Café : A Terminological Description

café, also spelled cafe, may in the United States mean an informal restaurant, offering a range of hot meals and made-to-order sandwiches, while in most other countries it refers to an establishment which focuses on serving coffee, like an American coffeehouse. Origin of the term "café" is from French for coffee.

The English words coffee and café both descend from the continental European trans-lingual word root /kafe/, which appears in many European languages with various naturalized spellings, including Italian (caffè); Portuguese, Spanish, and French (café); German (Kaffee); Polish (kawa); Ukrainian (кава, 'kava'); Indonesian (Kopi) and others. European awareness of coffee (the plant, its seeds, the beverage made from the seeds, and the shops that sell the beverage) came through Europeans' contact with Turkey, and the Europeans borrowed both the beverage and the word root from the Turks, who got them from the Arabs. The Arabic name qahwa (قهوة) was transformed into kaweh (strength, vigor) in the Ottoman Empire, and it spread from there to Europe, probably first through the Mediterranean languages (Italian, Spanish, French, Catalan, etc.) and thence to German, English, and others, though there is another well-based theory that it first spread to Europe through Poland and Ukraine, through their contacts with the Ottoman Empire.

In most European countries, the term café implies primarily serving coffee, typically accompanied by a slice of cake/tart/pie, a "danish pastry", a bun, or similar sweet pastry.  Many (or most) cafés also serve light meals such as sandwiches.   European cafés often have tables on the pavement as well as indoors.  Some cafés also serve alcoholic beverages, particularly in Southern European countries.

In the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland a café (with the acute accent) is similar to those in other European countries, while a cafe (without acute accent) is more likely to be a greasy spoon style eating place, serving mainly fried food, in particular breakfast dishes.
In the Netherlands and Belgium, a café is the equivalent of a bar, and also sells alcoholic beverages. A coffeeshop in the Netherlands sells soft drugs (cannabis and hashish) and is generally not allowed to sell alcoholic beverages.

A café or coffee shop is a restaurant with full-service tables and counters and broad menu offerings over extended periods of the day. In hotels, the coffee shop is a more popular-priced alternative to the formal dining room. Coffee shops often encourage families and provide special menus for children. To establish a family-friendly atmosphere, in many localities they do not serve wine or beer. [source : Café]