Baristas Answer Once and for All: Should We Tip at Coffee Shops?
Gone are the days when it’s cool to toss a couple pennies into the “Thanks a Latte!” jar next to the cash register. At your local joint, coffee is basically an art form. More and more cafés use Square, which prompts customers to select a tip amount (15 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent). There’s a “no tip” option at the bottom, but pressing that would make us bad humans, right? We chatted with four different baristas from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston to get the DL.
When tipping isn’t strictly necessary: If your drink takes two seconds to pour, like an iced coffee, a tip isn’t required. (Unicorn lattes, on the other hand? Be ready to add at least $1 to your total.) And if the service is just bad, by all means, forgo the tip.
But you should probably tip when: You’re at the spot that grinds the beans in front of you. Or you order a cappuccino, aka your drink takes some time and talent to make. And especially if you’re high-maintenance (you know who you are, Mrs. Bone-Dry-All-Foam-Half-Caff). Definitely tip if you’re on a coffee run for the whole office. And of course, if you have a great interaction with the staff and feel inspired to tip, that’s the best. Go for it.
Bottom line: Sure, it would be nice if you tipped on your $7 cortado. But at the end of the day, a tip is really just a gesture of appreciation. Baristas even admitted to selecting the “custom tip amount” and entering 30 cents sometimes. They get it—coffee’s expensive and every extra cent you save on your daily habit adds up.