Whether you’re grabbing a quick espresso with an old friend, or testing the waters with a new one, coffee dates are an easy, casual way to spend time face-to-face. A soothing pour over coffee or frothy cappuccino is the best excuse to get out from behind your screen and a little more up close and personal.
Sure, you could have your friend over and whip them up a stove-top espresso with steamed milk, or maybe you own a countertop espresso machine and frother. But let’s face it: your Breville will never compare to that Nuova Simonelli. A latte and pecan square at the neighbourhood cafe is a fantastic token of appreciation that likely won’t break the bank.
But before you head out on your coffee date, remember—not all coffeehouses are the same. The term covers a wide range of caffeine-slinging establishments: indie-music-blasting shops that feel like Union Station at rush hour, eerily silent pseudo-offices, your local commercial Starbucks, or cyclist pit-stops with baristas who may never give you a smile. If your goal is to have a good, long chat, choose a spot with quieter music and big comfy chairs. If you’re keen, search for the rare shopp with no wifi (*gasp*)—you’ll likely face less Macbook-absorbed workers (and more open seating). Of course, check out the menu ahead of time, because if you’re craving a caramel-flavoured iced coffee, we all know a plain old mocha just won’t hit the spot.
So you’ve ordered a frothy cappuccino, tested the biscotti sample by the cash but ultimately decided on a date square (they’re healthy, right?) and staked out your spot on the slightly worn, yet surprisingly comfortable, winged-back chair. Presumably, your friend has done the same. Once the usual small talk is over, it can be hard not to fall into the old habit of critiquing the peculiar art on the walls or defaulting to your latest Netflix binge.
Take inspiration from Mandy Len Catron’s 2015 New York Times essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” and have a few pointed questions on hand. Whether you’ve known your coffee mate for 15 minutes or 15 years, there is no better way to get sentimental and personal than digging deep. Some favourites: If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? What is the greatest accomplishment of your life? Let the conversation flow and you may be surprised by where it leads.
If you’re strapped for time (or maybe you actually aren’t enjoying this new friend’s company as much as you thought you would) the last sip of your latte might be the best way to wrap it up. But if you’ve ended up down an unlikely conversational path and your mug is long empty, you know the coffee date has been a success.
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