When you're dating again (after being with someone for many years), it can be difficult to go on the first few dates. They can be costly, awkward, and you might not know how to end them gracefully. Coffee dates are your answer.
Coffee dates are perfect for online daters, because you can choose a centralized location, drive there yourself, and spend an hour meeting someone you've been corresponding with online. But they're also good for any type of first date where you don't know someone very well, like set ups from friends or strangers who ask you out.
Basically, any time you're unsure about whether or not you really want to go out with someone, try a coffee date first. It will help you get to know someone new without the pressure that a regular date provides.