A coffeehouse, coffee shop, or café (sometimes spelled cafe) is an establishment which primarily serves hot coffee, related coffee beverages (e.g., café latte, cappuccino, espresso), tea, and other hot beverages.
Some coffeehouses also serve cold beverages such as iced coffee and iced tea. Many cafés also serve some type of food, such as light snacks, muffins, or pastries. Coffeehouses range from owner-operated small businesses to large multinational corporations.
In continental Europe, cafés often serve alcoholic beverages and light food, but elsewhere the term “café” may also refer to a tea room, “greasy spoon” (a small and inexpensive restaurant,) transport café, or other casual eating and drinking place. A coffeehouse may share some of the same characteristics of a bar or restaurant, but it is different from a cafeteria. Many coffee houses in the Middle East and in West Asian immigrant districts in the Western world offer shisha (nargile in Greek and Turkish), flavored tobacco smoked through a hookah. Espresso bars are a type of coffeehouse that specializes in serving espresso and espresso-based drinks.
From a cultural standpoint, coffeehouses largely serve as centers of social interaction: the coffeehouse provides patrons with a place to congregate, talk, read, write, entertain one another, or pass the time, whether individually or in small groups. Since the development of Wi-Fi, coffeehouses with this capability have also become places for patrons to access the Internet on their laptops and tablet computers. A coffeehouse can serve as an informal club for its regular members. As early as the 1950s Beatnik era and the 1960s folk music scene, coffeehouses have hosted singer-songwriter performances, typically in the evening.
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