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What is a Coffee Shop?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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Coffee shops are establishments where people gather to enjoy a cup of coffee. In most shops, there are a wide range of options with the type of coffee drinks offered, starting with plain coffee and moving through a selection of specialty coffee drinks that are often difficult to find at restaurants and other locations. Many shops of this type also offer a limited selection of food and other beverages, making them ideal for a quick snack or a light meal.

In some cases, the coffee shop is part of a large corporation. When this is the case, decisions about what types of coffee are sold are made at corporate level. The corporation will often have specific instructions as to the type of coffee maker that is used in the shop, as well as a particular brand of coffee roaster for the raw coffee beans that are purchased in bulk and resold to the local franchises. This uniform approach makes it possible for the same level of quality to be found at any store associated with the corporation.

Locally owned coffee shops usually have greater control over their product offerings. A local shop may choose to go with a "green" coffee option that is prepared fresh each day or perhaps some type of fair trade coffee. There is also the option of expanding into other offerings, such as various types of tea, designer sodas, and other products that make it possible for the local store to compete with the larger chains. A local shop is also more likely to offer a wider selection of freshly prepared foods, such as salads and sandwiches.

In recent years, both the chain style and the locally owned coffee shops have added other amenities to draw in customers. It is not unusual for one to offer guests free wireless Internet service, along with such perks as designer coffee mugs and other products that make excellent gifts. Most attempt to cultivate an atmosphere that entices the customer to return regularly, either by offering very quick service or providing comfortable and roomy seating that invites guests to settle in and enjoy their purchases in a peaceful atmosphere.

While the idea was once limited to metropolitan areas, shops of this type are now found in many smaller towns and even some rural areas. With a product line built around one of the most popular beverages in the world, the store stands an excellent chance of becoming a popular gathering spot, assuming the location is good and the prices are within reason.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By OeKc05 — On Nov 12, 2012

The organic coffee shop downtown often has musicians playing softly in the background. The sets are always laid back and acoustic.

It's a great place to go to listen to songwriters share their work. You will find more deep lyrics and unconventional sounds here than in night clubs.

They even have open mic night, when anyone can get up and sing. This is always interesting, because you can hear a variety of singers and songs while you enjoy your coffee.

By Kristee — On Nov 11, 2012

@Oceana – It would be hard to make a daily habit of drinking gourmet coffee drinks, but an occasional splurge now and then is special and something I look forward to. I get espresso from a coffee shop down the street once a month, and it is so rich and lovely.

Sometimes, I will make a date with friends and we will meet up for cinnamon lattes or pumpkin cappuccinos around the holidays. I also love white chocolate mocha, because that is something I would have a hard time replicating at home.

By Oceana — On Nov 11, 2012

Gourmet coffee shop prices are just ridiculous! I understand that they taste amazing, but who could afford to drink there every day? I just have to settle for making my own coffee drinks at home with milk, flavored creamer, and a coffee maker.

By StarJo — On Nov 10, 2012

I spent a lot of time in coffee shops in college. These were where all the artsy, super-literate types hung out, and I was hoping to find friends there.

I was an art major, and I enjoyed intelligent conversation. However, what I found there were mostly people trying to outdo each other with their knowledgeable opinions, talking about artists and writers so elite that no one had really heard much about them, or I hadn't, at least.

I didn't drink coffee, so all I ever ordered off the coffee shop menus was hot cocoa. I realized that this didn't make me look very sophisticated, but I couldn't stand the bitter taste of coffee!

By backdraft — On May 17, 2012

I feel like I have spent most of my adult life in a coffee shop. I have worked in a bunch of them and they are where I spend most of my free time. The coffee shop, the library and the laundromat are pretty much the only three places that I go.

But who wants to go anywhere else? There are amazing coffee shops populated by amazing people all over this city. And unlike the bars they are not full of incoherent ramblers who are either trying to fight you or hit on you.

By truman12 — On May 16, 2012

Anyone who wants to open a coffee shop but wants the comfort of an established business should look into one of the many coffee shop franchises that are available. There are more than you would think and many beyond Starbucks.

By tigers88 — On May 15, 2012

A coffee shop is pretty loosely defined these days. There is one around the corner from me that serves pretty good coffee and coffee drinks but also serves food, beer, ice cream and has office space that they rent out. Going in it seems like coffee makes up the least of their business.

Where they excel though is that they accomplish what all coffee shops hope to, which is to be a nice place to hang out. There is really no need for coffee shops, most people have coffee makers at home. But they want to go to a place that has environment. All the best coffee shops are nice places to hang out.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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