There’s a rather frenzied debate going on across the water in the United State right now with regard to good practice etiquette when it comes to ordering coffee. Like it or not, America’s influence over the way we live our lives in the UK is both growing and accelerating with each and every year – it wasn’t that long ago we didn’t even have a Starbucks on this side of the Atlantic. As such, we reckon it’s only a matter of time until this particular debate raises its head over here, so we thought we might as well go ahead and kick things off a little ahead of time.


We want to know – should you and do you tip your barista when buying a coffee?


Over the weekend, a report in the New York Times touched upon the subject by suggesting that America’s age old tradition of tipping may in fact be getting a little out of hand. Or if not out of hand, it’s certainly finding its way into areas of life it didn’t traditionally have any place in. In this instance, the subject concerned the way in which mobile payments systems are leading to more people leaving more tips in more places than ever before – it’s no longer a case of bartender tipping being the be all and end all.


For the purposes of the article, a few instances were highlighted in which some generous folk had paid $4 for a cup of coffee costing $2 – a generous tip in anyone’s book. But what dilutes the apparently generous gesture in these instances is that when mobile payments are used in many of America’s big coffee chains, the customer is actually asked if they want to leave a tip and is presented with the options – anything up to $3 on top of the price of the cup itself. Some have reacted with outrage to the apparent pressure to tip, while others think it’s only fair to give customers the option.


Outside the debate as to the fairness of the mobile payments system however, there are those that believe tipping really doesn’t need to make its way over to the coffee industry as something that’s both standard and expected. The reason being that unlike most bartenders and waiting staff in the US, baristas tend to make minimum wage at least – often more. And this is where the debate kicks off as while it’s natural to leave a tip for outstanding table service or to ensure your bartender can pay their bills, walking up to the counter and ordering a takeaway coffee from someone already earning a standard wage doesn’t necessarily add up to a situation where a gratuity is warranted.


Or does it?


What’s concerning some of the industry’s key players is the way in which some chains and smaller businesses alike have suddenly started making out as though barista tipping is normal, perhaps even mandatory and has been the case all along. There’s nothing wrong with generosity at any level and at any time, but in terms of feeling as though you have to leave a tip when you’ve essentially served yourself – THAT’s what’s put a few bees in a fair few bonnets.


So, it’s over to you – do you think tipping baristas should be mandatory? Or better yet, do you tip yours?