'Third Places' are neither home nor workplace, but somewhere between. Places to meet, socialise, relax, hang out, work away from the office. Places to eat and drink without pressure to consume or move on. The 'third place' is epitomised by the modern coffee shop, with its sofas and newspapers - a revival of its 18th century role - or by the internet cafe.
That coffee shops should be third places more than bars, say, has to do with the beverages consumed. Stay in the bar all afternoon and you will get drunk. Stay in the coffee house and you will get things done. Of course it's not always that clear-cut. But for a place serving alcohol to function as a third place, its raison d'etre must not be the consumption of alcohol.
Of course, in many ways this is a new name for the role that cafes have long performed in Mediterranean life. But the 'third place' is not focussed on the act of eating and drinking in the fashion of traditional cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs. The food or drink one consumes is the entry fee, not the point. The 'third place' is a living room, but not in someone's house; a workplace, but not in someone's office.