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A tip at your fingertips for your Starbucks barista

Starbucks coffee chain's mobile-pay app will soon feature a tipping option.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 17, 2014 1:06PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.

MoneyTalksNews on MSN MoneyDid you enjoy an especially tasty caramel macchiato at Starbucks this morning? Now you can let your barista know just how much you appreciated your caffeine pick-me-up with a tip. And we're not referring to tossing a few coins in a glass tip jar.

Espresso machine with mug, close-up © nd61, SuperStockStarbucks has added three options -- 50 cents, $1 or $2 -- to its mobile payment app, giving customers a chance to tip their barista digitally, said The Seattle Times.

"We think it’s going to be great for our baristas," chief digital officer Adam Brotman said in an interview at Starbucks' Sodo headquarters. He said customers have been requesting a tipping feature for the app for some time.

The new tipping option, which will be available March 19, is a key feature in the recent redesign of Starbucks' iPhone app, said the Times. As the self-proclaimed "largest mobile-payments retailer in the U.S.," and potentially the world, the Seattle-based coffee chain has more than 10 million active app users, and processes 5 million mobile payments each week.

Until now, tips could only be made with cash. The mobile tipping option will be sent to customers' phones via a push notification, said Forbes. The new app is being rolled out solely in the U.S., but Forbes says Starbucks plans on expanding digital tipping to other markets soon.

Digital tips have the potential to boost baristas' take-home pay. But, The Associated Press says :

The move puts a spotlight on what can be a sensitive topic for customers, workers and even Starbucks, which has faced lawsuits over how it divvies up the contents of tip jars among workers. Some customers are happy to tip for friendly service, knowing that baristas don't earn that much. Others say that they already fork over enough money and shouldn't be made to feel like they should throw money into a tip jar as well.

Starbucks says the tips will be paid out to workers in cash.

I'm not a coffee drinker, so I don't know if and how much you should tip a barista. What are your thoughts on Starbucks' new mobile-tipping option?

More on Money Talks News

Mar 18, 2014 4:54AM
I don't think I will go to Starbucks anymore. Rather than having the customers pay the salaries of the employees, the company should pay them. Tipping should go away. I have been living in Europe for the last 4 years, and tipping does not exist. Unless you are American and don't know any better. I have even had servers in restaurants ask me what that's for when I initially tried to tip when I first moved here to Belgium. It's considered an insult to imply that their employer does not pay them enough. Paying the salary of the employee is the responsibility of the business owner. The restaurants and even Starbucks are no more expensive here than back home in the USA.
Mar 18, 2014 4:47AM
I tip wait staff as they make significantly below minimum wage and it's part of their salary. I tip my hair dresser because he provides me superior service and I have been going to him for years. I am not tipping someone to make me a cup of coffee. THAT pay should be included in the price of the coffee. Should I then tip the fast food worker who takes my order? When does it stop? Nope, not doing it.
Mar 18, 2014 7:45AM

I will tip a waiter or waitress. I refuse to tip someone for pouring me an overpriced cup of coffee.

If "Bigbucks" refuses to pay their staff with the profit margin they are making on their coffee. Shame on them.

We are already being taxed and tipped to death in this country.


By the way if you are complaining you can't raise your family on minimum wage then you have realized the reality of minimum wage. It is not to support your family but to provide an entry level job for young folks to gain working skills.

Mar 18, 2014 10:28AM
Tipping is getting out of hand.  Starbucks encourages tipping because it means they can get away with paying their employees less.   
Mar 18, 2014 8:49AM
What is it with anyone who hands anything to you now wants a tip? These people are paid minimum wage or more I am not going to pay extra for my coffee everyday. I'll simply not go to Starbucks. I have a family to feed and I refuse to supplement someones income for simply doing their job. It's a different story with waiters and waitresses who don't even come close to minimum wage. They pay taxes on estimated tips. People at Starbucks do not. #boycottStarbucks
"customers have been requesting a tipping feature"  I call bullsh#t

Mar 18, 2014 9:04AM
A cup of coffee at starbucks costs as much as 3 pots of coffee from my house & they are giving me a option for tipping there employees? Drop a $1 off the cost and I will give them that. I don't support companies that support inflation.
Mar 18, 2014 10:43AM

Rule No.1 No tipping for "to go" service. When McDonalds sets out a tip jar, I'll start tipping.

Rule No.2 No tipping the owner of the business. He gets the profits.

Rule No.3, see rule 1 & 2.

Mar 18, 2014 11:27AM

Please find enclosed my digital tip in the amount of  $0.00.

Mar 18, 2014 9:00AM
Starbucks is too expensive for my taste. I don't ever go there. Who wants to pay $4.00 for a cup of fancy coffee topped with whip cream and chocolate? If they depended on people like me for business, they would have gone out of business a long time ago. I can make it at home at less than a half of the cost.
Mar 18, 2014 11:49AM
Tip someone for handing you a cup of bad coffee?  No thanks
Mar 18, 2014 8:07AM
why do Starbuck's DT employees think they are any more deserving than the guy/gal who puts my Big Mac in a bag? Because they are a little older and think they are trendy? I love Starbuck's like anyone else, but they typically make more than minimum wage (unlike said McD worker). Also when minimum wage goes up to $10.50 do they really think they are getting a tip? Maybe if every cup comes out with the foam in a design like a leaf or something!
Mar 18, 2014 11:23AM
Give them a raise, why should we have to pay them, in addition to the crazy prices for a lousy cup of coffee. Starbucks can well afford to pay them a decent wage.  Talk about nerve !
Mar 18, 2014 11:39AM
Whoever came up with the idea of tipping should be tarred and feathered. That's why I love New Zealand.  They don't "demand" tips as some here in the US do for just doing their job.
Mar 18, 2014 11:57AM
You tip your hairdresser once you know you received a good cut.  You tip your server when you know the food and service is good.  You tip at Starbucks prior to knowing what your experience is?  NOT!
Mar 18, 2014 12:39PM

This is just a way for   to pay workers less. I will never give a tip at starbucks , McD, or wendys


How about tipping the bus driver or train conductor too. This is so nuts.. they have so much nerve to try to get away with this

Mar 18, 2014 8:30AM
I don't believe in tips there. The employees make at least minimum wage. That is totally different from someone waiting tables. In Pennsylvania you only make $2.83 an hour waiting tables. You need to rely on that tip to make a living. To me working at a place like that is no different than working in a department store or an auto parts store. There is a real federal minimum wage for everyone except when it comes to wait staff. The federal government does not take into consideration how little a waiter makes after tipping out others in the restaurant before they get to keep what's left. Plus hoping that a cheap a-hole leaves a decent tip even after exceptional service.
Mar 18, 2014 8:39AM
I see no compelling reason to EVER go to Starbucks, or to EVER tip ANYONE.  Not once in my 50 years of working has anyone tipped me for doing my job.
Mar 18, 2014 12:19PM
Every time I have tipped at SB they don't say thank you. It's like they expect it no matter what. And I drink it black. 

Mar 18, 2014 11:36AM

I only tip when I get great service and there had been no screw ups in my simple order.  but to make people feel that they have to tip is just not right..shame on you upper management for thinking that we your customers will make the difference in the barista's have enough to pay the baristas their worth at a cup of coffee starting at $3.00 and there is always a line wait.  shame on corporate....

Mar 18, 2014 12:30PM
I think all service industries need to be reminded of what tips are for.  The word "tip" is an acronym that stands for "to insure prompt service",  If you receive lousy or slow service there shouldn't be any obligation to tip at all.  While I agree with arm7253 that we should pay people in the service industry a living wage, that would of course, hike the cost of food and drink to cover the payroll expenses incurred. Then we'd get lousy service and pay more for our meals/drinks.  I use as an example, a trip to Paris where the waiters are slow and rude!  I think you underestimate how much a good waiter/waitress can earn in tips.  I used to wait tables at a well known Chicago pizza establishment.  During the lunch rush, I could earn more in tips in a day than I earn now in a week. There were others who didn't do that well because they forgot to smile, check back with their tables regularly and thank their patrons for coming in.  Those were the servers that spent most of their time looking at their emails/Facebook & twitter accounts or flirting with the other staff than doing their J.O.B. !.  
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