Cycling to coffee houses in New Orleans, Nov. 26 – Dec. 5, 2021

Posted: December 13, 2021 in Louisiana trips

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.).

Hi-Volt, a three minute walk from our condo
friendlier and only a five to seven minute walk from our condo is one my favorites: Mojo

There are other coffee houses still within a fifteen minute walk from our condo.

Starbucks, corner Washington and Magazine
Tootie at PJ’s, corner of Magazine and Jackson

on St Charles Avenue a few blocks uptown of Lee Circle
The Vintage on Magazine Street and Seventh Street is a longer walk from our condo but its vibe is sometimes worth the hike. It is one of the few New Orleans places that successfully operates as a coffee house in the morning and a bar at night. They make their own beignets.

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

Cherry Coffee, 4877 Laurel Street

Coffee houses in the CBD and French Quarter

Mammoth Expresso, warehouse district
Maybe my favorite coffee house in all of New Orleans except that it gets too crowded; Envie Cafe at Barracks and Decatur, lower French Quarter
Croissant d’or, lower French Quarter
Backatown Coffee underneath some newer condos on Basin Street

Coffee houses in Faubourg Marigny and Bywater/Ninth Ward

Bywater apparently is attracting hipsters from all over

Petite Clouet, my favorite coffee house in Bywater. The young people running this place (who likely have moved here from somewhere else) are totally on-game, both in making coffee and with customer service.
Darth Vader moving in, corner of Elysian Fields and North Rampart Street

Coffee houses in Treme

Treme, the traditionally African-American neighborhood near the French Quarter, has been gentrifying.

The Flagpole, corner Esplanade and Bayou Road
Also on Bayou Road

Coffee houses in Mid-City and Esplanade Ridge

Hey Coffee is in an industrial area on the Lafitte Greenway just north of Claiborne Avenue
On the Lafitte Greenway just north of Broad Street
On North Carrollton Avenue near the Lafitte Greenway and Canal Street
also nearby, on North Carrollton Avenue near Canal Street
Morning Call dates back to 1870. It left the French Quarter in 1974 and moved to suburban Metairie. Since 2020 it has been at this new location near Cemeteries, on Canal Boulevard. Its big competitor was always Cafe du Monde, which is still very much in business in the French Quarter.
Park Island Brew, on Gentilly Boulevard across from the Fair Grounds
Pagoda Cafe, 1430 North Dorgenois Avenue
CC’s in Esplanade Ridge neighborhood
Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, Esplanade Ridge neighborhood

Coffeehouses in or near Gentilly

In my world this qualifies as diversity. Pontilly Coffee is on Chef Menteur Highway between Gentilly and New Orleans East, across the street from the Baptist Theological Seminary. The clientele is mostly African American. There are biblical quotes and slogans on the interior walls. I have cycled out here and enjoyed this place several times. On my last visit there were several people sitting around doing different kinds of art, holding court.

Metairie/Old Metairie

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.

Evolve is further out towards Kenner and the airport, past Causeway Boulevard. It is a nice place but full of unmasked people and no outdoor seating. I paranoidly took my coffee outside and sat on the curb!

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 had coffees sitting on the sidewalk in front of Nola Beans in downtown Lakeview. It is next door to a Starbucks.

We then rode back the seven or eight miles back to our condo.

Comments
  1. Gerrie says:

    Nice work. With a little editing, you might be able to publish this in a travel or airline magazine. They’re always looking for stories about places people travel.

  2. Harvey Botzman says:

    Now I understand. First you mapped all the coffee houses in the Parish. On the basis of the distance to the greatest number of coffee houses within a 15 minute walk you found and purchased a condo.

    I notice you did not mention eating your regular peanut butter (Do you vary the p’nut butter with almond or cashew butter?) sandwich. Have you switched from p’nut butter to pastries & “po’ boys?”

    I’ve been busy preparing an art portfolio to use for marketing my Erie Canal photographs to gallerists, hotel art buyers, individuals, etc. The community college “Portfolio & Seminar” course ends Friday, I’m the last presenter.

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