Coffeehouse/cafeteria/coffeeshop

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Hotmale

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,
is there much difference between coffeehouse, cafeteria or coffee shop?
Are they synonyms?

Thank you
 
  • giannid

    Senior Member
    USA English
    For me coffeehouse and coffeeshop are similar terms describing a place to go to get a cup of coffee and maybe something to eat like a pastry or a piece of cake.

    However, a cafeteria on the other hand is usually a place in a company or school where the people go to eat lunch.
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    However, a cafeteria on the other hand is usually a place in a company or school where the people go to eat lunch.
    I agree, except in a public, commercial setting, the cafeteria, known by it's shorter name, café (or cafe) is regarded as a place to have a drink, if that is all you want (i.e. a tea or coffee).
     

    giannid

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I agree, except in a public, commercial setting, the cafeteria, known by it's shorter name, café (or cafe) is regarded as a place to have a drink only (i.e. a tea or coffee).
    Sure, as long as you call it a café. I think however in American English, we make a distinction between cafeteria and café, with café being a borrowed word from French.
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Hello,
    is there much difference between coffeehouse, cafeteria or coffee shop?
    Are they synonyms?

    Thank you
    In answer to the original question, cafe, (Anglicised from the French word, café), is a synonym of cafeteria which is a synonym for a coffee-house or coffee shop.

    In the UK, a cafe, pronounced caff is considered less of a coffee shop than it's French counterpart, the café (meaning coffee), but is a place to sit and enjoy a coffee.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    In answer to the original question, cafe, (Anglicised from the French word, café), is a synonym of cafeteria which is a synonym for a coffee-house or coffee shop.

    In the UK, a cafe, pronounced caff is considered less of a coffee shop than it's French counterpart, the café (meaning coffee), but is a place to sit and enjoy a coffee.
    In answer to the original question, cafe is an irrelevant aside.

    The original question was quite clear and specific, and asked " is there much difference between coffeehouse, cafeteria or coffee shop?
    Are they synonyms?"

    There is an obvious AE/BE distinction here. In AE these are not synonyms. I am pleased to learn about BE usage of these three words from BE speakers.

     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    To me, these are all different. I'm speaking from an AE perspective.

    Coffeehouse - a place that serves beverages, pastries, and possibly sandwiches. A coffeehouse doesn't have a kitchen that can create hot meals. You might be able to get soup from a coffeehouse, but that would be the extent of hot food available. The food is ordered at a counter and handed to you by the cashier (or by the barrista in the case of espresso-type drinks.) Starbuck's shops are coffeehouses to me. They look like this inside. A coffeehouse may also have a small stage, open mic nights, poetry readings, or individual performers or very small groups performing on certain evenings. Starbuck's doesn't have this, but independent coffeehouses may have this. It's not unusual at all in the Los Angeles area. Neither a cafeteria nor a coffee shop will have a stage, unless it's an odd exception to the rule.

    Cafeteria - a place that offers meals, snacks and beverages on a "self-serve" basis by taking a tray and walking along a line of food with servers behind that line. If the food is hot, it is dished out in a portion on a plate and handed to you. If it is cold, you usually can take a serving of it for yourself. You pay the cashier at the end of the line and seat yourself with your food. The interior looks much like this.

    Coffee shop - this used to be called a "short order" establishment. It can be either a chain, such as Denny's, or a "mom-and-pop" coffee shop. You are seated in booths, at tables, or at a counter, and you may order from usually a large selection of offerings, each cooked to order in the kitchen and served to you by a waitress. The counter where you eat often looks like this and the booths look like this. It differs from a restaurant in several ways: it's open for breakfast (and restaurants typically aren't); the type of food served is more "home-style", day-to-day type offerings than something a chef would prepare; and the atmosphere is very casual. It would be fine to order just a cup of coffee at a coffee shop. It would be a surprise to order just coffee at a restaurant. Visitors to the U.S. be forewarned, however; the type of coffee you will get at a coffee shop has nothing in common with espresso-based coffee drinks. :) In my experience, the local coffee shop in the U.S. serves much the same social function as the pub in England, espeically in small towns. The locals gather here, particularly the "old-timers", and catch up on local news while visiting.
     

    Hotmale

    Senior Member
    Polish
    James, thank you a lot for your explanation and the linked photos.
    I know more about these places than I expected to know!
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    In answer to the original question, cafe, (Anglicised from the French word, café), is a synonym of cafeteria which is a synonym for a coffee-house or coffee shop.

    In the UK, a cafe, pronounced caff is considered less of a coffee shop than it's French counterpart, the café (meaning coffee), but is a place to sit and enjoy a coffee.
    I disagree with this - a café (pronounced "caffay" by everyone I've heard say it "live" (I have heard it pronounced "caff" on the TV in Eastenders)) for me is not a synonym of a cafeteria. A cafeteria is a place where you get basic meals and drinks, usually within some sort of establishment - an office, a school, a department store. A café is its own shop serving soft drinks (hot and cold) and food - particularly the fried variety, sometimes exclusively. A coffeeshop is also its own free-standing shop and serves all different types of coffees and teas and some soft drinks. I wouldn't expect them to do any other sort of food than cakes and biscuits. I'm not sure what a coffeehouse is - and before reading this thread would have assumed this related to the name of a producer of coffee, such as "nescafé" for example.
     

    loladamore

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I don't think they are synonyms in BE, just as they are not completely analagous in AE.

    Coffeehouse. For a start, it's two words in BE: Coffee house, and the term properly corresponds to a foreign concept, traditionally equivalent to an English tea shop, only with coffee instead of/as well as tea. See this definition here, for example.

    My understanding of cafeteria is that it is synonymous with canteen, and fits in perfectly with James' explanation. The emphasis is on food.

    Coffee shop: the traditional British meaning for me would be a place where you buy coffee by the kilo (pound), not drink it. The new meaning is the Starbucks concept and, I presume, borrowed from AE. The other meaning is the Amsterdam concept.

    Conclusion: there's probably no real difference these days between AE and BE in practice in how these words are used. The terms may have originally applied to different concepts in the two varieties, but it is highly likely that only a pedant (like myself) would make any distinction these days. I am quite happy to accept James' explanations as perfectly valid and an appropriate response to the original question.

    Cheers.

    PS: There is different ways of pronouncing café in the UK: caffay, caffi, and caff. The first is posher and the latter refer to the same, less classy variety of establishment. No doubt they are the result of different regional pronunciations (I say caffi).
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I disagree with this - a café (pronounced "caffay" by everyone I've heard say it "live" (I have heard it pronounced "caff" on the TV in Eastenders)) for me is not a synonym of a cafeteria.
    Wikipedia:



    "In southern England, especially around London in the 1950s, the French pronunciation was often shortened to [kæf] and spelt caff [3]."

    caff
    n : informal British term for a cafe

    -- From WordNet (r) 2.0

    Hi timpeac,

    Yes, you are correct that it is not a synonym, but informal slang.


     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I agree, except in a public, commercial setting, the cafeteria, known by it's shorter name, café (or cafe) is regarded as a place to have a drink, if that is all you want (i.e. a tea or coffee).
    For clarification: these two words are etymologically related, but indirectly. Café is not a short form of cafeteria.

    Café was imported to BE from French late in the 19th century as the name for a class of restaurant.

    Cafetería, at around the same time, was arriving in AE from Spanish, originally meaning a coffee-house, then a restaurant, and now, especially, a self-service restaurant.

    (Summarised from the OED)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Before the BE contingent gives coffee-house away ... :eek:
    Didn't Samuel Pepys hie him to a coffee-house betimes?
    The history of coffee and coffee houses in London is particularly revealing of how coffee shaped the emergence of modern society. The first coffee house opened in London in 1652. A man named Bowman, servant to a merchant in the Turkey trade, opened it in partnership with Pasqua Rosee in St. Michael’s Alley, Cornhill. An advertising handbill from the shop, The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, is preserved in the British Museum.
    Source
     

    Chaska Ñawi

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Around here, you can also have a "coffee-house" with little or no coffee involved. As an example, the local secondary school has a coffee-house every year (in their cafeteria) to feature musical performances by various students. The concert is the feature, not the commisariat.

    A cafe used to be understood to be any restaurant with a patio, but we've become a little more cosmopolitan since then. Now it implies an upscale restaurant where you can get coffee, light lunches and desserts. If it sells fast food, it's a diner, not a cafe.
     

    giannid

    Senior Member
    USA English
    FYI, I have an English dictionary from the 18th century. It defines coffee house.

    Coffee-House: A House where Coffee is sold, where People meet for Business, or to hear News.
     

    winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    café (pronounced "caffay" by everyone I've heard say it "live" (I have heard it pronounced "caff" on the TV in Eastenders)) for me is not a synonym of a cafeteria. A cafeteria is a place where you get basic meals and drinks, usually within some sort of establishment - an office, a school, a department store. :tick:
    A café is its own shop serving soft drinks (hot and cold) and food - particularly the fried variety, sometimes exclusively. :tick:
    A coffeeshop is also its own free-standing shop and serves all different types of coffees and teas and some soft drinks. :tick:
    I agree with all this - except the caff part, which is not limited to Eastenders, and often forms part of the collocation transport caff. (Caff is virtually always spoken, and would be written cafe.)
     
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