First Date? Which is better, Coffee or Dinner?

By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, Love Essentially columnist and author

You meet a guy you’re interested in at your friend’s party. The next day, he calls (or texts) and asks you to meet him for coffee. Are you disappointed that he doesn’t want to take you out for a romantic dinner date and thinks of you only as "coffee worthy?" Or, are you relieved because meeting for coffee is quick and safe? When it comes to what to do on a first date, which is better, coffee or dinner?

I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

1. The sobriety factor. This is a big plus for coffee. With dinner, comes alcoholic beverages. If you are only having coffee, no one is getting tipsy and saying things he or she might regret the next day. Alcohol can also cause people to lose control and take things a little further physically that they otherwise would have had they been drinking espresso instead of wine.

2. The time and money factor. I will never forget this. I once had a blind date with a guy who asked me to meet him at Starbucks.  I got there first. He walked up to the table and said, “Are you Jackie?” “Yes,” I answered. He looked really relieved and said, “Come on, let’s get out of here and go have dinner!” I should have known right then how superficial he was. He obviously didn’t think I was as hideous as he expected, so it was okay to spent more time and money with me. That really bothered me. What if he didn’t find me attractive? He’d most likely have have a quick Frappucino and would have been outta there stat. Coffee most likely means less time and money spent.  There are exceptions. I once sat in a Starbucks with my boyfriend until they closed at 10:00 pm.

3. More time forces you to get to know the person. This is a huge plus for drinks and dinner. Several years ago, I went on a blind date. When he came to pick me up, I thought to myself, “Ugh…I can’t believe I have to go out for an entire dinner with this guy, and it’s probably going to be 3 hours minimum before I get home!” What a biatch I was! Shortly after we ordered our main courses, however, I began to really fall for him. I noticed how pretty his eyes were and I was appreciating his wit and intelligence. I ended up dating him for 4 months. And by the way,  he ended up breaking up with me! Ain’t Karma a bitch?

4. Dinner and drinks are more romantic. There’s not getting around it. Dinner and drinks definitely go with a more relaxing environment than a bustling coffee house. Coffee is edgy. Do we really need caffeine to make us more jittery on a first date, when we are already so nervous as it is??

5. Coffee takes the pressure off. Having coffee on a first date is like meeting a good friend. So, unlike a dinner date, you are perceived as being either platonic friends, or it might appear you are there for a business meeting. It’s kind of nice to have that pressure lifted off.  Plus, if you don’t hit it off, you really are just two platonic friends having coffee. And, the best part is, no one has spent a lot of money, so no one feels worse if the date doesn’t go well.

I have two solutions that I think are the best first date scenarios.

1. Meet for coffee, and if it’s going well, turn it into dinner!

2. Meet for lunch! Lunch is somewhere between a casual coffee meeting and a romantic dinner. And with lunch, you can always say, “I need to get back to work,” or “Want to get together tonight for our next meal?”
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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

5 Responses to “First Date? Which is better, Coffee or Dinner?”

  1. Doug, Chicago

    Romance on the first dinner date? That’s a pretty high aspiration (probably stoked by Hollywood and our favorite RomComs) … but doesn’t a casual meeting in an informal environment under natural light with something easy and fun to eat (coffee, gelato … a shared scone) give you a great idea if this is a guy you want dress up (or get a sitter) for? We all head to a first dinner in our most impenetrable suit-of-armor (even, or especially, if it’s form fitting and revealing) … isn’t it nicer to go to that dining experience with enough sense of your partner that you can leave the helmet, sword and shield at home? Romance is built through familiarity and trust. It can be really nice to go to that first dinner with someone you already know, relaxed and unselfconscious enough to order dessert … and to enjoy a cup of coffee with that person … again.

  2. paperwhite

    I think you can tell a lot about how sophisticated the man is on a coffee date. ..just stop for a minute and picture the guy who meets you at starbucks and orders a big paper bucket of oversweetened milky rubbish.

    Now think of the guy who takes you to a cool little italian cafe and orders macchiato in a glass cup and a little almond biscotti.

  3. Brian

    I like the idea of coffee first, as you can eat something if you like, and really hang out a while to chat and get to know someone a bit. Dinner is so set with preparing, then getting there for appetizer-dinner-coffee – and is way too structured for me.

    Lunch is a great idea, as it can be casual, and is a good springboard to asking about dinner that night, or the upcoming weekend.

  4. Jenna Hunter

    I like what you said about how coffee dates are less pressure and that dinner or drinks are more romantic, but that they mean more of a time commitment for the date. I think that going to casual lunch restaurants is a good alternative because it is not as automatically romantic or as busy and hectic as a coffee shop might be. I like going out to lunch during a work day so that if the date is bad, you have a reason to escape it!

    • Jackie Pilossoph

      good point! “Oh, darnit, look at the time! My boss is going to be looking for me, I better get back to the office!” LOL!!!


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