I love European cafes. They are a place of refuge, companionship, and, most of all, escape. They are where you eat dessert. You meet new people there and if you hang out long enough, a friend or acquaintance will pass by, making you feel all warm and fuzzy, and securely connected to the world around you.
California cafes are different. They are similarly sun-drenched and aesthetically pleasing. Their offerings are likely to be more eccentric than a French cafe, where croissants and Napoleons would be de rigeur. The food, however, is beside the point. They are places of business. Kibbitzing on your neighbor’s conversation, you are most likely to hear about contracts, scheduling, or upcoming presentations. In Peet’s Coffee in San Mateo, one venture capitalist hears proposals at his table, scheduling a half hour for each candidate (I timed him). Prospective new hires are interviewed, and networks cemented. For this reason, people might spend even longer at a California cafe than at a European cafe, though neither place will chase you out — unless, as we did the last time we were in Paris, you overstay breakfast into lunchtime and they ask you to leave. California cafes serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day and into the evening, so you theoretically would never have to leave.