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I think something along the lines of R5 is more apprioate. Not necessairly because the coffee or service were exceptional, but more for the taking of the spot. If you are there working, I imagine you are there for a while, so more people cant sit there and he cant make the money. As a waitress I hated when people would come in and sit in my section forever, order next to nothing and then stiff me on a tip.

Good point Sarah. Should have mentioned that the restaurant is always 3/4 empty. It is a very quiet place.

If he is actually serving you, you have to tip. That's the rule I live by. If you order from a counter and stand there while they make it for you, you can either put the change in their little cup or not. I would continue with the R5 tip. But I'm an overtipper by birth, so...

No, sorry, I disagree unless the service is exceptional, I always tip 10%.

If I was there more than 2 hours, yup R5, but not otherwise.
Maybe you should consider 'tipping' your kids to stay away - keep it in the family!! It would work out cheaper as you don't need to pay for coffee at home!

All tongue in cheek I swear!

Love love love your blog, thanks! I said R2 in your vote but if I'm honest, having him look at me when I leave means I'd probably give R5! Also an over-tipper.. guilt thing?!

Always tip. Anything is better than nothing. Besides, you should never NOT do something nice just because you are afraid it will be taken wrong. Does that make sense? Think of it as paying for his time, even if it's just a little. Then, if you're still going there around the holidays, you could leave a big tip - as a show of gratitude.

Here waiters in most restaurants make $2-3 per hour. They don't qualify for minimum wage because it's assumed that their tips make up the difference. So any little thing helps. If my bill for anyting here is, say $5.00 or so, I'll usually leave at least 3 and sometimes 5 just because. (Unless it was horrible service.) It doesn't matter that it's twice the bill -- pass the kindness along, assuming you can afford it.

I am fortunate enough to live in a country where tipping is not customary. Although it is beginning to creep in. So mean little me only tips if the service was actually good. Then again, I've never been known for my tact.

I voted for other. I would have another cup of coffee (less expensive than a capp), pay with 20R and leave the change (if enough, if not, have another drink :)!). How come you only need ONE cup anyway? How long do you stay over there?

Do you read Waiter Rant? He's currently answering questions right now, and he recently did a coffee shop tipping post. It's on his site.

I work a lot at our local coffee emporium. I do so because I need to get out of my house, not because my kids are driving me nuts, but because if I look at these damn walls anymore I might go insane. Our local coffee shop is independently owned (not a Starbucks) and a cup of coffee there is $1.50, so this fits your example to a T. When I sit down, I order coffee (dark roast) and a muffin. The muffin is $1.75 and they are BIG. The coffee cup is large and can be refilled for free over and over and over. I love this coffee shop. LOVE IT.

When I go, my cost is less than $5 for the coffee and muffin. But since I drink at least 3 cups during my work hours, I almost always pay them $5, and then leave a buck or two in the tip jar at the register. The people there know me, and the one guy who makes my coffee wears a kilt and is ADORABLE, so I don't mind paying him for his complements. He loves my t-shirts and always has something interesting to say about my daily choice in attire. Oh, and did I say he was adorable? Just yummy.

TIP! I waitressed my way through varsity (at a SPUR! but don't tell anyone!) and any tip was welcome. Of course nowadays waitrons might be more discerning, but I never looked down my nose at someone who left me something, it was the rudeys who sat, drank bottomless coffe, took up my valuable table, and then payed in 2cent pieces, those are the okes that really got on my nerves! So tip! (especially if he's cute!)

Hi Tertia Albertyn,

I am curious - if such an innocuous situation gets your knickers in a twist, how do you handle the whole petrol station vibe?

Do you tip the attendant?

Do you ask them to put in R198 unleaded, and then drive off swiftly?

Do you avoid this altogether, and cycle everywhere?

We don't tip here - unless it's dinner and the food is really good.


You clearly weren't around when I did the infamous anti-cycling post. Cycling is a bit like religion around here. We don't like to talk about that anymore.

Always always tip the petrol station dudes, lots. They really need the tips too. But that bill is not ten bucks, so giving a decent tip is not over the top. I think you have to be a bit of a doos not to tip the petrol guys. Those guys work damn hard, often in really kakky weather.


I consider tipping at coffee places the same as at restaurants - 15-20% is customary. It may not seem like much if it is a small order, but it is better than nothing. At coffee shops where they don't serve you (St*rb*cks). I usually toss some change in the jar. They see so many customers every day that a little change in the jar from each person helps.

OK. I have a confession. Nobody knows this except for my really close friends.I am really bad with tipping. My friends are always doing it on my behalf. In fact I think that I am rather stingy. Please don't attack me as I don't think that I could bear it. I am trying to change. I have started to do it now (only if the service is good)and will hopefully make progress and do it everytime I go to a restaurant. I always give the car guard a R2 or so. Must admit that I've never even considered tipping the petrol attendant. Oh gosh, feeling extremely guilty. Need therapy to deal with this issue.

I always tip 10% unless the service sucked! Then nothing. Sorry - that is your job.

I never tip car guard attendants - what am I paying insurance for??? Put I usually tip petrol attendants primarily because I go once, get a fill up and the works (check petrol, oil, clean windshield, everything) and that lasts me a good 3 weeks.

Forgot to say...

Someone once told me that women are the worst at tipping the petrol attendants.

Now this is weird - I was at the car wash the other day and a GUY asked me if R50 is okay to tip the guys. I nearly choked on my water. Tip them??? Why are you paying R40 - R50 for then? So clearly you can see I don't tip the guys at the car wash :)

Hot waiters get better tips. Give the hot coffee guy an extra R5 every time. (Especially sweet or efficient waiters and waitresses also get more.)

I am terrible at punishing servers for poor service with small or no tips. Usually I deliver my stern rebuke in the form of a 10% tip...which probably makes me look like a not-especially-generous tipper rather than an angry customer. 20% is my baseline, and I tend to round up rather than down. If I occupy the table for a really long time, preventing a fresh paying customer from being seated in my server's section, I tip extra (30%, or more if the bill was small).

My 2 cents (no pun intended haha) is that you should always tip, even if it is small... R2.00 is good and if you have been there a while then R5.00 - it also helps that the waiter is cute! I am an overtipper, guess it comes from my time waitresssing... I hated it when large groups came in, had a large bill and left a teeny tip - I once got a 50 cent tip from a bill of about R500.00 - super annoyed I tossed it back to the guy and told him he needed it more!!!

I worked at a fast-food-ish coffee place (Tim Horton's). I 25cent tip is celebrated. Believe me. And our tips are split among all staff on duty.

Tertia, your kids are way old enough to be given one of those false choices that isn't a choice. I've got a velcro kid, too, and here's what I say when I want to work at home:

"Munchkin, Mommy has to work now. You can go downstairs and play and I can work here at home or I can go to the office to work. If you come upstairs, I'll have to go to the office. Now, give me a hug and go downstairs and play."

Twice I had to go ahead and go to the office. Now she leaves me to work when I ask her to.

I say leave either R2 or R5 depending on what sort of cash you've got. No tip is rude, IMO.

I'd be interested to see how the voting breaks down by country. I'm guessing that the most, if not all, US respondents say that something is better than nothing. Being from the US, I find that I can't bear to NOT tip, even when I'm in countries where it's not necessary or the norm. The newspapers here often print articles on how to tip and how much. Forget the holidays, when I go crazy trying to figure out how much to tip the newpaper delivery man, the cleaning lady, the kids caregivers, etc. etc.

I usually only tip in restraunts where I know that wait staff is not making minimum wage and they expect to supplement their income with tips. I believe that coffee shop workers in the states are paid minimum wage so tips to them are like whipped cream on the coffee. Sometimes I will tip if the shop is busy or if the barista looks especially tired. But I also run into the dilemma of not having extra small bills or change on me. I almost never have cash of any kind. So, for me, if they make a decent paycheck, I'm not going to tip. I'd rather tip someone whoe makes less than $3/hour.

Tertia, even the though resturant is 3/4 empty, I still think the higher tip is the way to go. Another way to look at it is if you always have the same guy (which you do) and you come in, you can expect better service. Soon, he may start getting your coffee ready for you when you come in, knowing what you want, rather than having to order. Or if several people come in at once, he'll most likely help you first. Interesting aside, I am from the US but now live in Japan where you dont tip for anything, its rude to tip. Its been a very hard and conscience effort to break the habit.

ok, I voted twice, once for 'R2, something is better than nothing' - absolutely, I would rather get a little bit of something than nothing at all, if I was a waitress and had more than one customer like that throughout the day all the R2 add up.

I also voted for 'depends on how hot the waiter is' - come on, I cant believe more people didn't pick this option!!!! Who hasn't given that cute waiter a little extra?

I live in the US, in a major city, where (as far as I know) it is customary to tip 20% of the bill before taxes for good service, or at least 15% unless the service was seriously flawed. This is for table service, mind you. 10% is fine for counter service or buffets, maybe a little more if you're at a buffet restaurant but getting table service for drinks. Tipping 50% of the bill, even of a small bill, seems like a lot to me, though I suppose it's reasonable if you're there for hours and the waiter gives very good service. Personally, I can't imagine a waiter being insulted by a 20% tip, but then again, I have no idea what the tipping customs are in SA.

And yeah, "working at home" is a joke with kids around! If my boy is around, he'll be quiet for ages, and then start yelling "mama!" as soon as I'm on the phone with a client. Impossible to pretend to be professional, when you've got someone loudly demanding more juice in the background!

Jeez, I thought the 10% tip went out with poodle skirts. I try to tip 20% at sit down places, maybe a little less for counter service, depending on the change. If I get a coffee and it is $3.10 I'm going to feel like a loser taking some of the change and giving them the rest. I just give them the whole 90¢.

I also worked as a coffee shop waitress to get me through school and if someone just ordered a cup of coffee, I was usually happy with a 25-cent tip (coffee was about a dollar so it was about a 25% tip).

If the restaurant was busy and some twit was sitting there taking up one of my tables drinking a lousy cup of coffee, I would put a curse on him/her.

So I would say that as long as the restaurant was slow, continue to sip away and leave 2R or 5R because even those little tips add up after a while.

It depends. Is the waiter serving you, bringing you the coffee, milk, sugar, sugar substitute, napkin, stirrer and cleaning up after you? Then yes, it should be a full tip of whatever is customary in your country.

If it's a place where you order from the counter. *You* take your coffee to *your* table. *You* go to the sugar-milk-stirrer-napkin table to choose what *you* need. *You* bring your finished coffee stuff to the trash. Then, I think no tip is needed.

Considering it's about $1.50 for a cup of coffee, a 2R is generous enough since that's 20% of your total bill. My husband is an extremely generous tipper and I'm a tight wad who wants him to leave it in his wallet. However, we agree on one thing, we don't tip for coffee even if it costs $3.60 for a large latté.

I'd say R2 is better than nothing, however I also believe in "spreading the happiness" and am an (overly) generous tipper. Probably a throw-back from my days of minimum-wage earning during college.

For a LOT of serving staff it's not a supplement to their income - it IS their income!

I work in a coffee shop, and you are definitely right about the whole surviving on tips thing. When it comes to people leaving a tip anything is better than nothing, even the 3 cents (I don't know what that would be equal to in Rand) they just got back as change is great, it all adds up pretty quickly. So they won't be offended if you give them whatever little bit because in their head they are thinking "great, only like 4 or 5 more customers and I'll have *insert amount* and can pay the phone bill!" or whatever they are saving for. Unless of course they are a snob or extremely ungrateful, then just ignore them ;)

I had the same experience when I used to work from home and spent several afternoons a week at the same cafe where I would camp out when it was hot because I had no air conditioning at home. I got to know the girls behind the counter (no table service) and ended up leaving a 5 or seometimes even a 10 dollar bill in the tip jar about once a week. I would usually just order an iced tea so it probably worked out to a 50-100% tip depending on how many days I was there. I also always felt cheap just throwing 30 cents or whatever the chage was in the tip jar although I did that too sometimes. They were such sweet girls, all students, and always remembered my order and never pushed me to leave even when I took up a prime table for several hours on a busy day (and 5-10 bucks a week in tips is still way cheaper than paying for air conditioning at home) so it seemed like a fair price to me. Oh, and they would even turn the music down for me if I needed to answer an important call. Sitting here stuck in my stuffy office I miss those days.

That said, in someplace like Starbucks I never tip for coffee. This was a small, locally owned business with fantastic service so it felt different.

“my kop raas” Love it. Wish I knew how it was pronounced so I could use the expression here in the States. Saying, "my head is full of noise" in English not quite the same as an idiomatic expression. I overtip for coffee--more in the neighborhood of 33% more though. I figure there's a fixed amount to tip, and then after that I'm a pretty steady 17-20% gal.

If the server actually has to walk across the room to bring you something, a tip is necessary. If you walk up to the counter and he hands you the cup, a tip is not necessary. Unless, of course, you want to tip the person who makes you a nonfat mocha latte with whip, which requires finesse.

In the states, the minimum tip in a restaurant, for a meal, is 15%. Anything less than that indicates that you thought you received poor service. For great service/hot waiters, I go as high as 20%. I think a 50% tip is kind of high, no matter how hot the waiter is. But since it's coffee, which is inexpensive anyway, I would tend to tip on the high end because the man still has to walk across the room and deliver it to you, then refill it, most likely.

We practically live at our local Starbucks, and they all have known my twins since they were born. It's kind of like family. They put up with our big double stroller, everyone comes over to say hi, and I ALWAYS put a dollar bill in the tip jar. Even though they don't bring us coffee, they have been great to us over the years, holding babies, cleaning up cheerios, bringing the boys treats on the house.

Any place I go to work I make sure I order a drink every couple of hours and tip really well. At least a dollar if not more, no matter how low the bill. If the bill is higher, 20% for good service.

I don't think we tip gas station attendants here. It's mostly self-service.

I hate figuring out what to tip in coffee shops, and it is only coffee shops that bother me! These days, I mostly stick to my regular place, so to help with the situation I have started pre-purchasing my coffee for the week. I put it on a card, because I don't carry that much cash around, and then I can just add a tip for the whole week. It works so much better, though from the sound of your place, pre-paying likely isn't an option.

I generally tip baristas generously. Making espresso is a true skill and that should be acknowledged. Especially with all the customization involved - non fat double tall no whip etc.

I always tip the customary 15%. 20% if it was really good service. There are a few exceptions when I go higher. (1) the hairdresser who cuts my son's hair (he has some S.I.D. issues there) - she gets a 50% tip. ALWAYS - I figure it's worth the trouble he gives her! (2) if I tie up the table for long and am not spending $$ on a meal. I figure that if I occupied the table for a few hours, they could've made more money serving more customers, so I need to compensate them for that. Just my .02

Tip no matter what. Even if someone is barely doing anything for you and the bill is really low you should tip. It's not the waitperson's fault you didn't spend alot, but, they still put in their time and energy. It takes the same effort to bring a cup of coffee, ask if you want another and clean up after you as it does to bring a steak in a diner.
And, if you are self-serving, I would also tip because you are taking up space (even if the place is slow... they still have rent to pay) and you are using their electricity.
15-20+ % tipper here.
Less for poor service.

In Australia tipping is not "compulsory" so I voted "depends on service". I'm pretty sure waiters are paid a higher wage here than in the States which is why in this country they don't depend on tips - hence, its not a given that we will tip. If the service is good, I'll round it up, if the service is great, I'll add a bit more. If the service is below par, then I don't tip. When I have travelled to countries where tipping is "compulsory", I tend to go with the 10-15% rule.

I was a bartender and a waiter for far too many years, it's about the service and understanding they are making a couple bucks an hour (at least here in the states).

I was a bartender and a waiter for far too many years, it's about the service and understanding they are making a couple bucks an hour (at least here in the states).

What is R10? In the US - we tip 10 or 15%.. not sure how that compares to your "R" way of tipping.

As a former server (in the us, where we make 2.35/hr and live on tips alone - I know not all countries are the same) I have to say that when someone parked at one of my tables and left a piddly tip, it drove me absolutely bonkers. People were taking up a table I could have turned over so someone ELSE could have sat there and I could have made ANOTHER tip - but no, little old blue haired ladies (mostly) would sit and chat and then leave 10% of their bill. Very vexing! If SA servers work for their tips and not regular wages, just remember that while you are sitting there spending your dollar fifty, they are missing out on whatever tips they would be getting from the table that would be sitting there normally.

Did that make sense? Probably not, I'm brain dead this time of night.

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