Oh my God. Yesterday we asked what standards of tipping you live by, and you all have so, so, so much to say. There was a lot of bragging and plenty more whining in the nearly 700 comments left on yesterday's post.
But also some consensus: 20 percent of the total bill appears to be the magical, socially agreed upon amount people pay for dine-in service. But for other food services? People have all kinds of ideas about what is acceptable and what's not. Let's run through them.
At a coffee shop, I will tip whatever change is left for the coffee. If getting a more complicated drink, I will tip more. But unless the barista has personally plucked beans out of jungle-cat shit, they are not getting a dollar. And if they have, I will give them more than a fiver as long as they've washed their hands.
I love my 'local coffee house.' My cappuccino is $3.50 and I always leave the $1.50 change in the tip jar. Then again, if I get a pastry I still tip the same $1.50. Is that bad?
I don't regularly tip at coffee shops, though if I go to a place enough times I'll toss a dollar in the tip jar (I've worked at coffee shops, and I knew then not to "depend" on tips... I made above minimum wage).
At a coffee shop where I am expected to wait in line, place my order at a cash register and then pick it up at the other end of the counter? Nothing. Do folks tip at McDonald's? How is this different?
I do not tip at Starbucks or the like for coffee. The people who make coffee are not relying on tips like waitstaff, who make less than minimum wage per hour because they are expected to make up for it in tips. If I have an actual person waiting on my table, I tip 20%.
I'm not criticizing you for not tipping—that's your decision—but trust me, they're "relying" on it every bit as much as waitstaff. When you're making that little overall, even and extra $50 (from an entire week), can make an enormous difference in someone's life. When I worked there it could be the difference between paying rent AND eating, or just paying rent.
Tip or don't, but don't justify it by saying they're not "relying on it."
Seven-year Starbucks veteran here: You don't tip for a regular coffee. You tip for something that's not on the menu, or anything that is on the menu that has more than three modifiers. An example would be a 4-shot half-caf 1% grande hazelnut mocha half sweet on both, not that I know ANYONE who would order that, oh perish the thought.
And seriously, people at Starbucks are just happy you tip them. They're happier if you do it in front of a large audience, of course. They don't particularly care how much, except that change is better than bills, because it's harder for people to steal. And only a cheapass would tip less than a quarter.
I was formerly a barista in NYC and this is my take on tipping for counter service.
If you're in every day (5-7 days a week) and all you order is a standard cup of coffee, with minimal fuss, throw me a buck or two on Friday. If you order espresso drinks, 50 cents—one dollar per drink is standard. Once in awhile not tipping is ok, if it's busy I probably wouldn't have noticed, and since baristas in NYC typically get paid more than server's wages I wouldn't hold it against you if you didn't tip every now and then.
If you have a "special drink" or are fussy about what's in your coffee, then you should always tip at least a dollar. Never, ever make a big deal about tipping a barista because at the end of day maximally people tip one dollar. Being a barista for few people is a long-term career plan, and your barista is probably working on a degree or other career and is serving you coffee to make ends meet or because it's a bump in the road on their way to somewhere else, so don't insult them by being "ooo thanks for steaming my milk properly and making me a leaf in my latte! here's TWO dollars!" Be casual, be compassionate.
I'm a barista! Don't assume we make a living wage! Even though most people do not tip, tips amount to roughly 40% of my yearly income. It is kind of a trap, really. Most people assume tipping is not necessary at a specialty coffee shop—those same people know there is a cultural expectation to tip waiters and bartenders.
Also, if anybody thinks there is no awkward human-to-human relationship developed between you and your barista... think again. People treat their coffee orders like a sacrament. Perform coffee rites on hundreds of tired New Yorkers everyday and then watch people not tip you—not my idea of a good time.
Another point to consider is the quality of the coffee/ the expertise of the barista. If the espresso tastes good, it is because a barista personally calibrated the machine that morning. It takes a lot of practice, finesse, expertise, and often a willingness to taste tons of espresso at 5 AM. A lot of care and preparation goes into making lattes, cappuccinos, etc. More than goes into mixing a drink.
Picking up a to go order: I don't really know for this one. Sometimes I tip nothing, sometimes I tip a couple of dollars.
So here's my dilemma: During the week I typically order takeout for lunch and pick it up myself. But I never know if I should tip or not. Of course, if I have food delivered to the office tipping is a no-brainer. But, in truth, I don't feel I should tip when I'm doing the work of picking up my food. (This is the part where I mention that I previously worked in two restaurants during college.)
My guilt, however, usually wins out, and I end up tipping a dollar or two. But should I?
You should tip a couple of bucks for pickup. It goes to the hostess, who had to deal with the order.
There is often a lot of work/effort going into putting a takeout package together. I've always tipped when picking up my orders, and it's always very much appreciated because those tips are shared among all the people that put the packages together, including the person taking the orders. Those folks don't always share much in the tips.
no, you shouldn't.
I go pick it up myself BECAUSE I don't want to tip a delivery person. If I had to tip at the takeout too I'd never eat.
I don't think we should tip for takeout UNLESS you know a waiter or other less than minimum wage slave is stuck preparing takeout food.
Otherwise, it just doesn't make any sense to tip for takeout. Sure, someone in the back is preparing your takeout, but when you order delivery, someone in the back is doing the same job and yet they usually don't get a cut of the tip you gave to the delivery driver, and when you order sit down service, someone in the back is preparing your meal and yet waiters rarely tip kitchen staff.
That being said, if I'm a regular, I tip for takeout on occasion so I don't get shitty food.
Wait, why would you give a bartender a dollar for cracking open a Bud Light and not a barista for pouring out an iced coffee (or steaming milk if you're ordering a cappuccino)?
A Tiered System
Some have more fun with the 20 percent rule and utilize a sliding scale based on quality of service.
I generally tip 20-30% in a restaurant, I have tipped as low as 15% for poor service.
Restaurants I got for about 18% and round up to the nearest 5 or 10($23 becomes $24, $27 becomes $30).
15%-20% for servers (depending on their service - if really bad, it goes down to 10% - very rare)
If it's a profession where a person makes less than minimum wage (server, etc.), I tip 15% for "adequate service", 17-18% for "good", 20% for "great". The only exception to the "below minimum wage" rule is haircuts, bartenders and pizza/food delivery.
Also Worth Considering
When it comes to a lot of PoC, there's an additional conundrum: if you're PoC and feel like you've been given less than standard service because apparently a lot of servers seem to think that only white people tip well, do you tip less for the sub-standard service and keep the stereotype-cycle going? Or do you still put a good tip hoping to disprove the stereotype?
Part of the difficulty is that it's hard to evaluate that someone's treating you badly as a PoC on a single dining experience. More likely you notice it by aggregating your dining experiences and noticing overall trends. But then there are the times when the wait staff only seem to interact with the white people on your table...
I am currently delivering pizza, during a snowstorm and on back roads in New Hampshire. I can say that almost all of you ignore percentages and tip 3-5 dollars. If you are feeling generous you will make that between 7-9 for the snow. The part of the discussion I have no interest in is the fact that I am taking a big risk for relatively little money on your icy and unshoveled drive and walk ways. Some people will say that they tip extra well, and some are not lying I did get a 20 tonight, but the rest of you are weird liars. At least the monsters who say if I don't want to do the job I should get a new one are consistent. They're crappy all the time, but everyone hates hypocrites more.
Some of these people might be trolling. Maybe they're just awful.
I have a very simple and elegant formula for tipping that is totally foolproof. Just don't do it. Instead of tipping, encourage owners and management to pay employees decent living wages. Otherwise, the retail price of any item or service is all you should pay.
How is remembering a drink order "working their ass off"? I don't tip counter people, and am usually comfortable knowing that they aren't (unlike waiters) paid less under the presumption that they earn bank from tips.
You tip for table service. Don't tip at coffee houses if you get your drink at the counter. Tip jars are a plague upon us all.
I'm really getting tired of these "tip" related posts. Almost never does the article talk about what happens when someone doesn't tip a waitress making less than minimum wage. Our society acts like the waitress won't make minimum wage if no one tips, which isn't the case. If the total of tips plus their base wage falls short of minimum, the person doesn't get screwed, the establishment has to make up the difference. So literally, they will never make under the minimum. Most/all bartenders/waitress I know make more money than $10-15/hour out the door.
I have served, bartended, washed dishes, and cooked for jobs. None of them were hard. Demanding at times, yes, but most jobs are. Let's not make martyrs out of these people or chastise those that don't tip, it's a shitty system.
Restaurants: 20% rounded up to make my total expenditure a multiple of $5.00
Hair: My wife does my hair. I give her more than just the tip.
Coffee: I make my own coffee because I'm not an asshole.*
Bars: First drink—$5.00. Subsequent drinks—$1.00
Movers: Recruit friends. Pay in beer.
Street performers: Awkward laughter.
*Note: I'm an asshole
And Finally, A Sensible, Human Response
Sometimes I tip a dollar, sometimes I tip less, sometimes I tip more, and sometimes I don't tip at all, if they know me and know I'll be back again and tip then but don't have change at the moment. The local coffee house by me also has amazing bagels, and I once bought $65 worth for a weekend getaway my friends were planning, and left a twenty dollar tip.
But I was also raised to tip well, and get uncomfortable if other people don't do so. I was at a dinner party at a restaurant once where everyone split the check. I put in ten dollars over what I owed, after having the cheapest dish. We were forty dollars short including tip and no one would admit that they had short changed what was owed. I put the extra forty in. And everyone was going on and on about being poor, young New Yorkers which annoyed the shit out of me. You don't get to eat out if you can't tip - you have to expect that the tip is part of the cost of your meal, and if you don't, you're just a cheap asshole who doesn't understand both etiquette, human decency, and basic business.