The following is a tipping How-To for coffee buyers and café frequenters alike, usable at all Starbucks locations and other coffee shops around the city.
1. Pick up some worthless change (ie, pennies, nickels, dimes) out of your wallet and hold it in your hand while you make your order, without letting the barista see or hear.
2. Pay for your order with cash from your other hand
3. Hide the crappy change with your middle finger, ring finger, and pinky finger, grasping it tightly, so that the barista can’t see it. (This might be tricky and need a little practice over a pretend tip jar at home).
4. Take the change from the barista with your same hand, but using your thumb and index finger instead.
***IMPORTANT – make sure the exchange takes place over the tip jar. Your hand should be right over the tip jar/mug or very near to it.***
5. Now here’s the switch. You gotta be quick. Right after the barista hands you the change, grasp it with your thumb and index finger, and don’t let go of it. Instead, release your pinky, ring, and middle finger and let the crappy change you were hiding in your fist jangle into the tip jar. Be careful not to miss the tip jar, or you’ll spill pennies and the crap change on the counter and your secret will be all over the place. The point of this trick is to make the barista think they’re getting the loonie or quarters they just handed you as change. You can make them think this with a little practice and agility. I’ve saved a lot of money to buy other coffees this way.
Do’s & Don’ts
*DO watch out for the jangle. When you’re hiding the crappy change in your 3 fisted fingers, don’t let it jangle. Pretend there is only air there.
*DO use nickels. They work good. The more nickels you have, the better. Most people who have ever received tips in a jar know the difference between a dime hitting a pile of change and a quarter hitting a pile of change by the sound it makes. Nickels work best because they resemble quarters in jangle, but you’re only losing 5 cents a pop. If you can only use pennies and/or dimes, make sure you have a whole whop of them to throw in the jar, so that the worthlessness of the change is disguised by many jangles.
*DON’T attempt this practice if the tip jar/mug is empty. It will be obvious to the barista what you are throwing in if it it’s empty.
*DO use coffee cards, credit cards, and debit cards as much as possible. This will avoid you having to tip altogether. Most baristas don’t expect or hope for a tip when you pay with plastic.
*DO have a few frequented Starbucks’ locations to go to if you are practicing this method of tipping. This shouldn’t be difficult with the number of Starbucks’ around, and it’s important to do because if you hit the same Starbucks all the time, baristas will catch on. If they expect that you are tipping them but notice there is never anything good in their tip jar, then they’ll eventually learn what you are doing and they won’t be happy about it. Spreading yourself out allows them to forget about you between visits.
*DON’T stress. Tipping should be fun. If you don’t get it the first few times, don’t give up. There are many Starbucks to practice at, and they have a high turnover so the barista you fucked up in front of probably isn’t going to see you fuck up twice. Enjoy your Starbucks experience and appreciate the people who made your coffee with what little you can spare.