A Tip at Your Fingertips for Your Starbucks Barista

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

Did 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.

Starbucks 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? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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