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How things work | Coffee Shop Edition

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

3 things you should know!

Welcome to “How things work”! The series that explains how different things work here in Vancouver; from how to act during an interview or how much you should tip at a restaurant to how you should behave in certain social situations. Whatever it is, we got you covered 😉

Let’s get started! You might be wondering if it’s really necessary for us to talk about this, like… is it vital for us to explain to you the expected behaviour customers should have when going to a coffee shop? Yes, yes, it is.

Every city in the world has its own personality, its own way to be. And, of course, if you live long enough in only one place, your personality will start to adapt to what you are experiencing. You will be shaped by the city in which you live, the same way that the city will be shaped by you.

Well, in the case of Vancouver, the city’s personality is very vibrant! It’s a place for people who are in love with nature, have a healthy lifestyle and like to dress well. (We made a different article explaining more about this). But another trait that Vancouver’s personality has is its love for supporting local businesses! It’s amazing!

Yes, there are big multinational companies such as Starbucks, Wendy’s, H&M…etc. And we love them too! But the reality is that Vancouverites support their local businesses, especially coffee places!

3 Things you should know about coffee shops in Vancouver:

There is a common “Clean after yourself” culture: Of course, you might think this is an obvious thing but it is actually not. Not in every place, country or culture it is common for clients to clean their own tables once they finish their meal. However, in Vancouver, it is just like that, much so that most coffee places will actually have a dish tray for clients to place their dishes once they’re done. Trust us, the store personnel will thank you a lot for complying with these expectations ☺️

So remember, when going to a local coffee shop in Vancouver, always look for the “dish tray signs” or the dish tray itself. If it seems like you are not in the kind of place where you are supposed to clear your own dishes, take a look around to be sure! Just play it safe and observe other customers, see what they do with their tables once they are done, and follow suit.

They rely a lot on their customers to do some other stuff too: Besides cleaning your table after you are done, local shops usually rely on their customers to help them with some other small habits, some simple ones that help to keep the place nice and tidy ☺️

Take as an example what Pallet Coffee at Kingsway, East Vancouver, is doing to keep track of which table has been sanitized. They ask their clients to please indicate to the staff if they are done using a table by simply flipping a laminated sign. This helps them know if they still need to clean a specific table or if everything is ready for the next customers.

Another example of this, and one that is in fact quite common, is how stores expect their customers to keep their umbrellas in an umbrella bin or rack that is usually right beside the door as soon as you walk into any place. Once you have been living here for a while, you start looking for this rack almost automatically on rainy days.

Tipping is expected: Tipping is one of those things that varies from culture to culture and can sometimes be a delicate thing. However, in this city, people working in the food industry and retail, in general, are counting on your tips to have a more substantial income! It is so that when you are looking for customer service jobs in Vancouver, it is common to read “Salary: minimum + tips” as part of the job posting.

So no, even if it is not mandatory, it is always well received, especially because you can be sure that the tips go entirely to the staff.

How much should you tip? 15% is the standard for giving tips here in Vancouver. Although the tipping range usually goes from 10% to 18% or even 20% in some places. So don’t be surprised when you are paying by card, and they hand you a machine that asks you to select how much of a tip you want to give.

Did you find this information helpful? Hit us up with any ideas or questions you would like us to answer for our next “How things work” article 😉 We are always eager to hear what you want to say. Reach out to us on social media, leave a comment or email us at

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