Butter Coffee?

I’m an old fuddy-duddy with respect to some things–like reasonable napkin size at restaurants, for example–butt I am willing to try something new now and then. And when I saw that this food truck offered “butter coffee,” which certainly sounds like a weird combination to me, I felt like I had to give it a taste.

Butter coffee is exactly what it sounds like: black, fresh roasted coffee blended with “grass fed unsalted butter” and “cold pressed organic MCT coconut oil.” The woman working in the truck noted that it is popular with the keto/low-carb diet crowd. And it tastes like what you would expect when butter is melted into coffee. It is buttery, for sure, but the combination of the butter and the coconut oil cuts against the bitterness and blackness of the coffee. It’s a pretty smooth drink that tastes somewhat like buttered popcorn, and I finished all of it.

It would not be a favorite of people who like sweets, for sure, but I could see getting it again.

A Tipping Point

Yesterday we went to a restaurant. When we sat down after finding our way to a table on our own (“Sit anywhere you like,” the hostess helpfully said) we were confronted by this increasingly familiar QR code item on the tabletop. I’ve been in restaurants before where you use the scanning feature of your cellphone to connect in order to call up the menu.

But this scanning feature was more extensive. You not only called up the menu, you placed your order yourself–hitting a “send to kitchen” button when you were done–and then proceeded to pay for the order, entering in our credit card information on the key buttons of our phone. But when I got to the “tipping point,” where I would put in a gratuity for our waitress, I was stumped.

What is the proper tip amount under these circumstances? By the time I was entering the tip amount, our waitress had literally done nothing; the whole process had been entirely self-serve. By tipping at the outset, there was no connection whatsoever between wait staff performance and the tip, to say nothing of the fact that many of the traditional wait staff duties–providing menus, offering helpful information about what was good, presenting the bill and receiving payment–were being done electronically. We didn’t really interact with our waitress until she brought the food.

I still gave the waitress a good tip, because I appreciate anybody who is working under these circumstances, but not as much of a tip as I would under normal circumstances, when the waitress would offer the full array of services and I wouldn’t have to do 80 percent of the work. Is there a new normal for tipping under these circumstances?