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Denver coffee shop has started paying employees $50k a year in order to give them a living wage

Coffee shop raises prices, says employees deserve a living wage
Posted at 4:55 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 19:49:47-04

DENVER -- Amethyst Coffee Company has increased prices 50% to pay their employees a living wage of $50,000 per year.

"We had to make a decision on how we are going to operate in the future, if there was going to be a future for us," Winn Deburlo, with Amethyst Coffee Company, told Denver7 Tuesday.

When Amethyst Coffee Company reopened three locations in May, they decided to make the change and stop accepting tips.

"We cannot keep relying on tips in order to pay people a living wage in cities that only get more and more expensive like Denver," Deburlo said.

Deburlo said at other service industry jobs, half his wages came from tips. Tips fluctuate month-to-month even while the quality of his work remained the same.

"Working for Amethyst has changed my life and I have worked in hospitality half my life now, and this is the most stable I have ever been," he said.

A latte is $6.75 compared to $3.95 at Starbucks.

Employees are making more than twice the minimum wage.

The coffee shop says most customers have not complained. They hope to have meaningful conversations with customers who feel the price is too high.

"The real issue is that property is expensive in Denver. Rent, commercial — especially residential — is way too expensive and people can’t afford it," Deburlo said.

The owner of Amethyst Coffee told Business Den they have just begun to break even.

Even with a no-tipping policy, some customers still want to show their appreciation.

"What is great about this is they get to do it in a more human way where it is not transaction. We have had people say, 'Well, I will tip you in compliments,'" Deburlo said.