Token of appreciation for baristas
December 8, 2011 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Baristas - I'd like to show appreciation for you this Christmas. What is an appropriate way to do this?

I spend inordinate amounts of hours at a particular coffee house which employs a handful of shift-worker baristas, all of whom know me by name. They are very friendly and professional, so I'd like to show them they are all equally appreciated. What sort of thoughtful trinket or item do you think they may appreciate? FWIW all of them except one are women.
posted by yoyoceramic to Human Relations (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Large tips. Seriously, when you're waiting on people, those who leave large tips stand out.

Plus, everyone loves money. Nothing says "I love you" in a business transaction better than money.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:15 PM on December 8, 2011 [17 favorites]

I have been on the receiving end of similar transactions - money in a card would be my first suggestion - it's not super-personal, yeah, but it will make them think warmly of you. Alternatively, if there's a nice business nearby - bookstore, co-op, not something like "home-made candle shop" that not everyone would be into - a gift certificate would be fine.
posted by Frowner at 1:19 PM on December 8, 2011

I agree with money but I would say a little card with their name on it and however much you'd like to give them inside.
posted by beccaj at 1:19 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I was a barista, I had a customer who got my name wrong for a YEAR and then she gave each of us a card with $20 in it for Christmas and she was my favorite customer forever and I always gave her the star treatment after that. Not just because of the cash, but because I thought she was so considerate to give each of us such a generous gift.

The customer who gave us each a single tea light candle in a snowflake shaped holder, not so much. I mean, yeah, that was thoughtful, but what am I going to do with a single tiny candle.

Maybe you could hire someone to come in and give them massages. (Coordinate with the manager.)
posted by milk white peacock at 1:34 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Speaking for my husband the barista, cash money is very nice. He also has several customers with whom he discusses music, and they've given him mix cds and the like. On behalf of my barista, who works super hard this time of year, thank you for being so thoughtful.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 1:34 PM on December 8, 2011

Agree on the cash. When I was a barista, I had a customer who NEVER tipped. Until the holidays. Depending on if you were a barista, supervisor, or manager, you got a different amount of cash. I was a shift supervisor and always at the bar for his two-a-day habit. I got $250. Not saying you should shell out this much, but he put it in a nice card. I thought it was very sweet, and was really surprised to get such a generous tip.
posted by thatgirld at 1:41 PM on December 8, 2011

Gift certificates. Maybe just little ones to iTunes or something else generic. Large tips can be nice, but only if everyone you want to favor is working the same shift together, and you establish that they sort out tips per shift rather than per day (so you know it won't go into the pool for everyone else). Also, I was a barista for 4 years, and often around Xmas our tips would be partially or wholly donated to a charity. Personal, labelled thank you cards with a gift inside ensure that your gift goes directly to who you want it to (even if they aren't on shift at the time!)
posted by zinful at 1:42 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

Also, you seem concerned about the gender balance: it's not creepy if you give the gifts to multiple people.
posted by zinful at 1:44 PM on December 8, 2011

Not holiday specific, but I also found that overly-generous tips go a long way to showing your appreciation.

I always pay by CC and never put a tip on it (faster transactions that way, and I usually don't carry cash). But about every 2-3wks when flush from the ATM I'd drop a $20 in the tip jar to (more than) make up for my lack of tips, and that was definitely noticed.

At first they didn't notice that it was me, and so there was a mini-mystery going on about who the mega-tipper was. When they found it was me and I explained my reasoning, it was still very appreciated as being above & beyond for a customer.

So yeah, for holiday-specific gifting, individual envelopes for each and $20 is a good gift. Otherwise you can still surprise them occasionally via the tip jar but don't expect to be immediately recognized for it.
posted by jpeacock at 1:49 PM on December 8, 2011

Absolutely money. Buying gifts for people you don't know is impossible. There is literally no object, service, or gift card that you can get for a near-stranger and guarantee they won't hate it. By all means, put the money in a festive card or something, but please don't attempt to guess what they would want.
posted by decathecting at 1:57 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Alcohol! Something you can put in coffee. As a former professional barista, that was always my favorite Christmas tip from customers. Never lasted long.
posted by mannequito at 4:11 PM on December 8, 2011

I've worked in the service industry for 13 years and I'm going to nth the money in a card suggestion. There really isn't a more perfect gift. It would be best if you personalized the gifts by writing a little note inside each card and then putting the card in an envelope with the recipient's name on it. I don't think it's a good idea to put a big tip in the tip jar because that tip will only be split by the people working that shift so the other members of the staff will miss out. The service industry is a hard and soul sucking place sometimes, so it's awesome that you're doing this. People like you make the world a better place.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:14 PM on December 8, 2011

We had a customer who would bring us a case of wine, so we'd get a bottle each. He also included gloves which were much less exciting than the wine, but still sweet.
posted by whalebreath at 6:37 PM on December 8, 2011

My husband, the bartender, says "'Thank you' is polite, but cash is sincere."
posted by Lexica at 7:58 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Speaking as a former lo(oo)ng-term barista: cash and a smile. If you're in the States, doubly so.
posted by flippant at 2:40 AM on December 9, 2011

Response by poster: All - Thank you very much! I was considering the cash, but not being on the receiving end of the transaction, I didn't know if that was appropriate or not -- but now the right way to go is clear! I thank you for your advice.
posted by yoyoceramic at 7:55 AM on December 13, 2011

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