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Which is the Best First Date? Coffee vs Drinks vs Dinner

Which is the Best First Date? Coffee vs Drinks vs Dinner

Coffee vs Drinks vs Dinner: And the Winner is…

It depends on your personality and your dating goals. Here’s the deal:

A coffee date is the best first date for you if…

  • you prefer more casual, shorter first dates
  • you thrive in quieter settings
  • you’re introverted
  • you want to take things slow
  • you have strong conversational skills

A drinks date is the best first date for you if…

  • you feel more relaxed when you have some alcohol
  • you thrive in louder, more stimulating settings
  • you’re extroverted
  • you might want things to escalate sexually
  • you have a naturally charismatic personality
  • you use physical touch to communicate and connect

A dinner date is the best first date for you if…

  • you’re serious about dating and want to show investment
  • you bond with others easily over shared meals
  • you have strong social skills and table manners
  • you want to have a longer, deeper conversation
  • you know the person already and have clear chemistry

Let’s delve into more detail on the pros and cons of each first date idea.

Starting with the coffee date…

The Coffee Date

Meeting for coffee offers a low-key and casual first date activity.

Coffee dates have become increasingly popular for first dates because they make for a relaxed and informal setting.

Here’s what you should know about the pros and cons of going for coffee a first date.

The Pros: Why Getting Coffee Makes for a Good First Date

There’s a good reason why coffee dates so popular for first dates.

Low pressure

Coffee dates offer a low-pressure and laid-back atmosphere, which can help ease the anxiety many people feel on first dates. If dinner feels too formal or a bar feels too loud, getting coffee at a café can provide a more comfortable and relaxed environment where you and your date can feel at ease and focus on getting to know each other.

Short and cheap

Another reason why getting coffee date is a good first date idea is that it is relatively short and affordable. Coffee dates tend to last only around an hour, and they’re almost always a cheap and budget-friendly date option.

Easy conversation

Coffee dates also allow for easy conversation. Sitting across from each other over a warm cup of coffee provides a natural opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation, while having a lively ambiance around you. Cafés are usually on the quieter side, so it’s easy to hear each other.

Coffee dates tend to be less distracting compared to other date activities, allowing you and your date to focus on each other and develop a genuine connection.

Read: 10 Reasons Why You Keep Having Bad First Dates

Easy planning

A perk of getting coffee for a first date is that it makes for easy planning and versatile options for extending the date. Coffee shops are usually easy to find and readily available in most areas, making them a convenient option for a first date.

Many cafés are open during the day and evening, providing flexibility in terms of scheduling. If the date is going well, you can easily extend a coffee date by suggesting going for a walk or other activity nearby.

The Cons: Why Getting Coffee Can Make for a Bad First Date


Coffee dates offer a fairly limited date experience. While coffee dates provide a great opportunity for conversation, they may lack the variety of activities and shared experiences that other types of dates offer. They’re static and seated and lack any physical movement or activity.

Coffee shops may limit the chance to create shared experiences or shared memories together, which are important steps in building a connection with someone.

Not romantic

Because coffee dates are inherently casual, they tend to lack the romantic ambiance that some people may desire on a first date. The environment of a café is not as intimate or romantic atmosphere as a candlelit dinner or a scenic outdoor location and can feel rather stale.

Too short

For people who like longer first dates, coffee dates may feel too short to allow for a meaningful connection to develop. If you’re hoping to truly get to know someone on the first date, then a coffee date may feel rushed and limited in terms of time.

Can be crowded

Coffee shops can be crowded, so finding a comfortable and private place to sit can be challenging. Sitting on uncomfortable chairs or being surrounded by other people can make the date feel less intimate or romantic.

It may also be difficult to have private, vulnerable conversations or feel truly connected when you’re sitting in a busy café just a foot away from the couple at the table next to you.

What a coffee date means

The main purpose of a coffee date is to have a low-pressure, low-commitment meeting that allows each person to gauge their compatibility and get to know one another in a casual environment.

The meaning of a coffee date is one of simplicity and affordability. Grabbing coffee is one of the best things to do on a first date if you prefer a less formal approach to dating or may not have a lot of time for a longer date.

Read: 8 Reasons Why You Should Kiss on the Second Date

What to wear on a coffee date

While coffee dates are generally casual, it’s still important to dress appropriately and make a good first impression. Dress comfortably but stylishly and confidently. Casual chic is a good idea.

If you want to dress up a bit more without going too formal, a smart casual outfit can be a great option. Consider the location, time of day, and weather when choosing your coffee date outfit, as there’s a chance you may be seated outside.

What time to meet for a coffee date

Coffee dates can happen at any time of day, whether morning, afternoon, or evening. During the afternoon, many coffee shops are not too busy, which means you’ll likely have a quieter environment to chat and get to know each other. Evening coffee dates, meanwhile, can provide a more intimate atmosphere.

The Drinks Date

Going out for drinks is another low-key and casual first date activity that can be step up from coffee. Drinks dates are timelessly popular first dates, and they have a different meaning than coffee dates.

Here’s what you should know about the pros and cons of grabbing drinks for a first date.

The Pros: Why Grabbing Drinks Makes for a Good First Date

Casual yet romantic

One of the biggest advantages of grabbing drinks for a first date is the relaxed, casual, and romantic atmosphere it can create. When you choose the right bar, you can create a first date vibe that’s casual yet flirty.


Drinks dates offer a decent range of options in terms of location and time, though they usually occur later in the day during the evening. Drinks dates can be scheduled for a quick after-work happy hour cheers or at a more intimate evening time. You can choose a trendy cocktail bar, a cozy pub, or a classy wine bar.

This versatility allows for you to plan the perfect first date based on your personal preferences and schedule, as well as your date’s preferences and schedule.


By loosening people up, drinks can help to ease conversation flow on a first date. Sharing drinks can help people open up, get to know each other, ask questions, share stories, and laugh.

Can be short or long

Another reason why grabbing drinks is a great first date idea is that it’s versatile in how long the date could last. If you’re unsure about how well the date will go or if you have a busy schedule, grabbing drinks can be a way to keep the first date under an hour.

A drink date can be short and sweet. And if the date is going well, you can extend it by ordering more drinks or suggesting another activity to do after the bar.

Read: Texting Between the First and Second Date: 5 Rules to Know

The Cons: Why Grabbing Drinks Can Make for a Bad First Date

Impaired judgment

The biggest risk of grabbing drinks for a first date is that you’ll be drinking alcohol, which inherently comes with potential risk.

Alcohol impairs judgment and can make you less attuned to how you’re feeling and what your date is like. Relatedly, if you or your date becomes drunk, then you can’t get or give consent.

Pressure to drink

Suggesting drinks for a first date can put pressure on the other person to drink alcohol, even if they are not comfortable doing so.

This can create an awkward experience, which can take the person out of their zone and make the date go poorly. Not everyone drinks alcohol. It’s important to be mindful of your date’s comfort level and boundaries, and to respect any concerns or preferences they have related to alcohol.

Can be loud

A big downside of drinks dates is that bars can be noisy and crowded. Bars and pubs can be loud and packed places, which can make it difficult to have a good conversation and build a connection on a first date. If it’s challenging to hear what your date is saying, then good luck getting to know them.

Risk of drinking too much

While having a drink or two can be a great way to relax and enjoy the date, there is always the potential for drinking too much on the date. Drinking too much can lead to sloppy behavior, impaired judgment, and an overall unpleasant experience for both you and your date.

What to wear on a first date for drinks

Opt for a smart-casual outfit that strikes a balance between dressy and casual. For men, a collared shirt paired with dark jeans or chinos and dress shoes can be a great choice for a drinks date outfit. For women, a blouse or a nice top with jeans, a skirt, or a dress could work well.

When thinking of what to wear for drinks, consider the venue. If you’re going to a trendy cocktail bar, you’ll want to dress up a bit more. If it’s a casual pub, you can go for a more relaxed look.

Opt for colors that suit your skin tone and make you feel confident. Darker colors like navy, black, or burgundy can add a touch of sophistication, while lighter colors like white, beige, or pastels can create a fresh and casual look.

What time to meet for a drinks first date

The best time to meet for a drinks first date is 8pm. This is a perfect time for an after-dinner meeting that’s not too late for most people.

But there are many possible times a drinks date can happen.

A popular time to grab drinks for a first date is the evening, any time between 7-10pm. This can create a more romantic and intimate setting. However, late evening drinks dates may not be ideal for people who are natural early birds or who have to wake up early the next day for work.

Meeting in the early evening, between 5-7pm, can be a good time for a drinks date after work, without staying out too late. Meeting for drinks during this time, before dinner, can also give you the chance to transition from a casual drinks date to a more formal dinner date if you’d like. Once you get to know each other over drinks, you can suggest going out to restaurant for dinner.

Happy hour, usually taking place in the late afternoon or early evening, is another common time for drinks dates.

Read: When to Ask for a Second Date: How Long Should You Wait?

The Dinner Date

Going out to dinner is a classic first date activity that’s perfect if you’re looking for a more serious and involved date. A dinner date means something more intimate. By sharing a meal together, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to observe how the other person carries themselves, interacts with their space, and practices mannerisms.

If you’re planning to go out to dinner for a first date, here are some key things to know.

The Pros: Why Going Out to Dinner Makes for a Good First Date

Bond over food

Food and meals make for a core part of dating, and going out to dinner on a first date gives you a chance to explore your date’s food preferences.

Food can be a common ground that brings people together and provides a shared experience. Sharing a meal together can reveal a lot about a person’s preferences and habits. Discussing food preferences, allergies, or dietary restrictions can lead to interesting conversations and help you understand each other’s lifestyle choices.

Traditional dating etiquette

Going out to dinner can provide an opportunity for chivalry and traditional dating etiquette that many people desire. On heterosexual dates, men can take the initiative to pay for the meal and show their provider side. While modern dating and gender roles have evolved, many people still appreciate traditional acts of chivalry on a first date, and dinner can make that happen.

Longer, yet flexible timing

Dinner dates tend to last longer than drinks or coffee dates, and they offer some flexibility in how long the date lasts. You can linger over appetizers, enjoy a main course, and even indulge in dessert to extend the date if the conversation is flowing well. The flexibility in timing allows for a natural progression of the date and doesn’t rush or limit the time spent together.

Shared experiences

Dinner can also be a good first date because it provides opportunities for shared experiences between you and your date, which can help build a connection. You can share dishes, eat from the same plates, or share a bottle of wine. Shared experiences, especially when eating together, can create positive memories and powerful bonding moments.

The Cons: Why Going Out to Dinner Can Make for a Bad First Date

More effort

Dinner dates are more work than more low-key types of first dates. When planning a dinner date, you’ll need to be mindful of your date’s food preferences, restrictions, and allergies. Before choosing a restaurant, you’ll need to ask your date if they have any food preferences, allergies, or dietary restrictions. It’s an extra step that you wouldn’t have to worry about on a drinks or coffee date. It’s important to be accommodating and respectful of any preferences or needs your date may have and choose a restaurant that both of you can enjoy.

More pressure

Going out to dinner can create a formal and high-pressure atmosphere for a first date, especially if you choose an upscale restaurant. The ambiance, the etiquette, and the expectations of dining out can create an air of formality that some people would rather avoid when first meeting someone.

Dinner dates can feel like an interview or a performance, with the pressure to impress your date and meet social norms.


Perhaps the most obvious downside of going out to dinner on a first date is that it’s expensive. Going to a nice restaurant especially can be pricey, especially if you’re the one paying the bill.

Awkwardness in paying

On that note, the awkwardness around who will pay for the bill is another downside of dinner dates. The question of whether to pay the whole bill or split the bill can add another layer of stress to the date. Different people may have different expectations when it comes to paying for the meal, and it can be an awkward terrain to navigate on a first date.

Lasts long

Dinner can last a long time. Not only is a dinner date a bigger time commitment than other types of first dates but it’s also a bigger risk. If the date is not going well, it can feel like an eternity and be difficult to end early. Unlike other date options where you can be more flexible and spontaneous with time, such as going for a walk or grabbing coffee, dinner may require a more fixed and longer time commitment.

Read: How Long Should a First Date Last?


For most dinner dates, you’ll need to make a reservation, which requires an extra step of planning and thinking ahead. Going out to dinner on a date without a reservation is a terrible idea, as you run the risk of the restaurant being fully booked.

What to wear on a dinner date

Compared to a drinks date or coffee date, going out to dinner usually means a nicer dress code.

Consider the type of restaurant you’ll be dining at and dress accordingly. Most of the time, it’s best to opt for a smart casual or business casual outfit. If it’s a fancy and upscale restaurant, you’ll want to dress more formally in picking out your perfect dinner date outfit.

How to use dating apps to land more first dates

Hopefully these tips give some insights into what you should do for a first date. Getting coffee, drinks, or dinner each has its own set of pros and cons, and it’s best to think about which one fits your dating style and personality.

When planning a first date with someone you met on a dating app like Hinge, Tinder, or Bumble, it’s important to choose the right type of activity for you.

If you’re on dating apps and want to improve your dating profile so you land more first dates, we have you covered.

We at The Match Lab offer professional services to create dating profiles that attract high-quality matches.

If you’d like to find out which are your most attractive photos to use in your dating profile, give our dating photo analyzer a try. Just upload some photos of yourself, and our algorithm will reveal which photos you should be using in your profile and the ideal order they should go in.

If you’re looking for help with writing your dating profile, then check out our professional dating profile writing service.

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