For Roasters & Retailers

Feeling Manipulated By Digital Tips For Coffee? The Struggle Is Real.


Knowing how much to tip and when to tip has always been a little awkward. But giving digital tips on an iPad in a coffee shop tends to weird some people out. What exactly are we supposed to do here?

And it’s everywhere now. We give digital tips to Uber drivers and food delivery dudes. We now tip before we ever get service.

Is digital tipping a good system for consumers?


Brian Sullivan is a user experience expert. He studies how people interact with technology. And I asked him to make some observations at Ascension Coffee Shop.

He told me digital tips can be good for consumers because they make checkout fast, eliminate the need to carry cash and eliminate the need do math, which people hate. But customers are most motivated to tip, he said, by experiences that bring them joy.

“What I heard from people is that they were really tipping out of brand experiences,” Sullivan said.

“More than just the interaction at the point of sale?” I asked.

“Yes, sir. Much more than just at the point of sale. Tapped into love of this place, love of this coffee, love of this brand,” Sullivan said.

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