Some readers are going to freak when they read the headline on this edition of the newsletter. They already question current tipping customs in restaurants and bars. Now, they’re having to confront the idea of tipping at counter-service restaurants – cafés, sandwich shops, smoothie bars and other places where you pick up your own food.

Tip jars used to be a thing at coffee spots and other counter-service restaurants. Now, you might be presented with the option to tip if you pay electronically with your debit or credit card. New York Times travel writer Seth Kugel recently laid out the arguments for and against tipping at counter-service restaurants. He usually tips when buying a coffee and found many others who do likewise. His conclusion is that it’s a judgement call and fine if you want to opt out.

Tipping is an often-covered topic in this newsletter because it generates such passionate responses from readers. Some feel put upon by the payment terminals in restaurants that make 20 or even 25 per cent tips an option, and they’re uneasy about paying this percentage on the after-tax amount of their bill. Being asked to tip at counter-service restaurants is just going to provoke these people even more.

But we can’t get around the fact that tipping is becoming a bigger factor in pricing out the cost of eating and drinking out of the home. Figure out a strategy for managing this and go with it. When paying a restaurant bill, my wife and I always have a discussion to see what tip is warranted. I’m still evolving on counter-service tips.

The Globe and Mail, October 3, 2019