A post on my local board got me thinking. My mother always insisted that coffee came *after* dessert. She does feel the need to clarify that when she orders, but always in such a tone as to imply that the server *should* know that already (but probably doesn't, hence the need to specify).
Despite her tutelage I confess - I like coffee with my dessert to cut the sweet a bit. Especially with a chocolate dessert. Also, if some of my party is having only coffee, no dessert, it's nicer if we all have something at the same time. On the other hand I can see that the coffee would dull the palate for something more delicate.
What is your preference? How is it done in formal restaurants? Should the server always ask?