When you want to go to exchange news, share ideas and get advice, you go to a coffee shop. It has been that way for quite some time. Coffee shops had been places of learning; of making business deals; scientific, literary, political, philosophical, and economic discussions; and even the typical gossip.
In the earliest point of its history, coffee houses were already so popular that ideas born from there have been a source of political forums and discussions ever since. The inspiration of brilliant thinking is to the point that, at times, kings and nobility used it as a method of determining public opinion.
During the 17th century when coffee was introduced to Europe, the popularity of cafes followed the same pattern as most coffee houses around the world. It quickly became a venue for people to congregate, exchange views, write poems, plays, and political testaments, conduct business transactions, participate in cultural exchange and often relax with a good book. In those earlier days when were the were no postal addresses, the popularity of coffee shop had also served as a mailing address, because many people were regulars.
A typical coffeehouse shares a common characteristic with a bar or a restaurant. They differ in that a coffeehouse focuses on serving coffee, teas and snacks. In some countries, however, a coffeehouse does serve hot meals, deserts, sandwiches, soups, and alcohol, aside from bakery products.
Today, coffeehouses continue the tradition set by coffeehouses of the past. They still remain to be a very popular venue for people who would want relaxed and calm atmospheres where they can talk, read, catch up on the day's event, meet with people and have excellent quality coffee. This desire is evidenced by popular coffeehouses with franchises around the globe such as Starbucks, Seattle's Best Coffee, Peet's, Cup O' Joe, The Second Cup and the Coffee Bean.
Depending on the country and region, coffeehouses have adopted variations. In the United States, coffeehouses or cafes may offer a variety of coffee styles, hot chocolate and teas served as well as light snacks while others serve full menus. Alcoholic beverages may also be offered.
Cafes in France almost always serve alcoholic drinks. Like most cafes anywhere in the world, they serve light snacks. Other coffeehouses may have a restaurant area where the guests could be served from the full menus. The popularity of cafes in France, especially Paris, gave way to subtle coffeehouse variations like the brasserie where single dish meals are typically served, and the bistro.
The cafe experience in Europe spawned other variations of coffeehouses around the world. These coffeehouses offer curb-side seating and other outdoor seating like the sidewalk, pavement or terraces. The seating is usually clustered along busy streets and operated by private local establishments that could very closely resemble parties, especially during weekends. These patio coffeehouses provide more open public spaces commonly preferred by customers wanting an airy and very casual atmosphere for relaxation and conversation.
Recently, a new type of coffeehouse entered the industry: the Internet cafe. Internet cafes may not appear to be your typical coffeehouse like the bistro, brasserie, cafeteria and the coffee chain establishments but they certainly share the same basic characteristics. Coffee, tea and chocolate are served together with light snacks and chatter. The chatting, though, is done online.
It may or may not replace the traditional coffee shops, but nevertheless, Internet cafes are a hub for political exchange, learning, journalistic, literary and commercial enterprise. Only the styles of coffee shops have changed over the centuries, but in respect to why people frequent them, nothing has really changed.