I'm looking for a word equivalent to "barfly" applying to people who like to spend time lingering and socializing in cafes next to a coffee or a beer. It can be a slang term or something historical.

  • What is the purpose of the socializing? Hooking up, or just hanging out? – jxh Feb 7 '18 at 0:49
  • hanging out, "wasting time" – Howard Roark Feb 7 '18 at 0:53
  • I was thinking some analog to beatnik, but I can't find one. – jxh Feb 7 '18 at 1:14
  • I don't think there's a word or expression for this... but there darn well should be! Mmm, what about froth-fly? Saucer-jockey? Espressonist? Lattetudinarian? Café lizard? Beanholer? Teatarrier? Starbucist? – ArchContrarian Feb 7 '18 at 4:41

I can not think of a single word in English, but we typically just call these people café-goers because they go to the café. Wiktionary1 is the only dictionary which directly attests this as a word, which it defines as "One who goes to a café". This gives somebody some room to be doubtful, but the more reputable dictionaries show that goer is applied as a sort of suffix with the following examples:

  • churchgoer 2
  • filmgoer 3
  • clubgoer 4
  • beachgoer 4

Granted, I do not expect there to be many more examples of such words, and cafe-goer is the very rarest of them on this Google nGrams chart comparing the various goers with barfly:

This is a screenshot of google ngrams comparing cafe-goer, churchgoer,filmgoer,clubgoer,beachgoer,theatregoer and barfly on a range from the early 1800s that is hosted on archive.is for additional reliability

However, various words using the goer suffix are used about as often as barfly, and even the small sample still consists of dozens of readily accessible printed quotations. I also sometimes heard it in news reports to name the customers of establishments such as Starbucks. Take the Forbes article China's Coffee Culture which was written by Maura Elizabeth Cunningham and published on April 28th, 2010 for example:

Aside from one caffeine-dependent American student, most of the other cafe-goers fell into three general categories. There were often tables of middle-aged Chinese women chatting over coffee and pastries, especially in the late morning and early afternoon. Businessmen also held meetings at some coffee shops, though on more than one occasion I saw their frustration at the strict no-smoking policies in places like Starbucks and Costa Coffee. The third group was composed of young couples, who would often get comfortable on the cafe's couches, nurse drinks and watch DVDs on a laptop together.

Aside from being a respectable source, its usage here is used to preface the sorts cafe-goers in a manner similar enough to how I might expect barfly to preface the various sorts of more infamous patrons who might visit a bar, although I can not exactly find a good example for comparison at the moment.

1 Wiktionary licenses the excerpted text under CC-BY-SA 3.0 terms.
2 Collins English Dictionary—Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition s.v., goer
3 Random House Kerenerman Webster's Dictionary (© 2010) s.v., goer
4 The American Heritage Dictionary 5th Edition, s.v., goer

| improve this answer | |

I don't think that there is a (British) English word. The French have at least two words that might be relevant (and both can be seen in English texts - a sign that I might be right about the absence of an English word): flaneur or boulevardier. I know that literally they both imply movement but only from one bar to another, and that at a slow pace.

| improve this answer | |

café habitué

It's cited by Merriam-Webster

a person who may be regularly found in or at a particular place or kind of place

From Google Books the following excerpt

For the cost of a drink, a café habitué can tarry in a state of detached involvement, enjoying a succession of small encounters (with people, things, thoughts) that need never be registered, acknowledged or remembered, in a space that does not compromise on homely comforts. (Teresa Gómez Reus)

| improve this answer | |

Vienna: a different time, a different culture, and certainly a different coffeehouse, but still worth a look:

Im Kaffeehaus sitzen Leute, die alleine sein wollen, aber dazu Gesellschaft brauchen.

People sit in a coffeehouse who want to be alone but who need company to do so.

Seit zehn Jahren saßen die zwei jeden Tag stundenlang im Kaffeehaus. Das ist eine gute Ehe! Nein, ein gutes Kaffeehaus.

"For hours everyday for the last ten years those two have sat in the coffeehouse. That's a good marriage!" "No, a good coffeehouse." — Alfred Polgar, Austrian author, 1873–1955.

There isn't a Viennese word for someone who frequents coffeehouses because even if they rarely or never go to one, the Viennese understand it as an integral part of their culture.

As for a word in English, I'd vote for café aficionado/a because it sounds like a pretentious bistro in some mid-sized American city.

| improve this answer | |
  • And the word for people who visit or spend time at cafés is....? – Mari-Lou A Feb 7 '18 at 6:04

How about members, or afficionados of, 'café society'?

It is difficult to find words for the individual activity of 'café-going'—yet easier to find words for what goes on there—the exchange of artistic and creative ideas, philosophising—even, coming up with new schools of thought there—as in the existentialists and Jean Paul Sartre—who famously hung-out in cafés, according to the Washington Post Op. article:

At the Existentialist Cafe’: Hanging out with Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir and More,

by Heller McAlpin (Mar. 25th 2016).

So how about 'literati', 'café society' or 'On the Café scene…'?

On a more mundane note, what about 'coffee lovers', or 'caffeine lovers, looking for their next fix…'?

Coffee-bean lovers as in: 'Lovers of the mood-altering effects of the humble coffee bean…'

Starbucks members?
Caffeine addicts?
Caffeine worshippers?


| improve this answer | |
  • "Coffee lovers" are people who love coffee and drinking It, they don't necessarily go to cafés or coffee shops. "Caffeine addicts" has more negative connotations than positive. "Caffeine worshipper" doesn't mean someone who frequents coffee bars. – Mari-Lou A Feb 7 '18 at 6:12
  • The asker has not specified that she wants a 'positive term' - nor has she said how she wants to use the term - which is why I provided some different ideas. She also said she is 'looking for an expression like 'barfly'' - which is not a particularly positive term. – Jelila Feb 7 '18 at 14:42
  • S/he hasn't specified much, really. Which is why the answer is a poor fit. – Mari-Lou A Feb 7 '18 at 15:13
  • How can you say 'it's a poor fit' at the same time as decrying the question as unspecified'? How do you know 'it's a poor fit'? You don't. That's like complaining that 'it's bad that my size 18 shirt doesn't fit my size 8 body' when all you asked for, was 'a shirt'. Why don't you ask the questioner to be more specific, instead of criticising my potentially helpful answer? – Jelila Feb 7 '18 at 15:55
  • I'm glad you love tea, Mari-Lou! In the absence of many words to describe 'café-going' apart from 'café-goer' which is not a very evocative term, and which I don't think captures much of the whole 'café scene' experience, which I mentioned in my answer as a member of 'café society', I offered some additional expressions that I thought might suit the needs of the asker - or help get their mind moving on other tracks - which might help them find an answer. Caffeine addict and coffee worshipper does not per se mean that a person hangs around in cafés - but it could allude to that. – Jelila Feb 7 '18 at 16:05

intelligentsia (n.) - intellectuals who form an artistic, social, or political vanguard or elite

is a very common name for coffee shops and the people who frequent them.

More archaic is gad (v.), to go around from one place to another, in the pursuit of pleasure or entertainment. I suppose you could call someone like that a gadder, but to gad about sounds better.

| improve this answer | |

I call myself a "Cafe Cat", I made it up myself. Cats hang around and they interact when they want to or they can completely ignore you. They have their own agenda for whatever their doing. It's not negative in any way such as a "barfly" or a "gym rat". Which indicates someone who's more of an annoyance. Cats are usually liked by most people, people who go to Cafe are usually very social on some level. With cats, it's completely acceptable to be ignored by them. In fact being ignored by them doesn't make anyone hate them. it just makes it, it. People in cafes are kind of like that too. You can be ignored by them they can interact with you and if you interrupt them, they'll either love it or you'll know they don't want it. "Cafe Cat" also has a slight spin on the whole "Beatnik" thing because back in the day they were called Cool Cats". So I votr for Cafe Cat. It's what I call myself and I think it fits.....Jen Parsley-Kellenbarger~cafe cat~coffee/cafe lover~Central Coast of California dweller🐱.☕🌞🤙🏼 4/3/18

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.