "That is for YOU." Rumor has it that if you do that for your favorite barista, they're not required to put it in the "pool." I do, of course... because I know my other baristas always have SOMEthing to do with why I pleased that customer that much.

Do I work here because I can't find a "real" job? No. Why would I want to stuff myself behind a desk in a dusty cubicle before I have the need? I get to interact with an entire spectrum of people each day. It throws a little spice into MY life as well.

Is it always fun and easy to do my job? Heck no. If it's just a lazy, slacker job... let's see half of the people with this opinion toss on a green apron this Saturday and sling some drinks. I'm sorry so many of you have felt the guilt of throwing some change into the cup. I'm sorry you've encountered greedy baristas with glaring eyes. Most of all, I'm sorry that you haven't been getting the service that is expected AND required at all Starbucks.

5) Whether company policy or not, I do not correct customers on what size they order. You want a small? Cool. You'll get a small. Medium? Sure. It's all the same. It all works. What's important is that you're getting the coffee drink of your choice.

6) It's true -- most baristas feel your pain when the total comes up on the register. We know how much it hurts to dish over $6 for coffee and a piece of pound cake. There's this guilt that rises in my gut when prices get high. Some people don't realize it -- they're just hungry. You can tell when a new customer comes in and orders away until they realize how high the bill is and then are too embarrassed to change the order. We're human and probably couldn't afford our new-found coffee addictions if we didn't work there. We don't set the prices. We don't have much control over it. But you do. Call the number. 1-800-STARBUC. Share your opinion. The call center loves to listen.

7) It's good to know WHY you're paying the price you pay. McDonald's coffee (in this area) is already up to $1.16 and it will probably increase. Want to know why? Starbucks is leading the industry in teaching OTHER coffee companies how to pay their farmer's CORRECTLY. "Formerbarista" said it above... Starbucks has helped poor farming areas build schools and medical facilities. Baristas help form community events and DO NOT get paid to participate in them. Starbucks places dollar amounts on the hours the baristas volunteer and that money is donated to the charity.

So, when you pay a little more... ask yourself the last time Folger's donated money to your local community... AIDS prevention... the local Cancer Run/Walk... cleaned the river your children play along. Corporate isn't always so bad. The stability is nice.

Most importantly, YOU decide if you tip or not. Most baristas aren't paying attention. Heck, a lot of people wait until their drink is finished before they decide to tip -- and that's just fine. We're not going to spit in your drink if we don't hear a little "clank" after you order. I have seen people get only a drip coffee and put a dollar in the cup. It's just nice to know that some people appreciate our service and realize that we're not a bunch of high school kids having an after school job. Keep in mind -- the majority of baristas have a college education and are working toward something more. Each barista I have met along the way is furthering his or her education and using Starbucks as a stepping stone. It's your decision. Just know it's appreciated and usually NEVER taken for granted.

Posted by: Megan | August 26, 2004 10:52 PM

While I'm on the against tipping side, the previous post was very well written and informative

Posted by: flava_flav | August 27, 2004 12:04 AM

As a former partner myself, I do not believe that anyone is putting a gun to anyone's head and forcing them to buy Starbucks coffee, let alone tip the baristas. At the store I worked at, there were plenty of generous customers to make up for those who would prefer not to tip. Frankly, I don't think I was losing any sleep over customers upset with the prices and the 'option' to tip. If this is the sort of thing that bothers people on a day to day basis, than wow...priorites people.

And to the " grande sugar-free vanilla skim with whip latte = $4.15" customer...could you please explain to me the reasoning behind your drink order? I have always been perplexed, skim-milk but also whip-cream?? sf vanilla but also whip cream (which contains sugar?) Just a question...

Posted by: Kate | August 27, 2004 05:50 AM

I can't even begin to comment on everything that has been said since the inception of this debate, however, I would like to (briefly) chime in, and agree with Megan's post. In April I quit Starbucks when I was hired in a full-time, professional position doing PR at my Alma Mater. I had worked at Starbucks for nearly two years previous to this, and I, too, was a shift supervisor (the equivalent of a floor manager in a restaurant.) I, too, have to scrub toilets, clean garbage cans that have been sitting in the hot South Florida sun for 12 hours, pick up cigarette butts off of the patio (where there are abundant ashtrays) and pick them out of the surrounding landscaping, clean up the PARKING LOT of the shopping center we are located in (which is not even our property) because the focus on maintaining a welcoming, clean appearance is so important.

I recently came back to a second Starbucks to work part-time in the evenings, partly to save some extra money, but mostly because I miss working with the people I left. I miss the customers, for the most part, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they missed me, since it seems that nearly every other customer that walks in remembers me from the other store, and is so relieved to see someone they remember that remembers how to make your drink. If you think that service at Starbucks is the same as McDonalds, try to remember the last time a customer walked in, ordered their drink by name, and I mean "I need a Teresa," and everyone in the store knew exactly what this drink was. (Quad Venti Sugar-Free Vanilla, non-fat, four raw sugar, extra hot, extra whip Caramel macchiatto. Does this drink make sense. No, not in the least. But we remembered, despite the intellectual contradiction contained therein)

Anyway, what I would like to try to explain is that Starbucks isn't McDonalds, your baristas will truly go out of their way to make you happy (have you ever had a McDonalds employee carry your order to your car for you? Or to your table? We actually DO have table service).

Tipping is wonderful, I always do it. No matter if I am in a four star restaurant, or a tiny little donut shop that happens to have a tip jar out. I would tip McD's employees if I was allowed.

Starbucks is expensive, but it doesn't have to be. You want extras, you pay for extras. But if you want a cup of coffee, prices are slightly higher than McD's (and equivalent to the last 7-11 I was in!!). And its good coffee...I encourage people to stop consuming so much milk and sugar and carbs and fat and processed stuff and just taste the regular coffee. Its good!!!)

Anyway, we work hard, we care a little bit, and most of us are struggling in some form. As much as I hate corporate america, Starbucks is a good company.

If you hate it, don't go. If you don't want to tip, please don't. If it's too expensive, get something cheaper. No one is forcing Venti Frappuccino's down your throat. (And just for the record, Venti Caramel Frappuccino = roughly 40 grams of fat, and 500 calories.)


Posted by: becca | August 27, 2004 06:32 AM

"(have you ever had a McDonalds employee carry your order to your car for you? Or to your table? We actually DO have table service)."

I've never had a Starbucks employee do any of that, either. If you have table service, you'll have to tell the folks at my Starbucks--they obviously haven't gotten that memo.

Posted by: Hirayuki | August 27, 2004 08:14 AM

I work in one of the busiest stores in the country, a place where the nouveau riche non-working ex-Californians drive up to the speaker in their new Mercedes and ask for some God-awful concoction in their own freaking mug. It's the kind of place where inevitably someones wants ground beans in the drive thru, or a Starbucks card when we are trying to push 40+people through per hour along with the 120 per hour up front.

Some people tip well, some don't. Think of us more as bartenders. Sure I don't expect you to tip me a buck for pulling a straight coffee, but if you order a Decaf Venti 5 pump Carmel, two pump Almond, soy latte at 120 degrees with a light dusting of Cinnamon (actual drink ordered 5 times a week), you better give me something.

Besides, I control your daily dose of crack!

How about a forum on the evil Drive-thru?

Posted by: Fraphater | August 27, 2004 08:18 AM

Earlier in this thread, one of the Starbucks employees expressed suprise at the amount of "free-floating hostility" on display. Well, let me explain it to you: STARBUCKS EMPLOYEES HAVE AN ATTITUDE. They act like they're doing you a tremendous favor to take your money and serve you a cup of coffee.

I patronize Starbucks occasionally, but not frequently. Two of the reasons are the inefficiency of the setup (wait once to order and pay, wait again for the drink) and the rudeness of the staff. (The third is the overroasted coffee.) My needs are simple--I just want good black coffee, not that caramel-latte-soy-macchiato crap, so I don't know why it's such a strain on everyone. I also don't know why that merits a tip. But even if I did order something complicated, isn't the price supposed to include the labor cost of the product, as well as the ingredients?

I worked food service myself in college too. One of my jobs was in an ice cream place where I had to heft 50-gallon metal jugs of ice cream mix to waist height so I could pour them into the Emery Thompson machine. I also had to clean the walk-in freezer and the bathrooms; I even had to paint the place once. Nobody ever gave me a tip for any of that.

I think Starbucks employees should get over the attitude that they are all artists, actors and writers who "happen" to be working in a coffee shop. People would be much more inclined to tip them if they did.

Posted by: coffeedrinker | August 27, 2004 08:18 AM

"Think of us more as bartenders. Sure I don't expect you to tip me a buck for pulling a straight coffee, but if you order a Decaf Venti 5 pump Carmel, two pump Almond, soy latte at 120 degrees with a light dusting of Cinnamon (actual drink ordered 5 times a week), you better give me something."

Bartenders? I think not. As a bartender in college, I made $3 an hour. Employers can legally do that in the service industry because bartending is a job that is traditionally subsidized with tips. And I'm not complaining - I made good money doing so. But I also got taxed on these tips. Do you?

It is your job to make drinks at the customers request (for $8 or whatever an hour you make - NOT the $3 bartenders make). I think it is crazy of you to expect a tip based on extra requests. Whether I simply opened a beer bottle for someone OR made a martini, extra dirty, extra onions, stirred - I was appreciative of whatever I got and did not expect more from the latter patron.

I later worked at a retail store making $8 an hour. Did I get tips at that job? HELL NO! And I did not expect or want them. If I had placed a tip jar out at the Estee Lauder counter where I worked, I would have been fired immediately.

Posted by: | August 27, 2004 08:57 AM

As someone who has worked in retail sales (which is similar to the service industry in my opinion b/c of the shit we had to put up with from the rude and cranky customers), I would like to commend you for your attitude on tipping. At the clothing store I worked at, we weren't paid on comission and were forbidden to take tips even if they were offered to us (I was offered a tip on a few occasions). But on occasion when the customer actually took the time to write a letter to the company praising the service we gave them, it absolutely made that salesperson's day. It just made us feel like putting up with all the shit we dealt with was worth it because one person left happy.

But as for you "Next!" You are an inconsiderate asshole. When you said that people that choose to work at starbucks don't deserve a tip, you deserve to get nothing but the worst service. Only a true asshole like yourself would have complete disregard for how hard some baristas work. I'm not defending all of them, just the hardworking ones I see at the local shop by my office. I hope someone spills some hot coffee in your lap and you get first degree burns. Oh by the way, I can also tell from the grammatical errors and typos in your posting that you're a blithering idiot.

The same goes for you too "Steve" (who posted right after "Next!" You and your buddy "Next!" are two of the biggest assholes I've ever had the displeasure to come across. I want to find your local barista and leave them a huge tip just for having to deal with your inconsiderate ass.

Posted by: thinksdifferent | August 27, 2004 10:06 AM

"Two of the reasons are the inefficiency of the setup (wait once to order and pay, wait again for the drink) and the rudeness of the staff."

Ever consider that they're rude to you because you think it's just so horrible that you have to (gasp!) wait for them to make your goddamn drink? Do you expect the coffee to just magically appear in your hand right that second? You must be a real pain in the ass in a restaurant! "Hey! I ordered my spaghetti THIRTY WHOLE SECONDS AGO! This is SO INEFFICIENT!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I repeat: you're a stupid fucking cunt.

Posted by: | August 27, 2004 10:28 AM

If anything, all the posts I have seen here have convinced me to tip my favorite baristas when I see them go that extra mile.

As for the substandard rude baristas, they still won't get any tips from me, and I'm really wondering if I should make my displeasure known to their managers...

Posted by: thinksdifferent | August 27, 2004 11:01 AM

Definitely make your displeasure known! If for no other reason than that they are giving the rest of us a bad reputation. Every industry in the world has some rude employees, its practically a law of nature, but for the most part, Starbucks employees (except for those in airports, who aren't managed by Starbucks, but instead by the foodservice company at that particular airport) are among the kindest, coolest foodservice employees anywhere.

If you have a bad experience, tell someone. Or you are the only one to blame when it happens again! I don't mean that in a rude way at all...I am totally serious. I have come to be completely intolerant of substandard service, I don't have time for it. But unless you make your complaint known, no one is the wiser.

And to be honest, the perpetually rude barista is probably one who the rest of the staff would rather not work with anyway.

Posted by: becca | August 27, 2004 11:35 AM

Hirayuki: its not an official policy. I just mean that if someone needs help carrying drinks, or has to wait a while for us to get them a pastry or a drink, we will bring it out to them. And we bus tables all the time.

But I can almost guarantee that if you are rude to the employees, you won't get much in the way of extra service.

Posted by: | August 27, 2004 11:43 AM

Ugh, reading these posts makes me thank God I'm not working in service industries.

I tip most anywhere I see a tip jar. Why? Because it's clear the workers could use the money.

And the ninny who complained she didn't get tips after her $4.25 per hour counter job in 1992? Check the rise in the cost of living costs and the rise in the minimum wage since then. See anything significant?

This thread reeks of skinflints and bad kharma.

Posted by: JerryS | August 27, 2004 12:51 PM

"(have you ever had a McDonalds employee carry your order to your car for you? Or to your table? We actually DO have table service). "

Yes and Yes.

McDonald's will carry an order to your car in drivethrough. Example: You have a big order or you order something grilled fresh while in drive through. They have you pull forward a bit to let all the other customers come through and bring your order to your car. (So you don't hold up the drivethrough)

McDonald's will bring food to your table. Example: You order something grilled fresh or they have 90% of your order but are still waiting for the frys. McDonald's will have you sit and eat and will bring you the grilled food when it comes up.

The similarities between McDonald's and Starbucks are eerie. But NO they can't be?!!!

Well, McDonald's has drive through so there!

Oh, wait => come to think of it Starbucks has drivethrough. I'm so embarassed, I think I'm going to run over to McDonald's and apologize for my pompusness and tip a dollar to my burgerista for a Royale with Cheese.

Posted by: PALMela_HANDerson | August 27, 2004 01:37 PM

I wish to apologize to Next and Ugh and the citizens of this board for my comments earlier. They were entirely inappropriate. I guess I'm the real a$$hole here.

I was transferring my anger and I accept responsiblity for it.

Posted by: thinksdifferent | August 27, 2004 01:43 PM

No harm, no foul. To some extent I used to be annoyed at the implication of a tip jar, but then all I ever order is black coffee. But I have seen Starbucks employees work their butts off to fill a large and complex order, well deserving of any tip.

The only thing I think Starbucks could do better is have a standard tip jar that looks a little less like something the employees might have decide to put there.

Posted by: rob | August 27, 2004 01:48 PM

No one says you have to tip you barista. Its a nice thing to do, and starbucks isn the only store that has a tip jar. Many of my local cafes/food shops have tip jars, and i usually tip because its the nice thing to do. If you can afford 4$ for coffee then you can drop a few coins in the jar. They arent asking you directly, but they do appreciate it. And whats wrong with being kind to others.

Posted by: Somepeoplearebeggingtobeaborted | August 27, 2004 01:55 PM

This is kinda unrelated, but here's a question I always wanted to know.

Do you tip when ordering takeout? ie. I'm at home and place an order to the for a dinner to be picked up. Then 10 min later, I drive there and pick it up.

I usually either don't tip or tip $1.

Posted by: pickup | August 27, 2004 02:17 PM

Note: My question above was not talking about Starbucks but a sitdown restaurant like Outback Steakhouse, Dennys, Red Robin, Cucina Cucina, etc

Posted by: pickup | August 27, 2004 02:19 PM

i always tip for takeout, having worked as a hostess at a restaurant. I always did takeout orders, which entailed getting and packaging the food, etc. not much work, but if someone sent a couple bucks my way, it was a big plus. i usually tip about 10% on takeout.

think about this: someone in a restaurant is doing the work, and in lots of restaurants EVERYONE relies on tips, hosts, bartenders, bussers, cocktailers, and waitstaff. Chances are, they are getting paid under or at minimum wage because tips are figured into their salary. so no matter who does your takeout, they aren't necessarily getting an hourly wage to do it.

Posted by: Becca | August 27, 2004 02:22 PM

Although I don't go to Starbucks, I tip $.50-1.00 when I buy coffee (20-25% for restaurant meals). I've worked service jobs and many of my friends still do -- and it's not that it's an obligation, it's just such an easy way to help brighten someone's shift. It's friendly.

As for whether "tipping creep" is an issue, I kinda figure there are more troubling wastes of my money.

I don't usually buy expensive stuff, and I figure if I can afford the coffee, I can afford a tip...plus, the people who regularly prepare and serve my food know that I appreciate their work -- I consider that enlightened self interest.

Posted by: nermal | August 27, 2004 03:49 PM

Yes, when I get takeout from a sit-down restaurant I usually tip. Ten percent if they are nice to me - get me a glass of water while I'm waiting, and generally act like it isn't a huge pain in the ass to get my takeout order. A dollar or two if they don't show any hospitality, nothing if they are snotty (though I can only think of once that this ever occurred getting takeout, a little Italian bistro where there were two customers in the whole place, and the staff stood in the back and chatted for five or six minutes while watching me stand there at the host station).

And as for the comparisons to Mickey D's - I recently had an injury that had me walking with a cane. The Mickey D's staff - in a lousy part of town, where they get a lot of abuse - offered to come out from behind the counter and carry my order to my car. I've had them bring something to my table when it wasn't ready with the rest of the order. This in random Mickey D's where they certainly didn't know me.

I hate communist tipping - where the tips get all divided equally. It subjugates the whole idea behind tipping.

But at Christmas I will have Christmas cards ready in envelopes, with a lottery ticket or two in each one, to hand to service workers at places I regularly go, or just places where they are working their butts off. Seems like the people who get these don't really care about getting a dollar or not getting a dollar, they are grateful to be appreciated and treated as an equal - kinda shameful that such treatment is rare enough to be exceptional, but that's life as we know it.

Posted by: Boraxo | August 27, 2004 04:27 PM

"Anyway, what I would like to try to explain is that Starbucks isn't McDonalds, your baristas will truly go out of their way to make you happy (have you ever had a McDonalds employee carry your order to your car for you? Or to your table? We actually DO have table service)."

Actually, yes. I have had a McDonald's employee bring food to my table if the item was going to take a few minutes extra to make. And at the drive-thru, they'll often have you pull over and they'll bring it to you if it's taking a while. I doubt they're doing it to make you happy. They're doing it because IT'S THEIR JOB.

I don't think this debate that's happening here is about Starbucks OR McDonalds, it's about the fact that 5-10 years ago, you wouldn't see tip jars at 95% of the places you do now. It just doesn't make sense. Where did this sense of entitlement come from? It's a minimum wage job, end of story. Interestingly enough, in the province of BC, you must be paid at least minimum wage even if you are earning a wage that is fully expected to be increased by tips. "Tips or gratuities are not wages. Employees must be paid at least minimum wage in addition to any tips or gratuities they receive." (http://www.labour.gov.bc.ca/esb/esaguide/)

Sometimes when I'm in a place that you would never have seen a tip jar in a few years ago, I get the impression that the employees must have been bored one day and had nothing better to do than make a little tip cup with a sign that reads "Tip'z please! Thankx"


Posted by: Emma Dilemma | August 27, 2004 04:40 PM

You know what's worse than the Barista-Nazis?

It's the bathroom attendant Nazis in the club/bar where they want you to tip to get some soap or a handtowel.

That's the real enemy!

Posted by: Becca | August 27, 2004 06:16 PM

Is there really a Starbucks on the moon?

Posted by: Dork | August 27, 2004 07:19 PM

I think a lot of frustration about tipping in general has come out because of this thread. I don't think it just applies to Starbucks, but everywhere where it seems like people are requesting tips for "doing their job." I've been in some places that have a tip jar that says, "Tips appreciated, but never expected." That's the type of thing that would help a great deal in this situation...so people wouldn't feel like it was just "expected." I think that's from where the animocity stems.

Additionally, I think there are obviously a great number of people who work or have worked for the company before that have enjoyed it and feel like it's a positive place. Those people are a credit to Starbuck's as a company. Those people do also have to remember that there are quite a few Starbuck's where the employees take it a bit too far and are too serious. I think because of the branding of the company and it's products, where they have intentionally created the feeling of an upmarket setting, some of the staff feel that they aren't working in a coffee shop, but rather something much more. This, however, is not any different than when you go into Louis Vuitton or Gucci in Chicago and get treated like crap by sales staff that couldn't in a week pay for the clothes you are buying during your visit. These are the people who correct you when you ask for a large coffee by saying snidely, "One Venti Black."

The Starbuck's brand and branding method is probably a topic for another thread, however.

Posted by: MattInIndy | August 27, 2004 10:37 PM

As a former service industry worker I always tip. But when I frequented my local starbucks my tips and friendly attitude paid off. It had a pretty consistant staff of happy goofballs. They knew my name, they knew my order and they started making it when they saw me arrive. They cut me thru in line on weekends and just call me to the pick up area. One of the workers gave me her free beans each week during her pregnancy!!! I seriously considered giving these people christmas cards. I haven't found a coffee shop I've liked as much since those days. These people deserved every dollar I ever gave.

Posted by: gigi | August 28, 2004 04:27 AM

> "Geez, no one is asking you to tip the CEO of Starbucks."

Actually, indirectly, yes you are.

Posted by: | August 28, 2004 07:33 AM

NOTHING, NADA, ZIP, ZERO, ZILCH.No tips should be given to Starbucks employees. The coffee is overpriced as it is. What is wrong with you people? :)

Posted by: Nia | August 28, 2004 11:10 AM

Starbucks does take out a fixed amount of money from your paycheck for tips based on how many hours you have worked.

Posted by: britt | August 28, 2004 11:56 AM

Here's where I'm drawing the line for tipping: are Starbucks employees required to declare tips on their taxes? This has been asked, but I haven't seen an answer.

I'm assuming no, since they aren't paid like waitstaff that do have to declare. I'm usually good for the spare change, but I'm stopping based on this discussion. If I'm not tipping at McDonalds I shouldn't be tipping at Starbucks

Posted by: bill | August 28, 2004 01:31 PM

"Starbucks does take out a fixed amount of money from your paycheck for tips based on how many hours you have worked."

Wait a minute, are you saying that baristas are docked pay on an hourly basis, on the assumption that they are receiving tips? Back this claim up, suckah, because I sincerely doubt it.

Posted by: dubious in Miami | August 28, 2004 04:13 PM

starbucks assumes that you make 50 cents an hour in tips, and therefore imputes that into your tax deductions.

dubious in miami: you should be so sure of yourself, we all know what they say about people who assume.

Posted by: becca | August 28, 2004 04:41 PM

Becca is right... I worked for an indy cafe and our cheques were docked for tips. Also, every week, we had to declare tips, like a waitstaffer, and figure that into out tax forms at end o' year. It was a pain in the arse.

All you folken who say that if you don't have to tip at McD's so you don't tip *$ are just cheap sods who don't know what goes into be a barista. Yes, crappy baristas do exist, but there are idiots on every job... you non-tippers may just be the sod at your job.

As for *$ being expensive... that's right, it is, but for the most part, they are cheaper than the indy shoppes becuase they can afford to be.

You all can lay down (approx.) 3 bucks for a cafe drink, but you don't have an extra 25 cents for the person making it for you? That's just cheap.

Also, McD's and the other fastfood places can pre-prep your food/order. How would you like a latte that has been pre-made and left in a heater or microwaved for you? That is why baristas are tipped. It is made to order. You can order extra hot, or soy, or extra flavour, etc. That isn't worth a quarter. Get into the real world, do some real work, and pay for the service you enjoy... NOT need, but enjoy.

Posted by: LNJ | August 28, 2004 10:41 PM

To the LNJ who posted above:

Are you saying:
1) It takes real skill to reach into a glass display with some tongs and put a pastry in a paper bag?

2) It takes real skill to put some frappucino mix and ice in a blender?

3) It takes real skill to pour an ice tea?

4) It takes real skill to steam some friggin milk?

5) It takes real skill to pull the lever to pour some drip coffee?

Give me a break. Why don't you froth deez nuttz in your mouth you glorified milk frother

Posted by: mickey_dz_rulz_biotch | August 28, 2004 11:11 PM

If I buy a $3 coffee, my .25 cents goes to tax in WA State. So if I pay tax of .25 cents and tip .25 cents that would equal .50 cents down the toilet for steaming some milk.

LNJ I'll pay you .25 cents to shut the hell up.

Posted by: LNJ_is_a_dumbass | August 28, 2004 11:14 PM

"Also, McD's and the other fastfood places can pre-prep your food/order. How would you like a latte that has been pre-made and left in a heater or microwaved for you? That is why baristas are tipped. It is made to order." -LNJ

Made to order????

So are you saying that frappucino mix isn't pre-prepped? I guess ice tea mix or Tazo tea isn't pre-prepped. I guess the $2 pound cake is pre-prepped as well. Oh wait! It is. You don't know shit.

Speaking of microwaves, I guess that's why Starbuck's doesn't have microwaves in their store since they are all made-to-order? The hell you say!

Oh wait! You are a dumbass, they do have a microwave. Why could they possibly have this device since they obviously make everything from scratch. (note: this was sarcasm)

Posted by: beccas momma | August 28, 2004 11:21 PM

I think it's real funny how these pompous posters think they are o' so better than McDonald's/holier than thou attitude. "I'm not a cashier or a server, I'm a barista" "It's not fast food, we are a sitdown establishment"

I have more respect for someone who works an honest job at McDonalds. They don't try to sugar coat it and put in hard work.

It's like working for Boston Market. They keep calling it a restaurant and have policies for the employees to call it a restaurant. When we all know it's fast food.

"We aren't just employees, we are all partners". Give it a rest!

Wake up call. You guys are just trying to put lipstick on a bulldog. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, looks like a duck....

Actually, if it walks like a whiny sniveling barista, talks like a whiny incompetent barista, you know the rest..

Posted by: JerryS | August 28, 2004 11:29 PM

i'd just like to let everyone know that i no longer want to be known as a 'janitor'

all the 'partners' down here at JANITORIAL LOCAL 590 UNION have decided that we shall now be hereby referred to as 'SANITATION ENGINEERS' effective immediately

Posted by: will hunting | August 28, 2004 11:37 PM

To Tip or not to Tip...
Well as a barista for the good ol *$, it is appreciated when someone puts money in the jar, I try to say thank you when I witness it and I don't belive in glaring when someone doesn't. I'll be honest that tip money is most likely going for drinks. And yes it does suck to provide a 3rd place experience and have fun treating customers right, when you know you have other barista working who are bitches. In the end if you like the person who made your drink feel free to tip...if you didn't like the service don't tip. hell $.25 is still decent, the little change adds up. and yes it is expensive...but I don't think people truly get what goes into the whole *$ day of work beyond what is seen in the 2.2 minutes someone get tongs slides your pastry into a bag and gets your drip coffee. If you think it is such bullshit why not try working there?

Posted by: baristaj | August 29, 2004 05:57 AM

If you can't bloody afford to leave a tip because "Starbucks is too expensive" or "it's just a goddamn cup of coffee" then why the hell are you getting your drink there instead of driving through the nearest McDonalds?

Again, if the coffee is SO OVERPRICED that you can't BEAR to tip - I ask, why do you keep drinking there?

Posted by: Erin | August 29, 2004 10:00 AM

THIS IS POSTED BY THE ACTUAL AMY ALKON, of advicegoddess.com. Jim, would you please remove my name from the imposter's post. The post put up by me is the one talking about Santa Monica and the opera singer who used to work there.

As for whatever chintzy buttwipe posted the following using my name -- this is not my remark:

"All comparisons between brands show is that Starbucks is competitive with other coffee places"

If you are comparing a cup of coffee to a bottle of Cristal, then yes a cup of Starbucks is competitive.

I'm not Anti-tipping, I tip 15% when appropriate. I actually wish that McDonalds would have a tip jar. They actually deserve a tip.

Starbucks is just rubbing it in by having a tip jar there.

Posted by: Amy_Alkon | August 26, 2004 09:49 PM -- NO, SOME IMPOSTER WEENIE POSTED THIS.

I AM Amy Alkon, and I can't imagine anybody being so attached to a quarter. People working at Starbucks, according to my observation, tend to be either in the arts, and needing a part-time job, or working while they go to school. If a coffee there, and a quarter chaser in their tip jar, is out of your price range, stay home and make your own. I find that I generally like Starbucks' employees, who tend to be friendly and accomodating, and I like going to Starbucks (although, on a critical note, I think much of their pastry is too huge and tastes like particle board).
--Amy Alkon

Posted by: Amy Alkon | August 29, 2004 06:47 PM

To those who say they encounter "attitude" at Starbucks -- perhaps it's in response to your own? Maybe try getting off your cell phone as if you're speaking to an actual person, not encountering a cash register button-pushing annoyance with legs. Next, try actually saying hello to the person, and adding a wee smile before ordering, and chances are, you'll get a friendly greeting back. Rocket science it's not.

No, every Starbucks employee in the universe isn't going to be Mr. or Miss Congeniality. But, I go to a lot of Starbucks, thanks to the T-Mobile WiFi, and generally, the people working there are friendly and helpful.

Posted by: Amy Alkon (the real one, not the weenie imposter) | August 29, 2004 06:55 PM

Actually, just what is the difference between a squeegie kid and a coffee pourer. Maybe squeegee kid needs a fancy title.

Posted by: Wall | August 29, 2004 07:47 PM

I just wanted to chime in to those who think baristas don't work hard. That's total bullsh**! This was one of the more physically and emotionally demanding jobs I have ever had (you try dealing with high-maintenance and whiny customers for 8+ hours a day).

For all of you moaning about how baristas don't deserve tips because of over-priced coffee, I only have this to say to you - you are probably the same customers who order coffee extra hot or complain if your drink takes 5 seconds longer to make on a busy morning. Baristas don't get paid enough to deal with the likes of you and believe me, in certain cities, it seems like all of your customers are high maintenance.

While I will agree that some baristas do the bare minimum of work, there are plenty of others who constantly restock the pastry case, the condiments area and who really view making drinks as an artform and try to remember the drink orders of regular customers. The night shift also cleans and mops the entire store and does this all while still serving customers.

In light of my past food-service industry experience (I worked at a restaurant where I was a jack of all trades and was sorely under-tipped for performing the same services of a waitress at a counter), I try to tip every time I go to *$$s. Usually spare change, but probably a dollar once every 10 visits or so, particularly if I had an extensive and complicated multi-drink order.

Also, yes, *$$s offers health benefits - but not every worker qualifies. Keep in mind that several of your local baristas are students or perhaps are working two jobs (I had a full time job that paid maybe $10 an hour and I worked at *$$s at night to help pay the rent). When it was a good week for tips, I always appreciated it because that was money that I could actually do something fun with and not worry about rent and bills.

Posted by: Ex-Barista | August 30, 2004 09:07 AM

All people who are slaving at hourly wages should get a tip. When you are pushing some huge overweight pt down to the lobby to go home. You should get a tip. If you are helping someone get their grocery in the trunk. Tip them. If you ask the gas station attendant for extra help serving you 100 lottery tickets. Tip them. As for someone who just pours you coffee and gives you a smile. If you feel good about it, tip them. You do not have to, but its nice to know you count and your appreciated no matter what you are doing for another. Hats off to all service personnel. You make the world a better place.

Posted by: sara | August 30, 2004 10:17 AM

I don’t leave tips at coffee shops. You go up, you order, you pay. It’s the SAME exact process as McDonald’s, but there’s no tip jar there.

Posted by: Diaz | August 30, 2004 11:38 AM

You aren't required to tip.
You aren't required to be nice to the barista who remembers you by name and the weird combination of latte you drink.
You aren't required to go to Starbuck's.
Being polite is just fine too.
All I can say is that while I worked at Bucky's it made a difference to me knowing that you tipped because you thought I did a good job, I didn't expect it and neither do others. (If they do then they are selfish)
And yes, we did have to make the frappucino mix, the tea and while we didn't make the pastries, we spend time arranging them to always be fresh and arranged nicely so that you aren't stuck with broken pastry. We do give a crap if that's what you are debating...

Posted by: fredlet | August 30, 2004 07:21 PM

oh and as for the cleanliness of the bathroom... when there's only one and people yell at you when you keepo them out of it to clean it... you are officially on your own.
So stop pissing on the floor you animals.

Posted by: fredlet | August 30, 2004 07:51 PM

After reading some of the comments made, I find it hard not to respond. For every person who thinks they know what it's like working for Starbucks, I can guarantee that you wouldn't last a day. It's not about JUST POURING COFFEE!!!!! Let me paint a clearer picture. Imagine if you will (that you are at the espresso bar): You've got 5 drinks waiting to be made. Not only do you have to steam 2 containers of milk (one whole milk, one non-fat), you have to steam a seperate container of Soy milk b/c one of the drinks has soy milk. While you're steaming the milk, you have to pull your shots of espresso, put whatever syrups or dressing the drinks require, making sure you are doing it to what the recipe calls for, make sure the milk is steamed to the right temperture, make sure your espresso shot is within the time frame for a "perfect shot", finish the drink, hand it to the customer....and all the while that you're doing all this, more drinks are being called to you, so in between what you're already doing, you have to listen to what is being called out, get the cup, marking the cup with the customization of the drinks, and calling the drink back to confirm the drink. Take all of this and about 5 or 6 more steps I left out for the sake of summerizing and repeat it for about 6 to 7 hours a day. And it's only 1/4 of what we do in a day! For those of you who are completely unaware and uneducated about the process of making an espresso drink, consider this an education. In order to make a good drink, we have to follow certain standards. A perfect shot of espresso, depending on the machine it's made with, must fall within certain seconds. If it doesn't the shot of espresso can either be too weak or too bitter. So, not every shot of espresso may be used. Milk has to be steamed to a certain temperture to maintain quality and safeness. With the introduction of the automated espresso machine, it has made the job slightly easier for the barista making the drinks. Usually a store with an older machine will take a little longer making the drinks, because it has a couple more steps involved.
Now, imagine if you will (that you're at the registar): you've got a line out the door with people. You're dealing with people who are in a rush, who don't know what they want, who knows exactly what they want, too busy talking on their phone to give you their orders, who are super nice, who are super nasty, and who are just plain stupid. You're trying to ring an order in for a person who can't make up their mind about what drink he/she wants or what he/she wants to eat. Then when they finally get it together, they want to give you most of the money in change. Finally, when you get to the next person in line, that person is annoyed that it took so long and because they can't yell at the person in front of them, they take it out on you.
Now imagaine if you will (that you're cleaning up the store): The condiment bar is littered with trash, even though there's a hole to put garbage in! You're walking around to the seating area and there's empty plates, cups and garbage on every other table. You look at the floor and there's crumbs and spills everywhere. OH, and it's always a super treat when the bathroom gets clogged up and no one tells you until the damn toilet overflows. Then you're in there mopping up shitty water. Let me tell you HOW absolutely GREAT it is to do that!!!

If everyone who's claiming that they don't tip b/c Starbucks is "fast-food", then why aren't people cleaning up after themselves????!!!! You're absolutely right, Starbucks isn't "fine dining" and we should've have to clean up after messy, dirty people that comes in to ensure that you come into a clean environment.

So, to all the comments being made about working at Starbucks being just about pouring coffee, they're all very ignorant.

I've worked for Starbucks for 2 1/2 years. We're far from being a perfect company. But I love my job. I love being able to make a person's day. I love knowing all of my regular's names and drinks. I love having their drinks ready for them before they walk in the door. I love the reaction I get when I remember a new customer's drink for the second or third visit in the store. I love getting my customers to try new drinks or pastries. I love educating my customers about the coffee process. But what I do in a day can make some jobs seem like cake walk. I've seen and trained a lot of people who thought working for Starbucks was just about pouring coffee. Not many of them made it for long.

If you're not getting the "service" maybe it's because you're not going to a store where employees love their jobs. And maybe the employees don't love their job because of customers who are constantly going there and complaining about everything all the time. It's really hard to love a job when all you have are complaints and no appreciation even when you do a good job. If the price is too high and the coffee not good, then don't go! But don't buy the coffee, drink it, and complain about how much it cost. Just tip if you get good service. If you don't want to tip, don't. Just don't complain about it.

Posted by: A "Barista" | August 30, 2004 07:55 PM

It's funny reading these last 2 comments from the employees who swear it's not them but the customers.

Somehow it's the customer's fault. We must be rude, impatient or talking on the phone.

The way I see it is, I come in order my drink, pay, and wait. That's the extent of my involvement. All you have to do it fulfill the order written for you barney style on receipts.

Sorry, it's not rocket science or boot camp for that matter. Anyone that can make it a day at McDonald's could definitely work at Starbucks. Let's see, rude customer service-check, stack pastrys-check, take money-check, make the customer wait forever-check, look at the customer like it's her fault-check. Hell, let me put in my application today.

I probably won't get hired. I'm overqualified. I once worked the 'drive-thru' at Burger King. I'm probably mgmt material.

Sorry but if I'm paying $4 a coffee and the service is consistently shitty I have a right to complain. That's why they have those customer comment cards with the free drinks readily available.

To "a barista" it's called the 1st Amendment, look it up dumbass.

Posted by: First Amendment Read it! | August 31, 2004 02:18 AM

I'll start tipping when Starbucks stops trying to charge $8 for a Ham SaMich

Posted by: erin | August 31, 2004 02:20 AM

I'm agreeing with "First Amendment". "A Barista" writes that her job involves work and we're all evil for not bowing down to her. Boo friggin boo.

This thread has been insane. While I can't believe the levels of outrage directed towards flipping a few coins into a stupid jar, the Starbucks people have not carried their flag well. On the charges of ovebearing barista ego-trips, I pronounce you Venti.

Are other coffee chains as hated as Starbucks? They're not as popular, so does contempt equal success?

Posted by: a bill | August 31, 2004 05:09 AM

You do realize that Starbucks is in negotiations to merge with Target, a la Fed Ex/Kinko's. Now you'll have to see those tip jars at the checkout register. And just because you were stupid enough to buy that silly Todd Oldham lamp at Target, you'll have to decide "to tip or not to tip, that is the question" when the clerk rings up your item and bags it. Because that's the work they do and you better be damn appreciative of it!

Posted by: | August 31, 2004 04:38 PM

To the poster above, that's not a merger it's a licensing arrangement you putz.

That's fine, maybe Target will train their employees better customer service than the *$'s employee-posters posting here with chips on their shoulder. The *'s in Barnes & Noble are generally friendly compared to actual Starbucks operated stores.

Next up, Starbucks will be in Wal-Marts replacing McDonald's where it truly belongs.

lol Starbucks world domination Phase I


Posted by: Tweek's Coffee Shop | August 31, 2004 07:00 PM

To summarize:

"Starbucks employees are all working their way through college and are about to cure cancer any minute now, and should probably be tipped, because they deserve it."

Going to college makes one worthy of tips? Really? Damnit. I should have kept a tip jar next to my biology books while I studied.

"If you don't like your crappy job, go to college and get a better one."

To everyone who says 'go to college' as if it is free, as if it is easy, as if everyone's life circumstance allows them to pursue a higher education, oh, cram it. College is expensive and time consuming, and not everybody can afford to go, no matter how much they would like to.

Being uneducated does not mean one does not deserve recognition for a job well done. Being educated doesn't mean you pour a better cup of coffee, either.

For the record:
I work service now.
I don't tip at fast food restaurants.

Posted by: afurrica | August 31, 2004 07:24 PM

If you don't want to go to college, just say so. Don't make excuses.

Boo hoo hoo, college is hard. I don't want to hear any of that nonsense the same way I don't want to hear "A Barista" whine about how hard work is.

It's called financial aid. Look into it.

Posted by: tweek | August 31, 2004 11:21 PM

I'm in the service industry as well.

I'm a dancer. I shake my ass at the deja vu fo' dat dolla dolla bill$ yall.

(For the record: I just hate it when they call us strippers. We are entertainers/dancers/pole-istas)

I work very hard to make my customers happy. And I try to remember everyone's name and their favorite position.

I feel that tip jars are very tacky. Better to put it in my G-String. It's more refined that way.

The hours are great and I get benefits (friends with benefits, that is) I'm doing this job so I can put myself through college.

Ok, I'm lying my ass off. I ain't going to college. But it sounds better than saying I'm going to work in this dead-end job for the rest of my life.


Posted by: CREAM Cash Rules Everything Around Me | August 31, 2004 11:28 PM

I would love to see a pole-ista froth milk...that would be hot (no pun). Tip if you want tip if not, it is all gravy in the end. So I lack a few more bucks for beer, oh well. To quote something we say in my store often... it is only coffee. It is a job for some, a hatred for others, but in the end it is only brown liquid made by steeping the crushed beans of a plant. It is not this serious. Now cancer that's serious.

Posted by: baristaj | September 1, 2004 02:41 AM

no tip , the tip system is for people like me that are paid under the legal hourly wage ( i.e. waitresses, and waiters) if the servers behind the counter feel they are not paid enough, then let them go to their bosses for a raise, or even organize , if the wage is not a living wage I will pay a little more as long as I am getting good service , where does it end , do I also have to tip the radio shack guy , what about the kid at the gap? Each of those is also paid an hourly wage, however I do tip waitresses and waiters well because I have been there and I remember getting paid 2.25 an hour when my counter parts in the retail world were getting 8 to 10 an hour, and some nights I received good tips, other times very little. Now I get tips when I do my job well but they are called bonuses

Posted by: mickey | September 1, 2004 11:53 AM

As a customer who has never worked at Starbucks, nor plans to in the near future, but I agree with the baristas. Maybe it's just because I go to a wonderful Starbucks will wonderful employees, but the baristas do so much more than pour my coffee.

I consider myself more than a regular, only because I hate staying in my house so I end up at Starbucks for hours on end every day of the week. The reason I can stand being there for so long is because I love being around the baristas. They all took the liberty of finding out my name, what school I go to, what drinks I like, and whether or not I like my iced tea sweetened. When drinks are accidently made, they go straight to me for free, and I've gotten fees waived a number of times on iced teas. I've never gotten kicked out, although I sometimes eat fast food at their tables, and spend 6 hours in there playing games with only an iced tea as an order.

However, Starbucks employees should not be tipped because they deserve it or because they need the money, because they don't. Starbucks has excellent benefits, wages, and even helps pay tuition. If you want to tip, go ahead, but do it because they made you happy, not because you have to.

Posted by: gen | September 2, 2004 12:40 AM

A (non-Starbucks) coffee shop finds tips are
being used to fight a union in Vancouver (Starbucks
first foreign location after Seattle)
Linkname: Urban baristas say new tip policy un-Fare
URL: http://vancourier.com/issues04/085204/news/085204nn9.html

Cappuccino bar workers from the Urban Fare grocery store in Yaletown
are feeling a little testy these days but it isn't because they've had
too much caffeine. Their problem stems from the loss of tips.

[ CAD 1 = USD 0.75 ]
... Andy Neufeld, communications manager for the United Food and
Commercial Workers Local 1518 that represents the unionized workers at
Urban Fare, said the store recently decided tips given to employees of
the cappuccino bar will no longer be divided among the workers, as has
been done for more than four years, but instead will be donated to a
charity of the company's choice.

"Virtually all the cappuccino bar employees make $8.25 per hour, which
tends to be less than other employees in the store except those who
have just started," said Neufeld. "These employees work hard for the
tips they receive to supplement their wages."


Posted by: Landolt-Borstein | September 2, 2004 12:14 PM

I've worked in fast food for over 5 years, at Starbucks for one, yes, FF is harder, however, not by a great deal.
Tip if you want to, don't if you don't. It is that simple.
The only time I've heard a co-worker grumble about the lack of a tip is when the customer has been less than pleasant to serve. And then it was out of earshot of any one on the customer side of the counter. At my store the quality of your service is no better or less as a result of the tip. Our customers express their appreciation of the caliber of our work by sincere thanks, backstage passes, home-baked cookies, and yes cash. Please note though that we have bought the coffee for folks that forgot their wallets, run people to get gas when they've run out, accepted packages for people to pick-up, and in general done anything we could to make life easier and more enjoyable for the folks who come through our doors. ( and no this isn't just for regulars) If we give you more than you expected and cash is how you acknowledge that, THANK YOU. If not, that's fine too. We aren't in it just for the money.

Posted by: | September 2, 2004 09:27 PM

It the real tip system, ( ie the real world) and also in the bonus system you have to pay taxes, however tip jars are stealing from the rest of us, no one pays taxes on that money , no one reports it. So that money does not support our local comunities. It could be considerd tax fraud. If I don’t report a bonus I could go to jail, hell if I fail to report earnings of any type I could go to jail. I think that a good alternative is to do what that one shop is doing. Give the money to charity, what way they could still feel good about the tips, that people have let them know that they are doing a good job, and that themoney is going to a good cause, like AIDS research.

Posted by: mickey | September 3, 2004 10:35 AM

First off... I said many posts back that I always claim tips on my taxes... yet not one person has acknowledged that... instead they keep saying all they want is to see that we do... well... we do!

Second... a lot of Starbucks stores do donate portions of their tips to charities... at my old one in Victoria, for 2 months we would save them and donate them to the Aids Walk... at my new one in Ottawa, all of our pennies go to the local police to buy teddy bears to keep in the squad cars for times when kids might have been hurt or in traumatic situations... we don't necessarily advertise this... but its something that makes us feel good...

I'm not saying you have to tip, or even asking you to... if you do, great... if you don't... great... just please stop bashing us for accepting them...

Posted by: LethargicLass | September 4, 2004 08:34 AM

I'm a lowly paid college professor. Can I put a tip jar on the corner of my desk?

Posted by: indygal_24 | September 6, 2004 02:12 PM

The tip jar gives the baristas a small benefit in the short term, but is really to their disadvantage in the long term. The Starbucks corporation I'm sure has a team of accountants that figure out exactly the smallest wage in a given area they can pay to be able to hire qualified staff. If they can factor in, say, $1 an hour in tips, they can afford to pay $1 an hour less in wages. So in the long run the baristas take home the same amount of money, only they now depend on the goodwill of strangers rather than an agreed upon wage.

Posted by: Jon Tyken | September 7, 2004 01:06 PM

A few things... One, I've worked at two different *$'s in two cities (Denver, and San Jose) and apparantly once you leave the east coast people are much nicer, because my customers have always been awesome. That's one of the reasons I still work for the 'bux (3 years now) The people I get to chat with everyday. Our best estimate is at least someone in our store will know 30% of our customers name or at least drink.

Two, fuck the tips. We don't count on them for anything. We've looked at them as an added bonus, nothing that we've ever counted on. I'm going to smile at you, talk with you, joke with you regardless if you are going to tip, as will any good barista. I don't give a shit what you throw in, but if you do I'm appreciative. I just want to have fun on my job, and maybe make you laugh a bit too. Because that makes my day go by better. Maybe the eastcoast baristas are too uptight? And my store is right downtown, where we've had our rushes like everyone else. Yet, we make eye contact, and talk to everyone. See how many people at the gap or mcdonalds make eye contact with you.

Three, if you want to hate someone, hate the corporation, not the employees. I don't go to mcdonalds or burger king, but I don't berate anyone who works there, even though I think those companies are at the root of our obesity epidemic. By the same token, don't get pissy at those of us who do work at *$'s. We are trying to earn money to better ourselves. And when we do earn money, it's a bitch for us to get a specific day off to go to a concert or something. We're told "it's a request for a day off, not a guarentee". We work nights, we work weekends, it's not glamourous, but we deal with it while we try to better ourselves by going to school.

Four, a coffee is either $1.25, $1.35, $1.55, or $1.65 in all the Starbucks I've worked in. Piss off to all you who won't pay $4 for a coffee, because you never have. If you want a frappucino, or a latte, that's different, that takes time to make, to prepare, to accurately make to your standards. Try steaming just enough milk to make perfect foam and not go over the pitcher, splashing hot milk all over yourself. It's an acquired skill to make a good latte, so pony up or do it yourself. A cup of coffee? Anyone can do that. That's why we don't charge even $2 for it.

Five, I don't know of any barista that makes a customer use *$ terminology for the drinks. Most barista's feeling is "I know what you want, you know what you want, why should I care how you say it as long as we both know what I am getting you?" And in case anyone cares, the story behind the venti goes as follows... Originally there was only the short, tall, and grande (hence the grande being large) then when things regularly got supersized, and the bux added another size they didn't want to switch the names around, so they came up with venti (20 oz) Call it small, medium, large, I don't care, and neither should any barista.

Finally, you being a customer DOES NOT, I repeat DOES NOT give you the right to treat us as inferior human beings. I don't walk into your job and ack like a pompous ass, and neither should you. If you don't like *$'s policies, don't come in. Fortunately these people are few and far between.

Oh, to all the barista's out there... please stop making caramel macchiato's upside down unless requested, I hate when you don't float the shots on top, and I have to taste all the coffee with each sip I take. It ruins my day, because I'm too nice to ask you to remake the drink properly.

Posted by: Nicholaus | September 9, 2004 10:15 AM

Wow. I can't believe the rage expressed by these customers. What is your deal? If you feel like you're being ripped off or a tip isn't called for, then keep walking. Nobody's *making* you visit Starbucks or tip the baristas. What is wrong with your lives that you have so much rage about stupid a tip cup? Previous posters have described baristas as lazy, greedy, shallow, inconsiderate--all because baristas admit that they respond favorably to the clink of a couple quarters. I submit that the problem isn't the tip cup, it's with the non-tipper's belief that he or she is a jerk for not tipping. Dude, that's *you* talking, not me. Tip or don't, but don't insult the baristas to make yourself feel better about it.

Posted by: harrietwrath | September 11, 2004 11:31 AM

1) Becca, why would you go to restaurants wanting to something that you know is not on the menu. I assure you that you will not get it!

2) I have workef for McDonalds for 3 years now and the biggest problem that we have is asshole customers probably much like yourself. We try to give you good service you complain that we are to slow. We try to give you fast service, you complain that the food sucks. You try making 100 fresh and hot hamburgers in about 15 minutes and see how far you get. HERE'S AN IDEA, IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT GO HOME AND MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN HAMBURGER!!!!

3) Furthermore if you go to a place where it is normal to tip just give the damn people a dollar. You paying $10 for a cup of coffee that you can make in your own house for $.05. Your throwing your money out the window anyway so why not help someone else out in the process!

Posted by: chris | September 13, 2004 09:22 AM

Look nick, nicholaus, whatever the hell your name is, you little fuck. One, I am on the east coast, two, the whole thing about people not making eye contact with you at McDonalds is bullshit. I know almost 50% of the people that walk throught the door at my McDonalds and I can tell you what each one of them wants when they walk throught the door. When I see someone pull in the parking lot that I know likes a fresh cup of decaf and a mcchicken, it is on the counter the second that they walk up. All they have to do is pay. I work in a store that make a little under $10,000 dollars a day and I can do that so don't give me this cock and bull story about how McDonalds doesn't this or McDonalds workers can't do that. My Employees bust there ass so that my customers can get the food that they want served hot, fresh, fast, and accurate because that is what we do.

Posted by: chris | September 13, 2004 09:35 AM

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