Former Server Says She Refuses To Tip At The Starbucks Drive-Thru When 'All You're Doing Is Taking A Cup & Handing It To Someone'

Another day, another tipping debate.

Last updated on Apr 05, 2024

woman paying at drive thru RDNE Stock project / Pexels

Every now and then, we may treat ourselves to something nice from the drive-thru. We place our order, pull our car around, and have a pleasant exchange with the person taking our payment. 

But should we tip the people at the drive-thru window? It's a debate one woman sparked after admitting that she refuses to tip Starbucks workers, in particular, when she goes through the drive-thru.

Meghan Elinor, a former server, denounced the idea of tipping a worker in a drive-thru, pointing out that the workers don't actually do any work other than handing you your finished drink at the window.


Elinor refuses to tip at the Starbucks drive-thru window when they're just 'taking a cup' and handing it to you.

In Elinor's video, she stitched a video of another woman asking if tipping Starbucks workers at the drive-thru is a requirement. "Are we tipping Starbucks now?" the woman asked. "Are we tipping people now at the window?"

Elinor immediately refuted the idea, loudly proclaiming that "we are not tipping at the Starbucks drive-thru."



RELATED: Woman Says She Refuses To Tip Anywhere She's Not Actually Being Waited On — 'I'm Not Paying To Work Here!'


She continued, saying that as a former server, she is "exceptionally passionate" about the rules of tipping, and what constitutes leaving a tip at all.

"I worked in the service industry for the first ten years of my life," she revealed. "From the time that I was legally able to work at the age of 14/15 until I was 24/25, so about nine to ten years."

Elinor acknowledged that being a server is a difficult job, along with working as a busser and a runner. While she will usually leave hefty tips at restaurants for those people, she refuses to do the same for people working at the drive-thru window.

"Listen I love [Starbucks workers], I do, but I'm not going to tip you when all you're doing is taking a cup and handing it to somebody outside the window."


While Elinor knows the philosophy around tipping is a "controversial" one, especially on social media, she's "not sorry" about withholding tips from Starbucks drive-thru workers.

Former Server Admits She Refuses To Tip At The Starbucks Drive-Thru WindowPhoto: Ketut Subiyanto / Pexels

Working as a barista, especially at Starbucks, isn't an easy job.

While many people agreed with Elinor's take, pointing out that tipping culture has spun out of control, others condemed her reasoning for not tipping, criticizing her for downplaying how stressful and difficult it can be to work at Starbucks.


"You do understand that the amount you tip goes to all the workers right? Not just the people working the window," one user remarked. Another user pointed out, "Starbucks Batista here — it’s a lot harder than most assume it is. And yes those tips are divided amongst all of the Baristas, [and] the entire store."

A third user added a very important point about how hard baristas work for little pay: "I'm a former Starbucks worker... I was making $8 an hr! While making 100+ drinks a day. It's not as easy as you say."

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Though the workers Elinor refuses to tip are at the drive-thru window, who's to say that they aren't also a barista? Perhaps they work the drive-thru window part-time, and make drinks for customers when they aren't taking payments at the window.


And baristas aren't just making drinks and taking payment; they clean and stock the store, deal with rude customers who haven't had their cup of coffee yet, and are expected to be on their feet for hours at a time.

Former Server Admits She Refuses To Tip At The Starbucks Drive-Thru WindowPhoto: Los Muertos Crew / Pexels

According to GlassDoor, Starbucks baristas make an average of $17-$19 per hour, which "includes base salary and additional pay." Additional pay refers to tips, which serve as only roughly 5.5% of their total salary. ZipRecruiter says Starbucks baristas make an average of $32,343 per year, with pay ranging from $7.93 to $18.75 per hour.


When you think about it, that's not much for the amount of work these baristas do.

Back in 2017, current and former Starbucks baristas revealed the harsh realities of the job, claiming that the company views workers as machines rather than human beings, that workers aren't allowed to have conversations with customers, and they deal with sky-high stress levels to meet demand.

At the end of the day, it's a thankless job.


Minimum wage workers depend on their tips, even if they aren't serving food in a sit-down setting. The least customers can do is tip a little extra, especially considering that they are more than willing to drop $5 or more on a drink.

RELATED: A Barista Realized She Gets Paid The Same No Matter How Hard She Works So She Shows What Happened When She Stopped Trying

Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.