|Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.|
For example, in DC, my current home, the average barista makes $23,350/year, while in my home state of TN, the average is $17,030. Does that extra $6,300 in pay per year translate into better employees and better coffee drinks?
Perhaps. But it could also just be a reflection of the fact that the Northeast is richer than the South in general, and so everyone, on average, gets paid more in the Northeast than in the South - regardless of their particular job.
However, as everyone knows (or should know), good coffee is made by A PARTICULAR barista - if you are local to an area, you know which coffee shop to go to and, at that coffee shop, which barista you want to make your coffee. But, it has been my experience that in both Italy and the Northeastern US, there seems to be a smaller variation in the quality of coffee than there is in the South - which definitely counts for something!