So, what is a coffee shop?
Is it an establishment that provides coffee, atmosphere, and food? Or is it a place that provides food, atmosphere, and coffee?
I think coffee shops can be divided into two categories: ones that emphasize food and atmosphere and serve espresso drinks and pre-brewed coffee, and ones that emphasize the coffee, but also happen to serve espresso and espresso drinks, might or might not have much in the way of food, and are of course, nice places to gather.
So how to differentiate? They both are great places to sit and sip coffee. They both serve espresso, enjoyable lattes, cappuccinos, and Americanos. They both (usually) sell beans. They both have varying amounts of yummy things to eat.
They both serve coffee. But one brews individual cups of coffee to serve, and the other has only big thermal carafes of pre-brewed coffee.
I think I'll call them by these names: custom coffee shop and cafe coffee shop. Yeah, I know "cafe" means coffee, but to many of us, it means "little informal restaurant," and that's how I'm using it here.
I visited two cafe coffee shops this previous weekend. One was pretty good, and serves their own roasts, and their latte was good, but their thermal carafe of coffee was merely OK. The other smelled like rancid grease, and despite the coffee being decent, that pretty much killed the experience for me.
I like most coffee shops, regardless of style. A place to sit and sip and talk is always appreciated. But there's nothing quite like a freshly-brewed cup of coffee made just for me. And while I'm not generally an espresso-drinker, I think the custom coffee shops tend to serve better espresso, too. So, I definitely prefer the custom coffee shops.
Does that make me a coffee-snob? Probably. But I'm OK with that.