Former Starbucks worker slams ‘Pay It Forward’ lines: ‘Tip Your Baristas!’

A former Starbucks employee slammed “pay it forward” lines in a video that went viral on social media.

In a popular post on TikTok, a woman with the username @miserablehotgirl shared her “hack” for breaking the pay-it-forward lines. The video has over 400,000 likes and 2.5 million views.

The “pay it forward” lines are usually done in a drive-thru, where someone pays for the person behind them and the trend continues.

“I know TikTok loves their Starbucks hacks, so here’s a hack if you get caught in any of those stupid pay-it-forward lines,” the TikToker began.

She explained that when a person comes to the window, they politely say they don’t want to pay for the person behind them. Next, they use the drink money and tip the barista.

“That way the pay-it-forward line is broken, the barista is happy they have their tip and you have a free drink, and your barista will probably like you a little bit more,” she concluded the video.

news week @miserablehotgirl asked for a comment.

news week has published several articles about Starbucks, including one about a barista revealing the “worst order” before 6 a.m., another about Starbucks employees complaining about “innocent” orders, and a story about a video of the “absolutely Worst Day” by a Starbucks employee.

Former Starbucks employee slams pay-forward
Above, a Starbucks employee handing a mug to a customer in a drive-thru. Posted on TikTok, a former Starbucks employee bangs pay-it-forward lines.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

How Much Tip Does a Barista Earn?

Starbucks has around 138,000 employees in the company, but how much do baristas tip? According to, the standard is around $1 an hour. However, 50 to 90 percent of customers tip above average. The tip is also split between the number of employees working that shift.

TikTok user reactions

“I’ve only been in one and had no idea it was a thing. I said ‘thank you!’ and left,” spilled one TikTok user.

One wrote, “As Starbucks employees, we would love that.”

Another barista added: “Please don’t feel obligated to prepay, ESPECIALLY if your order is more expensive. I don’t think less of you, the universe doesn’t feel less of you, you are good.”

One user exclaimed, “YES, I promise we need the money more than someone already planning on spending money on their Starbucks.”

One account commented: “YES my dad has been saying that for years!!! Everyone in line already has money for their coffee. TIP YOUR BARISTAS!!!”

“Believe me, the drive-through workers hate them as much as the customers. It makes it harder to keep track of,” admitted another.

“As a barista, I hate paying it up front. There’s a point where it’s pretty tedious and people get upset because they’re not getting their stars,” admitted one, referring to Starbucks’ customer rewards program.

“[Pay it forward] is great, but it’s a lot of pressure, especially if you’re on a budget. When mine is $5 and hers is $20… it feels unfair,” wrote another.

One user questioned the trend: “The only one who gets a free drink is the person who breaks it anyway, so I really don’t see what the point is.” Former Starbucks worker slams ‘Pay It Forward’ lines: ‘Tip Your Baristas!’

Rick Schindler

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