First of all, congrats on getting yourself a date. Second of all, great news for my lazy peeps — a coffee date doesn’t require any real planning. Remember, one of the beauties of coffee date is the minimum investment in terms of money, time, and effort. However, if you want to make it special, there are a few aspects to pay attention to. But before we get into that, let’s take a look at what does it mean to meet over coffee and what are the pros and cons.

All You Need to Know about Coffee Date

The Ultimate Guide to Coffee Date: Why It’s Awesome and Tips on How You Can Make It Even Better

  1. Definition
  2. Advantages
  3. Disadvantages
  4. Etiquette
  5. Location
  6. Time
  7. Seating
  8. Conversation
  9. Flirting
  10. Outfits
  11. Virtual dating

Definition: what is a coffee date?

A coffee date is a social meeting where two individuals who might be interested in a romantic relationship meet over a cup of coffee. Because of its casual and stress-free nature, it makes an excellent first date.

Despite its name, you can replace coffee with any other drinks you prefer. For example, it could be a boba tea date or even a juice date. However, I feel that none of these terms are as catchy and as sticky as the term coffee date. So we’ll be using coffee date as a blanket term for all these other beverages.

So what’s so great about it?

Pro’s: advantages of coffee date — reasons why this is a great date idea

Here are some reasons why you should consider asking your date out for coffee.

  1. It’s casual and stress-free. Unlike a picnic date that requires you to prepare food and drinks and a picnic blanket, there isn’t really any preparation for a coffee date. You don’t have to make a reservation and you don’t have to prepare your own food. While you should still wear something nice, there’s no need to dress up, wear jewelry, or wear makeup. It’s like meeting up a friend but with the expectation that it might blossom into a romantic relationship.
  2. Your safety is ensured. The cafe staff is nearby and you’re surrounded by other patrons. If the date turns sour, you know where to get help. In fact, because you’re in public, your date is less likely to go seriously wrong. That means you can observe and understand your date in a safe environment. The sense of security also extends to your date, allowing them to feel more at ease which encourages them to enjoy themself better.
  3. Coffee is inexpensive. As long as you avoid high-end coffee chains, grabbing coffee is one of the more inexpensive date ideas. Even at an upscale coffee shop, you are unlikely to spend more than $20 on a handcrafted cup of coffee (by the way, that price tag is outrageous). So if everything goes well and you want to stay for a second or third cup of coffee, you can do so without hurting your wallet. Another implication is when your date buys you coffee, you wouldn’t feel like you’re taking advantage of them.
  4. You are not getting drunk. Coffee heightens your senses and makes you more aware of your surroundings. Your memory and focus improve when you consume coffee. Unlike alcohol, you won’t get drunk on coffee. There are many reasons why getting tipsy on a first date is a terrible idea. Among the reasons are you’re not being your normal self, you might overshare, and worst of all — things might get sexual prematurely.
  5. You can easily cut short or prolong the date. It’s flexible. If the date isn’t going the direction you’re expecting you can always make up some excuse and leave. On the other hand, if your date is exactly how you want it to be and more, you can stay longer or go somewhere else with your date.
  6. They work with your schedule. A coffee date can be a long and as short as you want it to be. The ideal times for a coffee date are during weekends in the morning or afternoon – because you can stretch the date afterward by inviting your match for lunch or dinner. However, the best thing about the coffee date is that it can happen whenever both of you are free. That could be during lunchtime or a quick 30 minutes the two of you manage to squeeze out during a weekday morning before heading to work.
  7. You get to have meaningful conversations and understand each other better. The great thing (and also the bad thing, more on that in the Cons section below) is that you’re seated across from each other at a small table with nothing to do besides sipping coffee and just talk to each other.
  8. You can learn so much from a coffee date. You won’t learn everything there is to them from just one date, whether it’s a coffee date or not. But compared to, say a movie date, you get to observe their behavior. Do they raise any red flags? For example, how do they treat the cafe staff? Do they act like a million dollars? Are they respectful and friendly? What kind of drinks do they prefer? Are they more of a Frappuccino person or do they prefer their coffee to be bold and black? Perhaps they aren’t a coffee person at all, they are just really interested to meet you, and that says a lot about their interest level.

Read also: Ideas for a Double Date

Cons: disadvantages of coffee date — areas where it doesn’t work so well

Meeting for coffee is a terrific first date but it isn’t without its own shortcomings. Below are some reasons why it sucks and solutions to make it better.

  1. It’s not the most romantic date idea. A cafe or coffee shop provides an ideal venue for you to talk to your date. But you don’t normally associate these places with romance. I mean, do you find your local Starbucks romantic? I don’t. Solution: find a cozy coffee shop with a romantic atmosphere. Ideally, the music should be relaxing but not too loud. More tips on finding the best venue here.
  2. You’re forced to talk to each other, almost continuously. People say silence is golden. But when there are the two of you at the tiny table, seconds of silence feel like decades. Couples who have been together for a long time get away by reading and playing their phones but when you’re on the first date, everything other than paying attention to your date is a taboo. Solution: accept that silence is a natural part of a conversation. Be prepared before the date, ask open-ended questions, talk about your date’s interests, talk about yourself but in moderation.
  3. Coffee can have some unpleasant side effects. While it’s true that coffee doesn’t get you drunk, it isn’t without its own side effects. For instance, too much coffee can make you feel jittery. Some people also get nervous from drinking coffee. When you’re jittery and nervous, it might give off the wrong impression to your date. Coffee can also cause frequent urination, although a toilet break can provide some breathing room for each other. Last but not least, it gives you coffee breath. Solution: know your limit. Switch to a different beverage after a cup of coffee or order something other than coffee to drink in the first place. Get water for you and your date to stay hydrated and reduce coffee breath problem.
  4. Not everybody is a coffee person. You might be making assumptions that your date drinks coffee. Coffee is a very popular beverage but not everyone enjoys it. Solution: find out if they drink coffee before you ask them out. Go for tea or a cafe that offers beverages other than coffee if they don’t enjoy coffee.
  5. It doesn’t feel like a real date. Does your date even know that it’s a date? It’s fine if the two of you are new to each other but if you are friends, meeting over coffee may feel like a one-on-one hangout instead of a date. Solution: make it known that the meeting is a date. If you failed to mention it when you ask them out, try your best to get personal and subtly hint at the nature of the meeting when you’re at the cafe.

How to behave: coffee {date} etiquette

Because coffee is such a casual thing to do, there aren’t really any hard etiquette rules to follow. Below is some common courtesy you should show your date.

  • Don’t be late. Time is the most precious commodity. Every one of us gets the same limited amount of the time each day. By agreeing to meet with you, your date is sharing a piece of their life with you. So make sure you respect their time by showing up when you’re supposed to. Speaking of respecting each other…
  • Pay attention to your date. Attention to each other is crucial whether you’re on your first date or your 1000th date. Listen and contribute to the conversation. Avoid checking your watch and your phone every minute or worst — keep texting someone else when you’re on a date.

Selecting a venue. Where to grab coffee?

While you can grab coffee virtually anywhere (which includes having coffee literally virtually – as in via a video call), you should avoid locations like your own house or a busy restaurant. Meeting someone new at your house for a first date feels weird and may be dangerous. Restaurants tend to be noisy and make you smell like grease. They aren’t the best place to hold a conversation.

A Starbucks works just fine for this purpose if not a little boring. You’ve been to a Starbucks. You know they aren’t the most romantic place on earth. An ideal meeting place would be an indie boutique coffee shop that is cozy and has great music.

Decide a meeting time. When to meet, how long should it last?

You can do it whenever your schedules open up. But some meeting times are better than the others. For instance, you won’t be able to extend the date if it happens during lunchtime on a workday; you’re prone to insomnia if you meet for coffee in the evening.

The best time for a coffee date is weekend mornings.

Do it after breakfast or have breakfast together. Coffee and morning go hand in hand. Another advantage of doing it in the morning is you can stretch the date if it goes well. “Oh it’s almost noon, do you want to grab lunch?” It’s a natural progression. Perhaps there’s a new movie both of you are interested in watching. Watching a movie after having lunch together sounds like a great way to spend a weekend afternoon with a love interest.

How long should a coffee date be? Well, it is as long as you want it to be. It ranges from minutes to hours. For the first date, I would suggest 30 minutes to an hour.

Picking table, choosing seats

Avoid bar tables. It doesn’t matter if the bar table is facing a window that offers a great view. Why? Because you’re forced to sit side-by-side. This kind of seating arrangement makes it weird to have a proper conversation. It’s like you’re talking to the air or to your own reflection in the window 2 feet in front of you. Pick a table where you don’t have to sit side-by-side. You can either sit across from each other or sit diagonally. Sitting opposite each other gives you a good look at your date, it also encourages eye contact but it can feel too interview-like. Sit diagonally instead. Why? First, it takes off some pressure by not having to look at each other throughout the date. Second, eye contact is as simple as turning your head slightly to the left or to the right. Third, sitting diagonally gives you the option to let your bodies get closer or move away — so if you decide to touch knees or brush against your date’s arm (not in a creepy way), you can.

If the date happens on a crisp spring morning, you and your date might find it pleasant to sit outside. Other times when the days are too cold or too hot, you will be more comfortable staying inside.

What to talk about? Conversation tips and suggested topics

Start by introducing yourselves. Followed by pleasantries. Let the conversation carries you. The more you try to force it the more it feels like a job interview. Nobody likes to feel that way on a date. As you talk, find out if there is anything common between you two and try to explore that particular area where you intersect. That could be anything from school to work or where they live or even their love for a particular app. Anyway, here are a few casual conversation topics to break the ice and to keep the conversation going.

  • How was your week? This may sound lame in a dating article but sometimes real-life conversation topics are boring; it’s the people who make them interesting. Ask them how was their week, what did they do, etc. Ask and share. What about you? What did you do? Did you learn a new yoga pose? Share with your date.
  • How do you spend your time? You can find out a lot about a person from the answer to this question. Observe their body language as they reply. If they spend a dispropriate amount of time working, do they seem enthusiastic about it?
  • How do you spend your free time? Many of us work because we have to. But what happens when there’s free time? What does your date do when they’re free? This is a great opportunity to find out if you share any common interests. A common interest is an excellent conversation topic.
  • Talk about yourself. Don’t forget to talk about yourself! Dating and conversation are a two-way street. While you seek to understand your date, your date would also be interested to find out more about you. You can talk about yourself or any topics that interest you.
  • Talk about coffee. There are many coffee lovers out there! Maybe your date is one of them. If you’re passionate about coffee and your date is a coffee aficionado, it could mean the start of a caffeine-fueled romance.

How to flirt properly in a cafe: flirting tips

When the date is going in the right direction, how can you spice things up? Granted, you might be sitting in a Starbucks. How can you flirt with your date surrounding by dozens of other customers and cafe staff? Below are some tips to help you out with your coffee flirting needs.

The ground rules for flirting are don’t be creepy and don’t overdo anything.

  • Smile strategically. Imagine you’re dating someone. And they’re smiling non-stop. Doesn’t that feel kind of creepy? You know who never stops smiling? Pennywise. So avoid smiling like a maniac. The opposite, though, is just as bad. Don’t be all stoic and cold, show some enthusiasm by smiling from time to time when it feels right. And when you do that, remember to…
  • Make eye contact. People say the eyes are the windows to one’s soul. So look your date in eyes from time to time. Not all the time, staring into someone’s eyes for longer than 10 seconds feel creepy no matter what the business article you’ve read says.
  • Tease your date. I’m not a believer in negging (offering negative feedback). I think in some cases it does work, but no one should be on the giving or receiving end negging. So tease your date, but do so in a positive way.
  • Offer genuine praise. A little flattery goes a long way whether you’re on a date or at a business networking event. The trick is, the praise has to be genuine. It has to come naturally as a response to a certain impressive aspect of your date. There’s no point faking it.
  • Nobody is hugging it out or caressing anyone intensively in the cafe. But touching is a crucial part of flirting. If your date is going exceptionally well and you guys are hitting it off, It may be a good idea to sprinkle a little physical contact in your interaction. Start small and remain small. For example, let your knees touch for a second, brush your date’s arm. Come up with an excuse like want to check out their ring or bracelet to hold their hand for a few seconds. Do not overdo it — especially when you’re a guy. It’s like adding salt to your food, the right amount elevates the taste, but adding too much and your food is ruined. The same applies to touching as a flirting strategy on your first date. Touching your date once too many makes you a creep.

What to Wear: Coffee-Date Outfit Ideas

Coffee Date = Casual. So wear something casual and comfortable but make sure that you look like you put some effort into it. Don’t overdress either! No tuxedo, no gown, no ties, no suicide heels. Hoodies and t-shirts and shorts are fair game. But if you want to make it more special, here are some coffee outfit ideas that will work well for a casual date at the cafe.

Outfit Ideas for Women

  1. Sundress + a pair of flats. The perfect outfit for spring, summer, and fall. A fitting sundress instills self-confidence in you and makes you look irresistible. Throw on a pair of flats for extra comfort.
  2. Fit & Flare dress + heels. The magical dress type that works for all body types including curvy women. A pair of kitten heels to boost your posture and self-esteem without sacrificing comfort.
  3. Button-down shirt, jeans + sneakers or loafers. Casual with a little edge. Go with a top that is soft and comfortable.
  4. Bodysuit + high-waist jeggings + ankle boots or a comfortable pair of sneakers. The bodysuit has a slimming effect and visually flattens the extra fat around your waist. High-waist jeggings elongate your legs, making them look longer and slender.

Outfit Ideas For Men

  1. White / navy blue button-down shirt and khaki pants – throw on a jacket or hoodie in spring or fall. Complete this outfit with a sports watch and a pair of sneakers.
  2. White / pink / blue button-down shirt and jeans – add on a sports jacket if you live in a more dressy neighborhood. Wear something on your hand — ring or bracelet or watch for potential conversation topics. Avoid formal-looking shoes.
  3. For a real casual look, wear a plaid button-down shirt with a solid colored t-shirt underneath. Leave the top 1-2 buttons undone. Shorts are OK especially when the weather is great and you guys are sitting outdoor.

Virtual Coffee Date: Alternative During Pandemics

The first draft of this article was written during the Covid-19 pandemic. During a pandemic, it’s not safe to meet in areas where the risk of infection is high. To work around this problem, dating has turned virtual. A virtual coffee date is when two people meet virtually for coffee from two different locations. This usually happens in the form of a video call through a smartphone or a webcam.

Why not just do a video call? For one, a phone call is not a date. It lacks the ritualistic aspect and it also doesn’t have a natural time limit. Meeting virtually for coffee gives you a sense of an actual date. The time you spend drinking a cup of coffee is the subtle time limit for this date. When the time is up, you get a good excuse to say bye if your date isn’t what you expect. Another advantage this has over a coffee-less phone call is that you don’t have to talk non-stop. You can sip some coffee when you think of what to talk about next.

Couples who are in a long-distance relationship will find this kind of date a welcoming change to their routine video call. It’s a cute and fun thing to do with your partner.

A virtual date will never replace a date in real life but it’s a pretty good compromise if you can’t meet in person, for one reason or another.

Coffee as a Date: Yay or Nay?

Meeting over a cup of coffee is a great way to get to know someone new. It’s casual, stress-free, and safe. It excels as a first date because it’s inexpensive and flexible. Not without any shortcomings but you can overcome its weaknesses if you put a little effort into it. Now that you know the ins and outs of the coffee date, do you think it would work for you and your date?

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