Difference between Cafe and Cafeteria

Key Difference: A café or cafe, is a word that refers to a place that offers coffee, tea and other such hot beverages. Cafeteria is a place where there is little to no staff and has mostly self service counters. These places are often found in large institutions such as schools, colleges, office buildings, etc.

The terms café and cafeteria can seem quite similar as the words café are actually a part of the word cafeteria. However, what these words mean are miles apart. Cafés are completely different from cafeteria in today’s day and age.

A café or cafe, is a word that refers to a place that offers coffee, tea and other such hot beverages. If someone were to paint a picture of a perfect café or coffee shop, it would include comfy chairs, tables, sofas, a bookshelf, and a counter where various different types of coffee and other such beverages can be ordered. The purpose of a coffee shop was to meet up friends for a cup of coffee. The place also offers light foods that can accompany coffee and tea such as sandwiches, biscuits, pastries, wraps, etc. These days coffee houses have also expanded to include cold beverages such as smoothies and juices. Café’s may or many not offer alcoholic beverages; depending on the place it is located. In many Middle Eastern countries, cafes also offer hookahs to its clientele.

Cafeteria is a place where there is little to no staff and has mostly self service counters. These places are often found in large institutions such as schools, colleges, office buildings, etc. The place is mostly filled with many small tables and chairs and food counter or counters are available near walls. Cafeterias mostly resemble food courts in the mall. A person is expected to order their food at the counter and then pay for it. There are two ways a counter could be set up, a person could walk around and get whatever he likes and then pay for it, or it can be in a buffet style where he pays for it once and is eligible for second helpings. In certain office cafeterias, people can pay per product or they can pay by weight. The term ‘cafeteria’ is adapted from American Spanish word ‘cafetería’ meaning “coffee house” and French ‘cafetière’ from ‘café’. However, in English usage, the term cafeteria is reserved for these institutions, while ‘café’ is reserved for coffee houses.

The main difference between the two is one place provides coffee and similar hot beverages and is made for comfort, the other is a place that is strictly for eating and nothing else. Cafés have limited food options, while cafeterias many have multiple food options (in the case of department stores or office complex) or limited food options (in case of schools or college).

Comparison between Cafe and Cafeteria:

 

Cafe

Cafeteria

Other names

Coffeehouse, Coffee shop, Café, Caff, bar, Tea room, small and cheap restaurant, Transport café

Dining hall, Canteen

Definition

A place that offers hot and cold coffee and tea beverages with light snacks

A place that allows people to gather food from a counter and sit in order to consume it

Food

Food is in the form of fast food such as burgers, French fries, etc.

Can offer proper food depending on where the cafeteria is located

Beverages

Coffee, Tea, Espresso, and other such hot beverages

Cold beverages such as Soft Drinks are often served

Seating

Has seating with comfortable chairs or couches

Chairs and tables for quick meals. Can also have simply tables for a standing table

Atmosphere

Comfortable; place for reading, writing and spending time

Hurried; place primarily for eating

Example

Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Dunkin Donuts, Café Coffee Day, Barista

Food Courts, Schools, Community

Image Courtesy: retaildesignblog.net, veraloft.net

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