Former Starbucks Worker Slams ‘Pay It Forward’ Lines: ‘Tip Your Baristas!’

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

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

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

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

She explained that when a person gets to the window, they politely say they do not want to pay for the person behind them. Next, they use the drink money and give it to the barista as a tip.

“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.

Newsweek reached out to @miserablehotgirl for comment.

Newsweek has published several articles regarding Starbucks including one on a barista who revealed the “worst order” before 6 a.m., another about Starbucks employees who complain about “innocent” orders and a story about a video of a Starbucks worker’s “absolute worst day.”

Former Starbucks employee slams pay it forward
Above, a Starbucks employee handing a customer a cup in the drive thru. Published to TikTok, a former Starbucks employee slams pay it forward lines.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

How much does a barista make in tips?

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

TikTok user reactions

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

One wrote, “As a Starbucks employee, THIS IS WHAT WE WOULD LOVE.”

Another barista added, “Please don’t feel obligated to pay it forward, ESPECIALLY if their order is more expensive. I don’t think less of you, the universe doesn’t feel less of you, you’re good.”

A user exclaimed, “YES I promise we need the money more than somebody who’s already planned to spend money on their Starbucks.”

One account commented, “YES that’s what my dad has said for years!!! Everyone in line already has money for their coffee. TIP YOUR BARISTAS!!!!”

“Trust me the drive through workers hate them as much as the customers. It makes things more difficult to keep track of them,” another admitted.

“As a barista, I HATE pay it forward lines. There’s a point where it’s kinda a hassle and people get upset cuz they don’t get their stars,” one admitted, referring to Starbucks’ customer rewards program.

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

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 get the point.”

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