A question piqued our interest on Twitter regarding the proper usage of four otherwise interchangeable coffee establishment nouns – “cafe”, “coffee bar”, “coffee shop”, and “coffee house”.

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Coffee Shop: Similar to a diner, in the USA and elsewhere. See: the coffee shop from “Seinfeld”, the coffee shop from the opening of “Natural Born Killers”, the coffee shop from the opening of “Reservoir Dogs”, the coffee shop where Silent Bob drops the titular monologue in “Chasing Amy”. (Note: in Amsterdam, the “coffee shop” is a place where marijuana is sold and consumed.)

Coffee House: Open mic nights, Poetry Slams, sloppy couches, ironic enormous 90s latte bowls. See: the coffee house from “So I Married An Axe Murderer”, Central Perk in “Friends”, that random coffee house where Cory cruelly reads Shawn’s poems in “Boy Meets World” episode 609, “Poetic License“.

Coffee Bar: Boutique, espresso focused, quality oriented. Very little food (if any). See: where you likely hang out / work, Cafe Nervosa from “Frasier”, the use of Park Slope Grumpy as a workplace for that awful what’s-his-name from “Girls”.

Cafe: Purveyors of admittedly delicious sugary concoctions, some containing coffee. Can usually find a selection of paninis, breakfast sandwiches, smoothies, granitas, and “grab & go” juice floating in an ice bucket there. See: the drive-through Starbucks on La Cienega and Jefferson, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Hollywood and Orange, etc.

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