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Keep the change: St. Paul coffee shop does away with tips

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Walk into Kopplin's coffee shop in St. Paul and you might notice something missing: a tip jar on the counter.

That, and fanciful, elaborate drinks (the kind that seem more at home in a malt shop) on the menu. MPR points out that Kopplin's is a straightforward kind of place.

It might be unsurprising, then, that they've done away with tip buckets, a common feature in coffee shops and take-out diners. But it's not an effort to streamline the business.

Owners Andrew and Amanda Kopplin told MPR they didn't want their employees relying on an unfair gratuity system and thought it was time for a pay raise instead. So in exchange for getting rid of tips, they increased their employees' wages by about $3.50 an hour.

It does come at a cost – the pay increase is funded by an across-the-board hike in prices, the Star Tribune explains. The paper reports the drinks are now 50 cents to $1 more expensive than similar ones sold by nearby competition.

But the Kopplins say it's well worth the expense.

"We believe that by creating a sustainable pricing model to support the quality of our products and staff we offer a positive (and delicious!) experience in a way that gratuity-driven service simply cannot," an announcement on their website says.

Staff and customers alike are reacting warmly.

One worker told MPR it cemented the shop as a "progressive, good place to work." Meanwhile, a customer said the price increase equals what they were paying in tips before, remarking "to know that (employees are) going to have a steady wage every day is a good feeling."

If customers still want to give some love, the shop put out a guest book people can sign in lieu of leaving a tip. A customer can also post a photo online with the #‎ThisIsKopplins‬ hashtag.

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