Monday, October 3, 2011

The Coffee Date Pt 1: A caffeinated look into a classic first date

The Gist:  This is the first of three posts looking at three different coffee dates and what I’ve learned from each experience.

For a man on a budget, taking a girl out for a cup of coffee on a first date is a wonderfully simple way to get together without investing a lot of time or money.  It may not have the jazz and excitement of an exotic lounge, restaurant or concert experience, but it still allows two people to get to know each other and see if there’s a real connection.  Discovering a connection with a woman is the reason that relationships work or don’t work out in the first place, so why spend tons of money doing elaborate activities when a hot drink at a café works just as well?

From my own experience, there are several factors to consider on a coffee date such as:
  • When is the best time to meet?
  • Where should you go?
  • What should you do during the date? … and after?
I’ll explore the answers to each of these questions based on what I’ve learned through trial and error and the collective wisdom of dating books, blogs and websites.  The first coffee date I will focus on is what I refer call the Pricey Date and reflects a moment from the past, the next post will spotlight a more recent encounter that is an example of a Casual Date and from the sum of all that I’ve learned I will later present the Ideal Date.

The Pricey Coffee Date (The Past)

The coffee date is one of the best first dates as it requires very little money to execute.  At most coffee shops, two coffees will cost you less than $5, and you could also share a dessert or pastry.  About a year ago, I met up with  a woman for a blind date and ended up spending $20 on coffee and dessert, because we went to the Grove and sat down at a restaurant (even though it was called a “café”) and ordered two lattes (about $5 each) with two desserts, which were gigantic and could easily have satiated a crowd of six.  We met at 8:00 p.m. to chat and from that experience here is …

What I learned
1)  Sitting down at a restaurant for a cup of coffee and dessert makes everything more expensive.  It’s hard for me to see $5 as an acceptable price for a cappuccino, but you have to know you’re paying for the sophisticated restaurant environment.  The perk is that it creates a more attractive atmosphere, but you’ll also have to fork over more cash for tips and dealing with a server.  

2)  Waiters typically don’t like customers who are just buying coffee and dessert, so be upfront and extra nice.  If you’re not ordering a full-on meal, the waiter knows he’s in for a more miniscule amount of tip, which means you could get bad service.  Say up front when you sit down that you’re there for coffee and dessert.  This way, the waiter won’t bring out the bread and pester you to order appetizers, drinks, specials, etc.  Be friendly and smile at your waiter, which also has the benefit of allowing your date to see that you’re a social and amicable man. 

3)  Stay for one hour tops, but about 45 minutes is best.  Consider how a hot drink cools rapidly, and will be at room temperature in less than 20 minutes.  The optimal time to enjoy it is rather short.  Even if the conversation is going well, you’ve completed the act of enjoying a cup of coffee after no more than 20 minutes, so use this as a reason to end the coffee portion of the date and do something else.  Set this up beforehand by telling your waiter “thanks, that will be all” the moment the coffees and one dessert (two is way too many) arrive so he’ll know to bring the check.  You can then pay immediately and you’ll now have the freedom to leave the restaurant as you please, even best when the conversation point is at a high such as after a great story or shared laugh. 

If it’s going well, you can now end the date early and build anticipation for the next one or continue the night in a new direction.  We will explore how to elevate the coffee date in the new two posts.

The post next Monday will examine a Casual Date for coffee that happened at a Starbucks in Culver City

So  if you’ve been on a coffee date…

What did you like about it?  What turned you off?  Do you have any suggestions for our readers? 

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