A table for coffee, traditionally, was necessary in the middle of the living room. Home entertaining was a serious affair in the old days, because of the ceremony of afternoon tea. When a guest makes a house call, he or she must sit in the cushions, and must be served tea or coffee, with some biscuits or crepes. These will be arranged in a tray, with a delicate china service, and then served and placed upon the coffee table. Then, the afternoon will be whiled away with conversation, stories, and news.
Coffee tables and end tables are examples of occasional furniture. There are alternative definitions for this type of furniture, the two most common being furniture that is used on an occasion, and furniture that is used only occasionally. Each of these definitions is so broad, that they could practically be said to be fundamentally the same. The former definition would include coffee tables, used on the occasion of drinking coffee - or any other beverage or drink.
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