Waiter Rant Follow-up Will Tell You How Much to Tip Your Barista

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Photo: HarperCollins

We’ve just scored an advance copy of Steve Dublanica’s follow-up to Waiter Rant ahead of its November 2 publication. Keep the Change: A Clueless Tipper’s Quest to Become the Guru of the Gratuity documents the author’s quest to find out how much you should be tipping everyone from your doorman to your dominatrix. Of course, one chapter lays down some ground rules for tipping waiters: Yes, you do have to tip on that $400 bottle of wine. When ordering sushi, leave 15 percent for your waiter and 5 percent in the sushi chef’s tip jar. Tip 10 percent on takeout and 15 percent on a buffet. And don’t grease the maitre d’s palm since it makes you look like a poseur. But what about bartenders and baristas?

The question of how exactly to tip a bartender has been the subject of some debate. Four years ago, bartenders were saying $1 per drink wasn’t enough, and an older Irish bartender from midtown tells Dublanica that indeed he prefers 20 percent, and that he should get anywhere from $1.50 to $2 on a $10 drink. In fact, he has a way of convincing customers to leave him more: When he breaks a $20, he’ll put a $5 bill on top of the singles and then hover over them while they decide about the tip. They’re more likely to give him the fiver.

Okay, so what do you tip a barista? At Starbucks, tip jars aren’t allowed and there’s no space for a tip on credit-card checks, though customers often leave their change as a gratuity. A barista there tells Dublanica he makes about $50 per week in gratuities, and considers a 50-cent tip “really generous.” Compare that to the baristas who are paid $10.50 to $16 per hour at Portland’s Ristretto — one of them tells Dublanica he should be tipped $1 per drink just like a bartender. He makes about $32 in tips during a four-and-a-half-hour shift, and tips end up being about 40 percent of his income.

Oh, and what might happen if you fail to tip a pizza delivery guy 15 to 20 percent, or the price of a gallon of gas, whichever is higher (per one pie runner's advice)? Says one, “I’d just take the pizza out of the bag and let it get cold.”