tim hortons tip

This is why you're expected to tip at independent Toronto cafes but not Tim Hortons

Tipping in Toronto has become a hot button issue with inflation impacting everyone's lives, as people have been more reluctant lately to add that extra 20 per cent on top of their bill when they don't explicitly need to.

As such, many people may be turning more to chain cafes for their morning joe instead of indie coffee shops, as you might not be expected to tip at places like a Tim Hortons or Starbucks.

When it comes to what artificial intelligence has to say on the subject, it's a pretty common sense answer when you feed the question "is it ok not to tip at Tim Hortons?" into ChatGPT.

Should you tip at Tim Hortons?

"Tipping at fast food chains like Tim Hortons is not expected or required," it replies.

"However, if you received exceptional service or if you want to show appreciation for the work of the employees, you can choose to leave a small tip. It's ultimately up to your discretion and the cultural norms of the country you are in."

Should you tip at an indpendent coffee shop?

However, when asked if you should tip when buying something at an independent coffee shop, the AI app seemed to confirm that this would be more expected, saying "it can be a nice gesture."

"In many countries, tipping in cafes and coffee shops is more common and is typically done when ordering at the counter," it says.

Of course, artificial intelligence can only get us so far on this subject, so I asked a real life human coffee shop owner in Toronto what he thinks...and his answer may surprise you, especially when it comes to the chains.

Why you should tip at Tim Hortons

"I think people should tip at Tim Hortons, the staff there are always overworked and run off their feet. At my cafe tipping is much appreciated but never expected. I pay my staff well and always have but their tips are paid out on the opposite weeks to their paycheck and ensures some cash flow weekly," Merseyside owner Todd Delaney tells blogTO.

"What I don't think people understand is that when you're tipping at my shop you're not just tipping the barista. You're tipping the person that baked your pastries that morning, made your sandwich or soup from scratch, the person who mops the floor and washes the dishes. It's not just about someone pouring a coffee into a cup and being tipped 20 per cent."

He also thinks tipping should have been higher than it was during lockdowns.

"People in customer service roles were putting themselves at risk and didn’t have the option of working from home," says Delaney.

"Tipping well during this time would have shown an understanding and appreciation for this. Some people understood but some people didn't think about it unfortunately."

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns


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