The OED defines "thank you" as a polite expression used when acknowledging a gift, service, or compliment, or accepting or refusing an offer. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/thank-you

I've heard native speakers in similar contexts, where one of them answered "thank you" and it was understood for what it was: "yes, please". I would be confused, though.

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    Context is everything. From facial expression or a shake of the head it means "Thank you for asking but no, I don't want coffee." A nod and a smile means "Thank you for asking, yes please." – Mynamite Oct 21 '14 at 23:16

Without any more context, "thank you" as a response to "Would you like some coffee?" would mean an affirmative.

Generally, in such a scenario, the context would actually matter more than the phrase. For example, if I wanted to decline such an offer, I would wave the asker away while shaking my head. If I wanted to accept such an offer, I'd gesture to the cup and nod.

In order to clarify, I would probably respond with either "Oh, sure, thank you" or "No thank you" to a straight "thank you".

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  • British English: A nod of the head accompanied by, "Thank you" means Yes. A shake of the head accompanied by "No thank you" mean No. – chasly - reinstate Monica Sep 30 '15 at 23:12

it means YES but in other languages could be no. For example, if you ask this question to some one from Middle East and s/he says thank you, here means no. Social-cultural aspect play a vital role in understanding the context.

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