Want to grab a coffee sometime?
It hit me when I was asked for the 8th time if I wanted to go get a coffee. I don’t even like coffee. I’m partial to tea - green tea to be exact. Bubble tea, I like.
Coffee? Unless you’re Keith Loh or John Ting, or some unpolished gem of a barista whose idea of a date include impressing me with latte art, spelling my name in perfect cursive, or creating a steamed milk caricature of my face - getting asked out on a coffee date does not excite me one bit.
I spent a semester in Sweden, a place where daily life is practically structured around coffee. Swedes dedicate a good portion of their day to having fika - a coffee break typically accompanied by a sweet bite or snack.
In the student housing quarters I lived in, brewed coffee was there all the damn time. I’ve lost count of the number of times people have congregated in the living room for a coffee. If it is as they say, that caffeine keeps you awake, I couldn’t fathom why people deliberately chugged coffee at 11pm just to be social. Did they forget beer was an option? Hell, even hot chocolate made more sense to me.
So why coffee? What kind of strange relationship-enhancing properties does it have? What kind of social situations demand coffee, and what experiences might be heightened when coffee is a part of it? Here’s my take.
1. Coffee is cheaper than dinner.
Because coffee is cheaper, the asker is paying a lower insurance premium for the same potential mishap - a bad date. If the date goes well, dinner might be on the menu too. And if it doesn’t, don’t worry! That date at the cafe probably didn’t set you back too much.
However, some people think that coffee dates should not exist any more, because it reflects badly on the asker. It shows that he/she is a total commitment-phobe because a coffee date might seem to be as unimportant and transient as an one-night stand.
2. 'Grabbing’ coffee is a 'casual' thing.
Cafe joints are sprouting up everywhere and everyone goes to one at least once or twice a month. It is less pretentious than a fancy dinner establishment and puts less pressure on both parties to impress each other. Therefore, you're less likely to be rejected.
Think about social interaction nowadays. We text, we snapchat and we reduce our personalities to a few lines on Tinder. A 2-hour sit-down dinner? With proper conversations and dining etiquette and fretting over outfits? Too much effort!
Nowadays we’re swiping left or right to faces of people we’ve never seen. We’re liking strangers' pictures on Instagram. We don't bother with formalities when meeting new people digitally is so much easier and less stressful - and it's the same with formal dinners and casual coffee dates.
3. ‘Coffee’ isn’t just liquid caffeine.
Coffee encompasses a whole range of emotional cues.
There is no alcohol in coffee, nothing that would encourage risque or inappropriate behaviour which would be intolerable on a first date. Unlike heading to a bar, grabbing coffee doesn’t scream "I want to get inside your panties!"
Just like how you’re a reflection of the drinks you order at the bar, getting a casual midday coffee assumes you’re laidback, not desperate.
Ideally this coffee date takes place before nightfall. It’s silly to do coffee runs or dates in the middle of the night because that might potentially disrupt your sleep routine. When you say yes to a coffee with someone, you assume it's probably not going to be the last thing you do before bed.
I know, I know. It’s just a coffee date. Why waste my time deconstructing it?
What are your thoughts on coffee and dating? Let us know in the comments!