Should You Tip at Starbucks?

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Starbucks is the largest coffee chain worldwide, with over 35,700 stores in 84 countries. Since it’s a large company that looks after its employees, it’s not uncommon for customers to wonder whether they should tip their barista when ordering their favorite coffee drink.

While tipping is a common practice in many service industries, it’s not always clear whether it’s expected at Starbucks. So should you tip at Starbucks or not?

Should You Tip at Starbucks?

Starbucks employees make at least $15 an hour, which is more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25. This means tipping is optional, as employees are already paid a fair wage.

However, some customers may choose to tip as a way to show their appreciation for great service or to support their local baristas. There are differing opinions on whether or not to tip at Starbucks.

Some argue that tipping is unnecessary since baristas are already paid a fair wage. Others believe that tipping is a way to show appreciation for good service.

Ultimately, the decision to tip is up to the individual customer and their personal beliefs about tipping in the service industry.

Why Tip at Starbucks

Starbucks reusable cups

Image credit: Starbucks

Tipping is a way of showing appreciation for good service.

When you tip, you acknowledge the hard work and effort that goes into providing excellent customer service. In the case of Starbucks, tipping is important because it can make a significant difference in the lives of the employees who work there.

How Tipping Impacts Starbucks Employees

Starbucks employees work hard to provide customers with a great experience. The pay at Starbucks is higher than the federal minimum, and their coffee shop staff is not expected to earn tips to make a living.

That being said, tips can make a big difference in the lives of Starbucks employees. Supplementing their salary with tips makes it possible for them to meet their financial obligations.

According to a report by Market Realist, some Starbucks workers feel awkward or even press “no tip” for the customer to avoid the situation. This is because tipping can be a sensitive issue for some people.

However, if you feel that the service you received was exceptional, it’s important to tip the employee who provided it.

Pros of Tipping at Starbucks

Starbucks coffee shop

There are several benefits to tipping at Starbucks. First and foremost, it can help to motivate employees to provide excellent customer service. You might even enter the store 10 minutes before or after the official store times. How convenient is that?

When employees know that their hard work is appreciated, they are more likely to go above and beyond to ensure that customers are satisfied.

Additionally, tipping can help to create a more positive work environment. Employees who feel valued are more likely to enjoy their work and feel motivated to do their best. This can lead to a better overall experience for customers.

When to Tip at Starbucks

Should you tip at Starbucks, and if so, when to tip?

There is no hard and fast rule about when to tip at Starbucks. Some people tip every time they visit, while others only tip when they receive exceptional service.

Examples of when a tip might be appropriate:

  • When the barista was professional and polite.
  • If the barista made a really good coffee.
  • If the barista made complex orders, for example, your favorite TikTok drink.
  • If they remember your favorite drink and your preferences. They might even know you by name. It’s hard not to tip a barista if she/he greets you by name: “Hi, Ben, how are you today? Would you like your usual double Macchiato, or would you like to try something else today?”
  • If the server went above and beyond their regular service and duty.
  • At Christmas, thanksgiving, or any other holidays.
  • The barista had a great personality, was funny, and made your day better. Hint, hint: besides the convenience and great coffee, this is why we love Starbucks.
  • If you want to impress your companion. For example, you might not want to come across as stingy while on an important business meeting or coffee date.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide when and how much to tip. If you decide to tip, there are several ways to do it.

You can leave cash in the tip jar, add a tip to your credit or debit card transaction, or use the Starbucks app to tip digitally.

Whatever method you choose, tip the appropriate amount based on the level of service you received.

It’s important to note that tipping should never be mandatory. If you don’t feel that the service you received was exceptional, you are under no obligation to tip.

However, if you do receive excellent service, tipping can be a great way to show your appreciation.

Why Some People Don’t Tip at Starbucks

There are several reasons why some people choose not to tip at Starbucks. One of the main reasons is that Starbucks employees are already paid a fair wage.

According to Glassdoor data, the average hourly wage for a Starbucks barista was $11.39 per hour (this was prior to the minimum $15 hourly floor raise in 2022). This is significantly higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Since Starbucks employees are already paid a fair wage, some people argue that there is no need to tip them. Another reason some people don’t tip at Starbucks is that they feel they already pay a premium for their coffee.

Starbucks is known for being more expensive than other coffee shops, and some people feel like they are already paying enough for their coffee without having to tip on top of that.

Cons of Tipping at Starbucks

There are several arguments against tipping at Starbucks. One view is that tipping can be discriminatory. Some people may tip based on factors such as race, gender, or appearance rather than the quality of service.

This can create an unfair and unequal work environment for Starbucks employees. Another argument against tipping at Starbucks is that it can be awkward and uncomfortable.

Some people may feel pressured to tip, even if they don’t want to, because of the tipping prompts on the payment terminal. This can create an uncomfortable situation for both the customer and the employee.

Finally, some people argue that tipping at Starbucks is not necessary because Starbucks already provides its employees with benefits such as health insurance and stock options.

Since Starbucks employees are already receiving these benefits, some people argue that there is no need to tip them.

As you can imagine, there are several reasons why some people choose not to tip at Starbucks.

These reasons include the fact that Starbucks employees are already paid a fair wage, the premium price of Starbucks coffee, the potential for discrimination, the awkwardness of tipping, and the benefits Starbucks already provides to its employees.

How Much to Tip at Starbucks

When it comes to tipping at Starbucks, there are no written rules or guidelines. It’s ultimately up to the customer to decide whether or not to leave a tip and how much to leave.

However, there are some general guidelines that can help you make a decision. First, it’s important to note that Starbucks employees are not paid a high wage.

According to Starbucks, the average hourly pay at Starbucks will reach nearly $17/hour nationally by August 2022. This means that tips can make a significant difference in their income. If you decide to leave a tip, a good rule of thumb is to tip $1 per drink.

This is a common practice at many coffee shops and bars. If you order a more complicated drink, such as a latte or cappuccino, you may want to consider leaving a slightly larger tip.

Another option is to tip a percentage of your total bill. Some people like to tip 10% to 20% of their bill, similar to how they would tip at a restaurant.

However, this is not as common at coffee shops, and many customers prefer to stick with a flat dollar amount. It’s also worth noting that Starbucks now allows customers to leave tips through the Starbucks app.

When you pay with the app, you will be prompted to leave a tip of $.50, $1, or $2. This can be a convenient option if you don’t have cash on hand.

Overall, the amount you choose to tip at Starbucks will depend on your personal preferences and the level of service you receive. It’s always appreciated but not required. If you’re unsure, a small tip of $1 per drink is a good place to start.

Tipping Etiquette

When it comes to tipping at Starbucks, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you’re following proper etiquette.

Here are some tips on how to tip:

  1. Always tip in cash if possible. This allows the barista to receive the tip immediately and avoid any delays or issues with the app.
  2. If you’re leaving a tip through the app, try to do so before leaving the store. You don’t want to hold up the line or forget to leave a tip altogether.
  3. Don’t feel obligated to leave a tip if you receive poor service. Tipping is a way to show appreciation for great service, not a requirement.
  4. If you’re a regular customer, consider occasionally leaving a larger tip to show appreciation for the baristas who serve you.
  5. By following these tips, you can ensure that you’re tipping appropriately and showing your appreciation for the hardworking baristas at Starbucks.

Can You Tip Using the Starbucks App?

Yes, you can easily tip using the app. By clicking on “History” on the app’s homepage, you can click on the arrow for your transaction and leave a tip up to 2 hours after your purchase.

You can also enable notifications in the app, and an item you can click on to leave a tip should also appear. With the tip feature, you can leave a tip from $0.50 to $2.00.

These tips go into a “tip pool” and the entire tip pool is divided evenly among the employees at the end of the service.

Do Starbucks Baristas Know If You Tip?

Unless they see you putting money in the tip bucket, Starbucks baristas usually have no idea if you leave a tip. Tipping baristas is optional, but it can help you avoid long lines.

A barista may move your order up the queue if you’re a regular customer and a hefty tipper.

When customers at a Starbucks are known to leave generous tips, the store is more likely to have a low turnover rate and attract and retain quality staff.

As a result, workers at that location will be more experienced, allowing them to crank out orders more quickly and accurately than at other locations.

Why is Starbucks Asking For a Tip?

Starbucks announced the initiative during Spring 2022 as a way for customers to “recognize their favorite baristas.” The coffee chain began rolling it out in select stores in September 2022.

Customers paying with credit or debit cards can give the Starbucks barista a $1, $2, $5, custom tip, or no tip. Starbucks says the new tipping system is to reward baristas.

Many Starbucks fans welcomed this new tipping system. At the same time, some customers argued that instead of asking customers to tip, Starbucks should be paying higher wages.

A Starbucks customer wrote this on Twitter: “I went through the Starbucks Drive through and got one drink, and they now start asking if you want to tip as soon as you pull your card out to pay while looking at you. It’s so awkward… just pay these people a better wage.”

Is It Rude to Not Tip at Starbucks?

Workers at Starbucks make at least the federal minimum wage, so it’s not impolite not to tip. They are not compensated more each hour through tips.

While gratuities aren’t expected, they are greatly appreciated, especially for orders that are particularly complicated or large.

Every dollar more in their salaries is greatly appreciated by baristas. A monetary donation of any amount is much appreciated.

Alternatives to Tipping at Starbucks

Tipping at Starbucks is a common practice, but there are other ways to show your appreciation for the hardworking baristas who make your coffee.

Here are a few alternatives to tipping and to show your appreciation:

  • Write a positive review on social media or on the Starbucks website. This not only gives the baristas recognition for their hard work but also helps to attract new customers to the store.
  • Bring in a small gift for the baristas. This could be anything from a box of sweets to a thank-you card. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it shows that you care and appreciate their hard work.
  • Speak to the manager and let them know about the great service you received. This not only gives the baristas recognition but also helps to improve their chances of getting a promotion or a raise.
  • Be kind and respectful to them. A friendly smile and a thank-you can go a long way in making their day a little bit better.
  • Help to keep the store clean and organized. This allows the baristas to do their job more efficiently and shows that you care about the store and its people.
  • Spread the word about Starbucks and encourage others to visit the store. This not only helps to support the business but also helps to create a positive community around the store.

Overall, there are many alternatives to tipping at Starbucks. Whether it’s writing a positive review, bringing in a small gift, or simply being kind and respectful, there are many ways to show your appreciation for the hardworking baristas who make your coffee.

Bottom Line: To Tip or Not to Tip at Starbucks?

So do you have to tip at Starbucks? Tipping at Starbucks is a personal choice. While it is not required, it is always appreciated by the baristas who work hard to provide excellent service. If you are satisfied with your experience and have the means to tip, it is a great way to show your appreciation.

If you are unsure whether to tip or not to tip, you might want to consider the level of service you received. Did the Starbucks barista go above and beyond to make your drink just the way you like it? Did they provide friendly and efficient service? If so, a tip may be appropriate. But ultimately, the decision to tip at Starbucks is up to you.


Featured image credit: Anton Novoderezhkin, TASS