Until Seattle (and Starbucks) showed superior marketing, New Orleans was the coffee capital of America. I visited New Orleans for the first time while an undergraduate. On that 1976 trip I had Breakfast At Brennan’s as my first real gourmet restaurant meal. I can still remember the intensity of the coffee that accompanied the bananas foster. In 1976 no one served coffee like that back home in Virginia Beach.
Fast forward a few decades. America has changed. Good coffee is available almost everywhere. New Orleans has changed. Independent coffee houses have opened all over the city.
Writers who consider urbanity talk about the importance of a third place, a public setting to hang out that is not your home and not your workplace. On a recent stay in New Orleans I found comfort in cycling for an hour or two or three around New Orleans before sitting alone outdoors at some random coffee house reading (mostly The New Yorker) on my Kindle. These coffee houses are spread over a large area, some many miles apart from others. While traditional New Orleans coffee has been drip coffee with chicory, I always get a latte made with expresso and oat or almond milk. There are a three local chains (CC’s, PJ’s and French Truck) but most New Orleans coffee places seem proudly independent. Most were established in the years after the 2005 Katrina hurricane. I will group them by neighborhood.
Coffee houses in the Lower Garden District (our neighborhood.).
There are other coffee houses still within a fifteen minute walk from our condo.
The other coffee places are beyond walking distance from our condo, in all parts of the city. Over my week and a half spent in New Orleans I bicycled all over.
Coffee houses in the remainder of Uptown
Coffee houses in the CBD and French Quarter
Coffee houses in Faubourg Marigny and Bywater/Ninth Ward
Bywater apparently is attracting hipsters from all over
Coffee houses in Treme
Treme, the traditionally African-American neighborhood near the French Quarter, has been gentrifying.
Coffee houses in Mid-City and Esplanade Ridge
Coffeehouses in or near Gentilly
Metairie, across the line into Jefferson Parish, is New Orleans’ nearest suburb. The closest part, Old Metairie, is little more than five miles from the French Quarter, closer to downtown New Orleans than some parts of actual New Orleans. One can really feel the Red/Blue divide when crossing the Parish line, although Old Metairie is as upscale as anywhere in the New Orleans metro area. In my New Orleans neighborhood of Lower Garden District I sense lots of people are from Somewhere Else and you do not hear the distinct Brooklynesque White New Orleans accent all that often. At coffee houses in Old Metairie you hear that accent constantly, and no one wears a mask. I cycled to the area several times and enjoyed sitting outside, sipping my oat milk latte and reading.
Coffee houses in Lakeview
Lakeview is, as expected, near the lake and just inside the New Orleans line from Metairie. It has its own little downtown. While an upscale area it flooded badly during Katrina when the 17th Street Canal failed. Nearly all the small 1940-50’s one story houses that flooded have been replaced by much larger new two story monsters, lined up close together. I rode out there one day with Tootie.
We then rode back the seven or eight miles back to our condo.