New Orleans has one of those long, intertwined histories when it comes to coffee. More than once, it was one of the largest importing ports of coffee in the United States. As for chicory coffee? It’s more than just something to get with beignets, and its presence in New Orleans dates back to the mid 1700s. During the Civil War when the Union Naval blockade made coffee difficult to get in the Crescent City, chicory’s importance waxed — with what little coffee residents could get their hands on, they stretched the inventory with ingredients like chicory, a plant with edible roots that added body and flavor.
History proves you could always get coffee in New Orleans. But as the “Third Wave of Coffee” rose across the United States, New Orleans was left behind in some ways. When I first moved here in 2012, I was disappointed by the lack of independent coffee shops, ones that focused on high-quality beans and alternative brewing methods. Finding a pour over coffee wasn’t impossible, but it wasn’t easy either. Same thing with beans. I often had whole bean coffee shipped from roasters in other parts of the country.
Luckily, a number of roasters and coffee shops have stepped in to fill the void and make sure we don’t have to worry about finding a good cup of coffee.
Here are just a few of the must-try coffee places that have turned the city into a third wave oasis. There’s now more quality coffee options than I could fit into one article, and there are more in the works. It’s an exciting time to be in New Orleans, especially if you like drinking coffee.
Where to Get Coffee in New Orleans
Cherry Espresso Bar
What started as a small single person coffee bar in the lobby of an unassuming Magazine Street deli – Stein’s Market and Deli, is now a blossoming caffeine empire. Cherry Espresso Bar can still be found in the front of Stein’s Deli (2207 Magazine St.), but now also has a location further Uptown on Laurel Street. The new location is more spacious and has more options beyond coffee, including pastries, brunch and lunch options.
- Where: 4877 Laurel St.
- What to Order: Cold brew iced coffee
District is known for their donuts, but don’t sleep on their coffee. They focus on a variety of espresso drinks using beans from 1,000 Faces Coffee. District is so popular that they keep expanding. First with a location at the edge of the Garden District, then a second location farther Uptown. Now, they have a third location in Lakeview along Harrison Avenue. The lines can get long, but it’s worth the wait.
- Where: 2209 Magazine St.; 5637 Magazine St.; 525 Harrison Ave.
- What to Order: Latte, or the Sproca-Cola if it’s later in the day
French Truck Coffee
French Truck Coffee started as a single batch coffee roaster with delivery to residents and restaurants in the city. Today, they still roast their own coffee and do the deliveries, but now they also pour coffee at two locations in the city. The original location is on Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District; there’s another farther Uptown on Dryades Street. Both are cool, relaxing spots to sip on some coffee. The Dryades location also serves café-style food for breakfast and lunch.
- Where: 1200 Magazine St.; 4536 Dryades St.
- What to Order: Ask the barista what his or her favorite pour over is
Whether you’re looking for a coffee shop to meet a new client or catch up with an old friend, HiVolt is a solid option. It’s located in the Lower Garden District, and HiVolt serves up coffee roasted by Counter Culture Coffee, a roaster based out of North Carolina. They serve up the standard coffee and espresso options. One must-try at HiVolt is their cold pressed coffee, especially during the hot summer months. Their Uptown spinoff, HiVolt Bakery (5720 Magazine St.), also features a full coffee bar.
- Where: 1829 Sophie Wright Place
- What to Order: Cortado (espresso cut with warm milk)
Mojo Coffee Roasters
As the name implies, Mojo Coffee Roasters roasts its own coffee. Sporting two coffee house locations, Mojo is posted up on Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District as well as Freret Street. On Freret, you might even catch a “barista throwdown,” which is a competition to make the best cup of espresso (similarly, other spots in the city host a latte art competition one Thursday each month called “Thursday Night Throwdown.” Mojo baristas are regular competitors). The top pick here, in my opinion, isn’t a single drink. Instead, just buy a whole bag of beans to enjoy at home.
- Where: 1500 Magazine St.; 4700 Freret St.
- What to Order: As mentioned, get a bag of whole beans to bring home
Revelator Coffee is a recent import into the city. The regional coffee crew is from Birmingham, Alabama. They roast their coffee there and now share the love throughout the South (other locations include Nashville and Atlanta). New Orleans’ location is in the Central Business District, making it the perfect stop for anyone in town for a conference. In fact, I would go as far as to say it is a required stop before a long day at a conference. Start the morning off with their pour over coffee via a Chemex. It takes a couple of minutes, but it’s worth the wait.
- Where: 637 Tchoupitoulas St.
- What to Order: Single origin coffee brewed in the Chemex
Mammoth Espresso is the secret that I almost don’t want anyone else to know about. This is a hidden gem, and I want it all for myself. But I’ll share. They have a laid back, modern space with spots to sit with friends or stand while you enjoy your shot of espresso. Speaking of espresso, they’re currently using beans from Madcap coffee and know how to create a high-quality drink.
- Where: 821 Baronne St.
- What to Order: Choose one of their daily espresso offerings
Double Shot: Even More Coffee Spots
In addition to the spots above, here are more places to get your caffeine fix.
Rouler — This bicycle-inspired coffee shop (and bike shop) pedaled into town in May. 601 Baronne St.
Addiction — “Sourcing the best local ingredients to serve the perfect cup” is the motto at this French Quarter spot, serving up French Truck Coffee with milks and creams from Mauthe’s Progress Milk Barn. 909 Iberville St.
Prytania Hall Coffee — A teeny, tiny jewelbox spot with iced coffee, espresso drinks, and a European vibe. 3445 Prytania St.
Catahoula — This boutique hotel’s bar also serves up coffee drinks, so you unwind or caffeinate based on your preference. Try the “Little Bullet,” a chocolatey, creamy espresso confection. 914 Union St.
Stumptown Coffee — The first Stumptown in the South delights with cold brew-based drinks and a swanky atmosphere inside the Ace Hotel. 610 Carondelet St.
Arrow Cafe — Take a trip to the City by the Bay at this North Rampart Street spot that co-shares its space with Dashing Bicycles and serves Four Barrel Coffee (straight from San Francisco). 628 N. Rampart St.
Salon by Sucre — If the pastries and decor aren’t worth the trip to this Parisian-inspired spot, the Modbar espresso machine is. 622 Conti St.
Coast Roast Coffee & Tea — Inside St. Roch Market, this micro-roaster serves all the standards plus specialty drinks like the Roch Fizz, an orange-laced, iced concoction. 2381 St. Claude Ave.
Spitfire Coffee — Another pint-sized space, this time in the French Quarter. Pour overs, espressos, and more. 627 S. Peter St.
Hey! Cafe — A low-key yet hip Magazine Street spot that roasts its own beans. 4332 Magazine St.
Silver Whistle Cafe — Inside the Pontchartrain Hotel, this spot is big on charm. Sit with your cup and watch the streetcars roll past. 2031 St. Charles Ave.
La Boulangerie — The Magazine Street bakery gets a caffeinated boost from Congregation Roasters, a local coffee purveyor. 4600 Magazine St.
Solo Espresso — Low prices and pop-up food options? Solo just might be your new one and only. 1301 Poland Ave.
Church Alley — This spot moved from its Central City location to one on Canal Street in the heart of Mid-City. 4201 Canal St.
Willa Jean — A house blend and coffee cocktails are on the menu, in addition to the Milk Money Latte (the regionally sourced milk is infused with vanilla bean). 611 O’Keefe Ave.
Mike Crimmins is a coffee connoisseur with more methods of brewing coffee than any one person could ever need. A retired coffee blogger with more than five years of coffee reviewing experience, he’s tasted the good, the bad, and the ugly.