Coffee Shops Euphoria
The popularity of coffee shops, boosted by TV shows like Friends, has even changed the thinking of long-established players like McDonald's and Little Chef, which are keen to enjoy a slice of the action.
Sofas, coffee tables and contemporary lighting are being introduced to McDonald's restaurants as the fast-food giant battles to keep up with its rivals and revive flagging sales.
About 150 branches have already been given a fresh image as part of a drive to revamp restaurants amid tough competition. McDonald's has already introduced freshly-made coffee, and a more homely coffee-shop atmosphere will help it to compete better with businesses such as Starbucks and Caffe Nero.
A coffeehouse, coffee shop, or cafe (also spelt café from the French or caffè from the Italian) shares some of the characteristics of a bar, and some of the characteristics of a restaurant. As the name suggests, coffeehouses focus on providing coffee and tea as well as light snacks. Other food may range from baked goods to soups and sandwiches, other casual meals, and light desserts. In some countries, cafes may more closely resemble restaurants, offering a range of hot meals, and possibly being licensed to serve alcohol. Many coffee houses in the Muslim world, and in Muslim districts in the West, offer shisha, powdered tobacco smoked through a hookah.
As the name suggests, coffeehouses focus on providing coffee and tea as well as light snacks. Other food may range from baked goods to soups and sandwiches, other casual meals, and light desserts. In some countries, cafes may more closely resemble restaurants, offering a range of hot meals, and possibly being licenced to serve alcohol.
An essential part of a coffeehouse from its beginnings has been its social functions, providing a place where people go to congregate, talk, write, read, play games, or while away time individually or in small groups. Coffee shop is the area where you can go to meet other people with similar interests, goals, and objectives.
The current spate of chain coffee shops such as Starbucks, Peet's, Seattle's Best Coffee, The Coffee Bean and Second Cup have a clear lineal descent from the espresso and pastry centered Italian coffeehouses of the Italian-American immigrant communities in the major US cities, notably New York City's Little Italy and Greenwich Village, Boston's North End, and San Francisco's North Beach. Before the rise of the Seattle-based Starbucks chain, Seattle (and other parts of the Pacific Northwest) had a thriving, largely countercultural coffeehouse scene; Starbucks standardized and "mainstreamed" this model.
The liquor laws in many areas in the United States generally prevent anyone under the age of 21 from entering bars, so coffeehouses in that country can often be important youth gathering places.
Since approximately the Beat era, the term coffeehouse has come to imply the availability of espresso drinks, and while "coffee shop" still could suggest an establishment where one would buy coffee, there has been an evolution so that it now suggests "diner" more than coffee-drinking hang-out per se.
Starting in the 1980s, a counter clerk in a coffeehouse has come to be known in English as a barista, from the Italian word for bartender.
The contemporary coffeehouse is just the latest example of a drinking establishment-bars, public houses, taverns and soda shops have also served this purpose-as the center for cultural exchange in a particular community, often fomenting social and political change.
In the United States, café (from the French word for coffee) is a small restaurant. Styles of cafés vary; some concentrate upon many styles of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, with possibly a selection of baked goods and sandwiches, while others offer full menus. American cafés may or may not serve alcoholic beverages, and the serving of coffee may be incidental to the serving of food.
In France, a "café" certainly serves alcoholic beverages. French cafés also often serve simple snacks (sandwiches etc...). They may or may not have a restaurant section. A brasserie is a café that serves meals, generally single dishes, in a more relaxed setting than a restaurant. A "bistro" is a café / restaurant, especially in Paris. Bistro food is supposed to be cheap, but in recent years bistros, especially in Paris, have become increasingly expensive.
Cafés developed from the coffeehouses that became popular in Europe upon the introduction of coffee. Those also spawned another, completely different type of restaurant, the cafeteria.
There are two types of cafés: those that specialize in coffee and hot beverages, and those with a full menu, the most famous examples of which are the "French cafés," especially those in Paris.
Cafés, in warmer days, may have an outdoor part (terrace, pavement or sidewalk café) with seats, tables and parasols. This is especially the case with European cafés. See also public space.
Cafés offer a more open public space to many of the traditional pubs they have replaced, which were more male dominated with a focus on drinking alcohol. Many people complain that traditional, local venues are being pushed out by cloned, characterless cafes controlled by big business. This is often due to the business practices of chains such as Starbucks, which will oversaturate an area so as to drive overall profits up while lowering the profits of individual establishments.
The original uses of the cafe, as a place for information exchange and communication was reintroduced in the 1990s with the Internet cafe. The spread of modern style cafes to many places, urban and rural, went hand in hand with computers. Computers and Internet access in contemporary-styled venue is a youthful, modern, outward-looking place, compared to the traditional pubs, or old-fashioned diners that they replaced. In the mid 2000s, of course, many mainstream cafes offer Internet access, just as they offer telephones and newspapers.