"To Insure Prompt Service" folks might slide an extra dollar across the bar, be it in return for a swift pint or a strong espresso. Naturally most folks in the service industry bring home a lot of their regular pay in singles, but it's not always money that makes the biggest impression on a barista.
One of my very favorite regulars at the first café I worked at was a soft-spoken research scientist named Barry who, in addition to gifting me with books once he was through with them, would routinely pass my coworkers Sugar in the Raw packets minus the sugar and with the addition of something funky, green, and smokable. (Since I was as innocent and pure as the driven snow, however, I always preferred being a card-carrying member of the Barry Library.)
Also—warning, obligatory nice-celebrity anecdote ahead—Benjamin Bratt once dropped 25 American bones into the tip jar on Christmas Day. That was pretty sweet.
While baristas always appreciate the extra green, there's something to be said about the little special extras that pass across the counter as well. We asked nine baristas about the best tips they ever received. (Surprisingly, none answered with, "Don't take any wooden nickels.") Read their tales in the slideshow above »
About the author: Erin Meister trains baristas and inspires coffee-driven people for Counter Culture Coffee. She's a confident barista, an audacious eater, and a smiling runner, but she remains a Nervous Cook.