Coffee Date Etiquette: Everything You Need To Know About Coffee Dates

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Coffee Date Etiquette

Coffee dates are quite popular for first dates or when you don’t know a person well. Why? They are casual, and the environment allows two people to get to know each other.

The best thing about coffee dates is that, unlike movies or candlelit dinners, you don’t have to waste two hours when you realize the date sucks. You can be done in 10 minutes or less and be out of there.

But, there are many behind-the-scenes coffee date etiquettes that you might not know. So, grab a coffee as we share everything you need to know about coffee dates.

Is a coffee date a suitable first date?

Here are reasons why a first date in the local coffee shop might be a good idea.

It is inexpensive

Who wants to spend a lot of money on someone they barely know? No one wants to write a fat check on a casual first meet-up.

Coffee dates are not expensive. You can’t spend more than $20 on coffee at high-end coffee shops.

A conducive environment to engage in a conversation

A first date is all about getting to know someone better. Usually, on a first date, you’ve either met them online, through a friend, at a work conference, etc. 

So, you want to get as much information about them as possible.

Coffee shops provide a relaxed environment, and there’s nothing else to do except talk and sip a hot drink.

Less pressure

Young couple on a date in a coffee shop
Young couple on a date in a coffee shop.

Unfortunately, terrible dates are a normal part of the dating process. You might feel unsafe, uncomfortable, maybe the other person is stinking, the conversation could be dry, etc. Coffee doesn’t take too long to consume. 

Heck! You might even leave the coffee half-finished if the date is that bad.

There’s no expectation on how long it should take to consume a coffee, unlike a dinner date where you can’t escape halfway through the starters.

Casual date

A coffee date is an unofficial meeting. You don’t need to wear heels or a suit and tie. You don’t need to have the perfect make-up. So, it’s totally okay to dress casually. 

It can be quick or as long as you want it to be

On a coffee date, both of you are sitting at a small table with a super hot drink and having a conversation. Nothing else. There are no set activities. There are no appointments. You don’t wait an hour to get a table or get soup and bread as starters. 

If your date is boring and weird, you can bail out as fast as you want. If you are getting along nicely, you can make it as long as you want; maybe ask for a refill or a meal. The choice is yours.

The meeting is in a public atmosphere

Their phone is on a table so they won't get distracted while out on a date.
Man and woman in a serious conversation during a date.

It’s always good to do first dates in a public place, especially if you’ve never met that person. The main reason for that is safety reasons. If, for instance, you’re meeting someone from Tinder, you don’t know them. They could be a serial killer, or a predator could catfish you. Who knows!

Coffee shops are public and are a safe place for a first meet-up. Furthermore, there are staff and other people nearby to assist if anything goes wrong.

It can work with your schedule

Coffee shops are open from the morning until late. You can go in the morning before work, during lunch, or after work. So, both of you can schedule the date at a time convenient for you.

Drawbacks to a coffee date

A coffee date is a great date and has become a preferred method for first dates. We can understand why: it’s inexpensive, super casual, safe, low-commitment, etc. 

Hence, most people embrace them. 

But it has its drawbacks. The following are some reasons why it might suck.

  • Coffee shops are not romantic venues. Honestly, some shops have poor lighting, and others are noisy because they are busy.
  • It can feel like an interview. It’s just the two of you and two cups of coffee (assuming your date likes coffee). You’re forced to keep talking and continuously asking and answering questions to “get to know each other.”
  • Your date could opt to bail on you.
  • Not everyone loves coffee. Coffee is loved by many, but some people don’t enjoy it.
  • Standing in line with someone you barely know as you wait to get served could be awkward.

What to wear to a coffee date: dos and don’ts

Woman smiling while talking to a man in a café
Woman smiling while talking to a man in a café.

What do you wear to a coffee date? Good question. Wear a smart casual outfit. For men, jeans with a polo or a casual shirt with a good pair of sneakers can be a good option.

For ladies, a sundress with flat shoes is a good idea for summer vibes or spring. Also, high-waisted jeans plus a bodysuit with some sneakers or ankle boots could be a great fit for a coffee date.

The bottom line is to wear something that makes you feel confident and comfortable, but in a way that makes your date take you seriously.

However, it’s easy to get so caught up in the idea of casual outfits that you might show up on the date looking like a slob. Avoid wearing outfits that make you seem like you haven’t put in any effort. Casual doesn’t mean “wear whatever you want.”

  • Don’t overdress—avoid tuxedos, super-high heels, etc.
  • If wearing a t-shirt, avoid those with slogans. No one is going to take you seriously if you show up with a t-shirt that’s written “haters gonna hate,” or “I don’t date vegans,” or worst of all, “I pee in pools.”
  • Avoid outfits with busy prints.

Super tip: Wear how you would go for coffee with your friend but with an extra spice up!

Coffee date etiquettes and tips

So, you’ve asked someone out on a coffee date (or you’ve been asked and said yes), and you have a few questions, such as:

  • Should you know the exact location or wait for them to find the coffee shop together?
  • Should you show up early or fashionably late?
  • Should you get your coffee first or wait for them to show up and stand in the line together?
  • Should you make it clear it’s a date ahead of time?

For most people, dates can be nerve-wracking; you are not sure about what to do or how to behave. In this section, you’ll learn some tips you need to know all about coffee date etiquette to help you become more confident and ready for your coffee date.

Coffee date etiquettes and tips

Tell them it’s a date ahead of time

Coffee is casual. You can grab a coffee with anyone—a friend, client, colleague, family member, etc. It can be pretty straightforward if you’re meeting the person for the first time. 

However, if you’re asking someone you have a history of being platonic with or in your social circle, make it abundantly clear that it’s a date.

Here is how you get rid of any doubt and uncertainties to avoid confusion:

  • Pick a unique coffee spot. The fewer people working on laptops, the better.
  • Be a bit flirtatious and hint that it’s more than just grabbing coffee together.

Pick a convenient location

This is an important step. You want to pick a spot that is easy for both of you to access. If you don’t mind traveling further, you could pick a location closer to them. Pick the most accessible spot for them.

Additionally, pick a place that is not too busy and noisy. Starbucks? No, thank you.

The first date aims to talk and get to know each other. You can even check out the location before the date to ensure that it’s safe, accessible, has good lighting, and has great coffee. 

Be punctual

Being on time means more than you think. It’s a sign of respect; you respect another person’s time as much as you respect your own. It also reflects maturity. You want to avoid making a bad impression, especially on the first date.

On top of that, arriving on time could help ease your nerves and calm you down if you feel anxious. It could also help you secure a better seat—hopefully, a spot with a great view. 

Yes, things happen, but if you’re running a few minutes late, call or text to apologize in advance. 

Put your phone away

If you’re on your phone while on a date, it could signify that you’re not interested in the person you’re with. Your phone should be out of sight- deep in your pocket, in a purse, or in the car. Not at the side of the table.

According to a study by psychologists at the University of Essex, having a phone in view even though it’s not in use can interrupt a conversation and reduce the quality of a relationship.

If you have a valid reason to be on your phone, maybe due to the nature of your work, explain it in advance.

Couple on a coffee date with a man distracted by his mobile phone
Couple on a coffee date with a man distracted by his mobile phone.

Ask questions

Questions create a conversation. With a date, you should ask questions to find out if there’s anything common between you two. On a first date, ask light and friendly questions. Ask them about their family, occupation, interests, etc., but don’t make it seem like a job interview.

  • Make eye-contact.
  • Listen actively. 
  • Share something about you.
  • Don’t be judgemental. Be as open-minded as possible. 

 Stay away from intense questions, especially on a first date. 

Keep it short

A nice date can be around 90 minutes. That’s long enough to decide if you like them or not, and short enough to make them want to see you again.

Respect your date’s preference to pay

Don’t fight over the bill, during or after the date. If they offer to pay and you’re comfortable with that, then go for it. If you offer to split the bill and they insist on paying, don’t ruin it by arguing to make it seem nice. 


Coffee dates make great dates. So, if you’re wondering whether a coffee date will be an actual date, don’t worry. It’s a real date.

Coffee dates may not be romantic, but they are inexpensive, casual, stress-free, and safe for you to meet your date and have a great conversation. Not without any drawbacks, but you can overcome them all. 

These helpful coffee etiquettes can help you prepare for a great coffee date and do things right. 

So, that’s it! You’ve read everything you need to know about the popular coffee date. Is coffee as a date a yay or a nay for you? 

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Over the years, Stephanie has had her fair share of dating experiences. While some turned out great, others weren't so great. She believes that relationships are meant to be fun, exciting, and full of laughter. She wants to help men and women become confident, attractive, and successful in their romantic relationships.