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.
The original coffee table, simply put, is a regular table with its legs cut off to make it lower to the ground. The Japanese already had these short tables figured out a long time ago. But as the Japanese were sitting on the floors with their legs crossed, the coffee table was to be used with a sofa. Its not very clear as to the exact time that the modern term "coffee table" came to use, but some put it around the late 18th century to the early 19th.
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