Barrista Babies…

I don’t know about you, but whenever I go into my local Starbuck’s I have a heck of a time just getting my darn coffee and getting out of there. The funny thing is that it doesn’t seem to matter how many customers are there or not there, nor how many barristas are standing behind the counter. They just don’t move like the greased lightning that I’d like them to.

Happily, I’m not addicted to their coffee and don’t need to hit the local unit on a daily basis, or I’d have a serious breakdown and probably end up in jail.

Aside from their slower than molasses in January approach to service, the other thing that kind of gets me is the ubiqutious tip jar. I’ve noticed over the years that many fast food, or fast service places have taken to putting up tip jars on the service counter. And somehow we’ve all become convinced that we should tip the guy for doing his job. I mean, how much service is there involved in ringing up a latte and yelling it to the other pimply-faced kid to make it?

It could very well be that I’m a little sensitive about this because I waited tables for many years and I have the bunions to prove it. Serving coffee to a bunch of people who will patiently wait in line until the milk foam is just right is nothing compared to feeding 50-60 people lunch in a one to two hour period, who are all hungry and in a hurry. Sometimes it’s not too pretty. And truly, for that kind of stuff you do deserve a tip if you give good service.

Many people may not know that the word tip, insofar as the food industry is concerned is an ancronyn that stands for ‘to insure promptness.’ And was a tradition that started in jolly ol’ England during the major seafaring days. When the sailors who’d been out to sea for God knows how long and finally returned to shore they would hit the local pubs. It was a mad house by all accounts and in order to get the serving wench’s attention they would put money on the table. The wenches being the clever gals that they were would naturally go to the tables that had the most pennies waiting there for them. And the money did indeed promptness.

These days the only thing you’re ensuring is that you feel fricking guilty if you don’t tip anybody who seems to expect it.

Anyway, the point of this story is the ridiculous court case that recently came to the conclusion that Starbuck’s had to pay employees millions of dollars in tips that were shared by shift supervisors in their many California stores. This is one of those, now I’ve heard everything stories. Clearly, whomever sat in the jury or the judge or both, never worked in the food industry because if they did, they would realize that a shift supervisor is not a manager – which was their claim – but really just an employee who the management feels is trustworthy enough to give a set of keys to. Actually, generally speaking they are likely the most responsible of the crew and the person who steps in and helps you when everybody else is ignoring you – and basically does all the duties of any regular worker in addition to being responsible that the place doesnt’ burn to the ground.

All this aside, since when does the government get to tell a private company what policy to have in their business – unless it has to do with safety or health the government has no dang business telling Starbuck’s or anyone else who can and who cannot have tips, guiltily extracted from customers too spineless to object.

Personally, I’d like to meet the barristas who filed this lawsuit, I’d be willing to bet they are a hoard of shiftless and relatively useless individuals who really need to get a life. Rather than find a career or job that pays better, they’d rather stick a knife in the back of a fellow worker for a few coins. Yeah, I have to say, this really makes me want to tip them more, how about you?


17 thoughts on “Barrista Babies…

  1. Good Blog. I will continue reading it in the future. Nice layout too.

    Aaron Wakling

    Hey Aaron & welcome,
    Glad you like the place. I see you are quite knowledgeable about credit card debt. It’s nice to have people who want to help others in that way.


  2. Hey Annie – I’m with you about not liking the idea of having to tip people for doing their jobs. Especially at the little sub shop near me where the place is family-run and all they do is make your food and pass it to you – it’s not like you are getting served at the table or anything. And I know people don’t get paid a lot and everything costs more these days but where will it end? Do I get to work as a secretary in an office and put out a cup for tips? Sheesh.

    Hey Teens,
    I really like the idea of secretaries putting a tip jar on their desks – beats asking for a raise and you might even make some extra dough. πŸ˜†


  3. This was going to be a post for me someday but I’ll give it to you just because you’re so damn schweet . . . :mrgreen:

    George Carlin on Starbucks:

    “The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a ‘decaf grande half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappucino, extra dry, light ice, with one sweet-‘n-low, and one NutraSweet,’ oooooh, you’re a huge asshole.”
    How can you not love this guy?

    I’d have to agree with George…that dude is an a$$hole. πŸ˜†


  4. Funny that the first person I thought of after reading Carlin’s quote was you. πŸ˜‰
    Ahhh, Starbucko’s . . .

    LOL, I guess I’m just inspiring that way. πŸ˜‰


  5. I felt the same with the lawsuit mess at Starbucks.Totally on the same page with you here.

    I loved the info on the tipping from ole England! Now we know who to thank. πŸ™‚

    We are fast becoming a Nanny state. The gov tells the owners what to use to cook with,serve and all such manner of nonsense! I get so fed up with it I want to croak. Bet you are right about those employees.

    Ya know, I do feel guilty.. if I leave 10% vs 20% today. I don’t mind tipping for good service but why in the heck do I feel like I may have committed a crime by not leaving more? Slap my face! I’m just a guilty chic.

    Hey Ange,
    This may shock you – but as a former waitress, I’d advise you to leave nothing if you get really bad service. Also, the ‘wait’ industry does pigeonhole certain demographics: two women= lousy tip, family = good tip if father leaves, bad if mother leaves – two men = good tip, especially if flirtable, single man who sits at counter and is lonely = mother load. Of course, while there may be some truth in these breakdowns, sometimes they’re more like self-fulfilling prophecies.


  6. That George Carlin quote in a reply above is hilarious.
    Ah, Carlin is a genius.

    i find this post very insightful and well written, Chica. You are really on your craft.

    i used to visit a Starbucks near my daughters’ school 3 days a week to sip coffee, smoke and people watch. i was a regular and always got good service, even though i gave different names and would sometimes forget that i did and then get all antsy when i didn’t hear “christine? Your sweetened iced coffee is ready…”

    One time i was Mary, Queen of Scots. i got that iced coffee for free.

    The thing about Starbuckies that gets me is that they are EVERYWHERE. i wrote a “poem” about it once. Something like ‘a starbucks, across from a starbucks, inside a starbucks, down the street from a bookstore with a starbucks in it and a starbucks next door…’ and so on like that.

    In Talent, there are no Starbucks. It saves me money and i support my local cafΓ©.

    Hey Chica-chica,
    They are everywhere. In some ways that is comforting – on the other hand, enough already. What annoyed me most about this lawsuit was that it was workers going after other workers – just petty. Hate that stuff.

    I’d like to see that starbuck’s poem. πŸ˜‰


  7. “Why tip someone for a job I’m capable of doing myself? I can deliver food. I can drive a taxi. I can–and do–cut my own hair. I did, however, tip my urologist, because… I am unable to pulverize my own kidney stones.”
    -Dwight, The Office

    Really, tipping is just a way for a business to get you to pay their employees for them. For some reason this is acceptable at a restaurant, hotel, or salon, but if starting tomorrow you were forced to tip your mailman or your bagger at the supermarket, then P.O. boxes would suddenly sell out, and the price of food would drop in proportion to how breakable or squishy it is.

    In some countries, it’s considered rude to tip. The service must be terrible, because their only incentive for putting in any effort at all is that the customer will give them more business in the future.

    Hey QM,
    Funny quote.

    I don’t have a problem tipping someone who gives me good service. True, I don’t tip the mailman but I do bake him brownies every Christmas. What I have a problem with is fast food (that usually isn’t as fast as they’d like you to think) places put out a tip jar – when in essence they aren’t serving – they are taking your order and your money and letting you get it yourself. Ah well, live and let live I guess.


  8. Hi WC,

    Personally, I’ve never been to a Starbucks and, if there is any justice in the universe, I never will. I can get a perfectly acceptable, and bottomless, cup of coffee at the local IHOP for around a dollar. If I want a fancy drink, I’ll go to the local bar and have an Irish Coffee or the like, and probably not pay any more than at Starbucks. So, I’m saving the price difference, and one of these days I’ll be ostentatious by driving a Porsche.

    Oh, if you want ROFL comedy about Starbucks, look up Louis Black’s bit on the subject.

    the Grit

    Now, that’s something I want to see – the Grit, tooling around the fields in his porche, with a rifle in the gun rack on the roof. πŸ˜‰


  9. You are right, Chica.
    It is suckish to take away from co-workers.
    It further demonstrates the desperation and- dare i say- greeeeed- growing in our world.

    Of course, the is the tax on tips,
    so maybe they won’t get that much.

    i think people should get what’s coming to them,
    but i swear Annie,
    more and more i think what’s coming is a big ol kick in the ass.

    LMAO! Yeah, a big ol’ kick in the ass is about right, Chica Chica. πŸ˜†

    But I have to tell you something, awards from lawsuits are not taxable. Yep, you read that right – they won’t pay taxes if they collect. Cute, eh?

    And I honestly don’t have a problem with anyone who wants to make money – more power to them – I’d like a boatload myself – but to take from others – nah, that’s just wrong.



  10. Back when I was waitressing we used to fight over the American customers. They were the big tippers. Tipping is a bit more optional in Australia, but there’s still some guilt thrown in. Me, I’d never tip for a cardboard coffee! (We’re coffee snobs here in Melbourne and don’t go much for the chain store type of cafe)

    Love your snippet about the origin of tipping. I wish it had stayed that way. These things should be 100% optional.

    Hi Hilary!
    Thanks for coming by.

    Wow, you used to fight over the yanks, eh? Too cute.

    Coffee snobs, eh? I love my coffee too and I experiment a lot with different types. Though I favor the african blends/beans – love a good strong cup of coffee – (how else is the spoon to stand up in the cup on its own?). πŸ˜‰


  11. People go way overboard with the tipping thing. A person should tip strippers, waitresses, and any other worker in a service industry that go above and beyond to insure good service.

    Gee, I totally forgot about strippers. πŸ™‚


  12. Strippers don’t get any other money except direct from the clients – at least not ‘here in Melbourne’ as I seem to keep saying. And I have reason to know this. So it’s not exactly tipping as that they won’t dance for you if you don’t give them any money.

    Well, that’s a new spin. You’d never get away with that here in the states. No one can work for free. Though I think strippers do get mega tips here too. Not sure, never worked in the biz so I can’t say.


  13. and I have the bunions to prove it… ha! ha! ha! I didn’t see that sentence coming and LOL. I’ve actually never seen the tip jar except at the Starbucks. Which fast food joint is trying to get tips now? OMG, no way!

    Gee, it seems like there is one everywhere I go – the Subway place, a chicken place I go to sometimes, a pizza place in the neighborhood, countless burger places (not like McDonald’s but indies), the Chinese food place. All over. Maybe it’s just my neighborhood? 😯


  14. Hi WC,

    If you can’t drive it across the field, then why do they come in four wheel drive? Also, I figure packing an Uzi is more appropriate when in a Porsche.

    the Grit

    Hey Grit,
    You’re kidding me – a porche has four wheel drive? Well slap my face and call me stupid, I had no idea. Yeah, a nice designer Uzi would go nicely with that stealth porche. πŸ˜‰


    Well, I AM a shift supervisor @ sbux and have been for 3yrs now. I work there because they provide health insurance @ 20hrs /wk and since I’m a 40hr/week student that is a plus! LET ME TELL YOU IT IS THE WORST/HARDEST JOB I HAVE EVER HAD!!!! I have been a waitress, bartender, car hop, a nanny, my first job was at a dry cleaners w/ no air conditioning(it felt like 200 degrees in that place), an ice cream scooper, I’ve worked retail, a barista at a mom & pop coffee shop, and worked the hospitality desk @ Lifetime Fitness(picking up and washing dirty towels). I feel like I earn the tips more now than I ever did as a waitress(and it’s hard waiting tables) or bartender! You have no idea how mean people can be until you work a full day @ a Starbucks. That line in your picture happens everyday, not because we’re slower than molasses, but because there’s one maybe two people taking your order and one person making your drink, the drink we try SOOO hard to get made in three mins. or less, but you have to steam cold milk to 160(fresh milk for each drink) and each espresso shot takes about 17secs to pull. If it doesn’t pull at the right time that is where the skill comes in & u keep trying until you get it right(otherwise your drink will taste horrible). Then comes the artistry with making good foam(it’s harder than you think! I still have difficulty @ times after 3 yrs), other wise your drink will taste bad. If you want a horrible tasting drink then yeah I’ll have it done it 10secs. tops. The coffee, contrary to popular belief, does not brew itself. It’s just like at home just bigger batches, so once it runs out or is more than 30mins old, someone has to stop & brew more. The frappucinos take FOREVER, etc.
    Now most coffee shops(especially mom & pop ones) use chocolate in a bottle like hersheys or godiva, & whip cream all ready made, and frappucino mix from a packet, etc. At sbux we make our mocha, whipped cream, frappucino mixes, iced tea(we steep tea bags and make two liter pitchers rather than brewing 40 gal like other places), iced coffee, the list goes on. That is why stuff takes a long time. With lines that long, it’s sooo hard to keep up with making mixes and get you, our customer in and out because you think it’s fast food, when really it’s not. It’s not like a soda fountain where all you do is push a button. That is also why we deserve tips. Also as a shift for three yrs, i make $2.50/hr more than a starting barista and $1.50/hr more than a starting shift supervisor. I do all the same stuff as a barista and then some, and ALL responsibility is on me.
    I don’t want to come across as rude. I just want you guys and everyone else to understand that we are not lazy, slow moving, greedy bastards(actually I would describe our customers like that more than I would my partners). My store does on average $30,000/wk. We work HARD and earn those tips! We have 30 partners, at the end of the week we take the money from tips all week between partners & hrs worked. My store avg. $0.90/hr per employee. This last week I got $16 in tips.
    So often I will get a customer, greet them with a smile and ask “Hello, what can we make for you?” they shove a credit card in my face not look at me and say tall coffee. Or the ones on their cellphones who act like I’m being rude because I’m asking what I can get for them while they’re trying to talk on the phone! “What can we make for you?” I say, “uh, I’m sorry Meg hold on a sec… tall non fat mocha”says the customer while throwing $ on the counter rather than in my open hand,”okay mam, but did that comes with whip cream , would you like us to leave it off?” she looks at me annoyed and says, “huh!? What?…No! no whip cream! I said nonfat!” (it comes w/ whip anyway, I was trying to help you out!)then she gets back on her phone & sincerely apologizes to her friend. UGH! I could go on forever…but I already have πŸ™‚
    Sorry I just want people to research before saying so many negative things about your local starbucks baristas, because what you say and feel about us, even though SOME of you don’t say it to our faces( I have had customers cuss partners out and get this…even throw hot coffee on a barista!), we feel it. The way you treat us while we’re serving you most of the time makes us feel like we are the lowest pieces of shit in your eyes.

    Dear Barrista,
    I think you missed the point of this post. My point was that the shift supervisors did deserve to share in the tips and that the court decision was wrong. And just for your info, I spent 20 years in the food/restaurant/service industry and I know how mean people can be and how poorly one can be treated in that industry. As to my local Starbuck’s I’m sorry that it isn’t the one you work in, because you sound conscientious and as though you try to give good service. But all Starbuck’s are not created equally – drop by the Sunland branch if you ever a get a chance. Often, when I go in, there is no one else in line and I am only wanting a bag of coffe ground espresso style – it never takes less than 10-15 minutes. That to me seems a very long time to wait. I’ve made espresso drinks, and know about the ins and outs of foam, etc. – again though, it shouldn’t take five minutes to prepare. I don’t want to get into a nickpicking contest here but I think both sides have good points, yours and the customers.

    Anyway, thanks for you candid comments.



  16. Thank you for responding & I promise not to keep arguing this with you, but you did write this:
    **Aside from their slower than molasses in January approach to service, the other thing that kind of gets me is the ubiqutious tip jar. I’ve noticed over the years that many fast food, or fast service places have taken to putting up tip jars on the service counter. And somehow we’ve all become convinced that we should tip the guy for doing his job. I mean, how much service is there involved in ringing up a latte and yelling it to the other pimply-faced kid to make it?**
    and that is why I don’t agree that I missed the point. You’re not the only person who shares these feelings though, I hear this stuff everyday. I just happened to use your blog to voice my opinion.

    Okay, again, not to get into a protracted discussion here – if you read my response you’ll I’m speaking from my experience and unfortunately, at the Starbux I visit it is true. I believe you may be the exception to the case. If you hear these sort of things all the time, there may be some truth in it. It’s something to consider. It may not be you personally, because you sound conscientious as I previously stated – but perhaps you could step back and look at your co-workers objectively and see if maybe there was any truth in it?

    It’s true, there will always be people who will complain and are nasty – but by and large most people are kind and friendly. I’ve found that I get whatever I focus on. Logic would follow then if you want to feel less upset that perhaps you could focus on all the good customers you come into contact with – rather than getting wrapped up in the nasties – who probably aren’t in the majority.

    In terms of whether or not Starbux is fast food or not…try to look at it from the customer’s point of view – if a person is going to pay $2 -$4 for a cup of coffee, you have to make it worth their wait.

    Anyway, I think it’s time to close this conversation.


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