Do You Tip at Starbucks? All You Need to Know

starbucks cafe

With over 15,000 locations in the USA alone, Starbucks is one of the most popular coffee houses in the world, let alone the US.

In fact, Starbucks’ net revenue in 2021 was over $24 billion so they’re clearly doing something right when it comes to serving up coffee.

But if you’ve landed on this page, you’ll be wondering whether it’s customary to tip employees at Starbucks.

In this post, we’re going to explore all the data to see whether you should tip at Starbucks and how much, what the average salary is of a Starbucks employee, the cost of a coffee, and when you shouldn’t tip.

Do You Tip at Starbucks? The Short Answer

It isn’t customary to tip a Starbucks barista or other worker. However, most Starbucks workers generally only receive slightly above minimum wage so you may feel it is in good conscience to offer them a tip, especially around the holidays.

How Much Do Starbucks Baristas and Other Employees Earn?

When deciding whether to tip, it’s often sensible to look at what the employees of a company earn.

We’ve done some digging and have come up with the following figures for Starbucks employees:

Starbucks RoleAverage Hourly Rate
Food Service Worker$11.50 per hour
Barista$13.15 per hour
Cafe Assistant$13.84 per hour
Shift Leader$15.24 per hour
Manager$17.83 per hour
Source: Indeed

The federal minimum wage for 2022 is $7.25 but most states set their own minimum which varies.

For example, the minimum wage in New Jersey is $13 per hour whereas in Ohio it’s only $9.30.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s clear that Starbucks’ average hourly rates are nothing to write home about. If you’re employed as a Barista you won’t be earning much above the minimum wage in many states.

Things improve slightly for Shift Leaders and Managers but their hourly rates are still relatively low.

While it’s not set in stone that you must tip a barista or coffee shop worker, on the basis of the above figures, you might decide that a tip is warranted, especially if you receive a good service.

This is a similar conclusion we reached when we looked at whether Petco groomers should be tipped. We found they also receive close to minimum wage and concluded it is normally in good conscience to tip them for this reason.

The Average Cost of a Drink at Starbucks

Another factor you might consider is the cost of your food and drink at Starbucks.

You might feel more inclined to offer a tip if you’re being sold products at a reasonable price.

The average cost of a drink from Starbucks in the US is $2.75 with the most expensive location, New York, charging $3.25.

The US fares pretty well globally when compared to countries like Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, and Belgium where a cappuccino will set you back an average of $6.

The average cost of a cup of coffee in the US is $2.70 so the average price of $2.75 charged at Starbucks is only just above what you’d expect elsewhere.

It seems clear, therefore, that a cup of coffee from Starbucks is unlikely to break the bank, meaning you may feel more willing to dip into your pocket when it comes to tipping.

How Much To Tip?

If you’ve decided that you’re going to offer a tip then you’ll need to consider whether you’re going to offer a fixed sum or a percentage.

It’s commonplace to offer between 10-20% as a tip in the US and we see no reason to depart from that when tipping at Starbucks.

If your full order comes to $10 then $1-2 should suffice.

How much you offer is a personal choice but we wouldn’t advise tipping below $1, which begins to look rather tight-fisted and miserly.

When To/When Not To Tip?

coffee on table

There will be situations when a tip is certainly warranted and also others where a tip should be withheld.

Here are some examples of when you might want to tip:

  • If the server was professional, courteous, and polite;
  • If the server went beyond the call of duty for you (for example, if they’ve helped you with your coffee choice, have helped you find a seat, or done something not usually expected);
  • If they’ve been efficient and made good coffee;
  • At Christmas or other holidays.

Alternatively, you might think twice about tipping if:

  • The server has been rude or unprofessional;
  • There are issues with your order;
  • The service is slow or inefficient.

Can You Tip On the Starbucks App?

Yes, you can tip on the app.

If you go to the home page of the app and click “history”, you can then click the arrow on your transaction and it allows you to leave a tip for up to 2 hours after you’ve made the purchase.

You can also turn on app notifications and this should also bring up a clickable item that allows you to tip.

The tipping function allows you to tip between $0.50 to $2.00.

We understand from our research that these tips are distributed into a “tip pool” and the grand total of the tips is then shared equally amongst the workers at the end of the shift.

What About at the Drive-Thru?

This is entirely up to you. Again, it’s not customary to tip at the drive-thru but the same considerations as above will apply.

If you feel like you’ve received good service then you may be inclined to offer a tip but it’s unlikely you will be looked on unfavorably if you don’t dip into your pocket.

Final Thoughts

Tipping at Starbucks is not required so it’s unlikely you will be frowned upon if you don’t leave one.

Starbucks is different from many restaurants/cafes in that its pay structure isn’t one that is so low that its employees are expected to make up their earnings in tips.

However, given the fairly modest base earnings of a Starbucks employee and the average prices of its drinks, you may well think it is in good conscience to offer a tip, especially if you’ve received excellent service. We thought something similar when looking at whether to tip a Sonic carhop.

Starbucks is slightly different from many cafes in that they don’t generally provide table service and that’s probably why tipping at Starbucks is less common than in other coffee shops where this service is provided.

Remember that Starbucks now makes it easy to tip their staff by providing functionality on the Starbucks app which allows you to leave between $0.50 – $2.00 which is then shared amongst the other workers.

About the author

Oliver graduated from law school in 2008 and has practiced exclusively in the field of civil litigation for the last 10 years. He has a wealth of experience and expertise in litigation involving complex quantum and large financial losses. He has achieved numerous 7 figure settlements and has been involved in multi-billion dollar class-action consumer lawsuits against companies such as the Volkswagen Group. Away from the law, he is a personal finance writer, having been featured in key publications such as Yahoo Finance, GO Banking Rates, NewsBreak, MEL Magazine, and many more.



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