Try the Best Coffee in the French Quarter and Nearby
Beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde by Selena N. B. H. on flickr
As befits one of the most European and Caribbean cities in the country, New Orleans loves coffee. This city was sipping on the stuff long before it became popular across the rest of the USA, and some of our oldest cafes remain destinations in and of themselves. Of course, there are some modern coffee houses here as well that you don’t want to pass up. Here are a few of our favorites.
In the French Quarter
New Orleans can be a romantic place for a cup of coffee, but there are parts of the French Quarter where the balconies and street music make for pure caffeinated magic.
628 N Rampart St.
Arrow is more than a coffee shop, though they do an excellent job making delicious espresso drinks with Four Barrel coffee. It also features lunchtime popups and sells locally grown flowers. The cafe shares the space with Dashing Bicycles and Accessories in a storefront across from Louis Armstrong Park.
334 Royal St.
There’s plenty of ridiculous debate over who serves the better beignet, Cafe du Monde or Cafe Beignet (just have both and decide for yourself), but when it comes to venue, it’s hard not to make the case for the Royal St. location of Cafe Beignet. It’s shady, relatively quiet, and you can get some excellent people-watching in.
Cafe du Monde
800 Decatur St.
What, you thought we’d let you go without recommending one of the world’s most iconic cafes? If we’re being brutally honest, the lines here can be a little much when they stretch almost a city block, but the chicory coffee and beignets are truly excellent, there’s live music all around, and the service is efficient.
1241 Decatur Street
The people-watching at Cafe Envie is some of the best in the city, and that’s saying something. Pull up a chair at an outdoor table, order a coffee drink (or a drink drink, or both; Envie has good cocktails and can do an excellent Irish coffee), and just watch life in the Quarter: musicians, lovers, poets, rowdy folks on a weekend trip, and everyone in between.
627 St Peter Street
This little closet of a coffee stand produces what is probably the best coffee in the Quarter. They use small-batch roasters and do excellent pour-over coffee, but they can also whip out a classic slate of espresso drinks that should impress any coffee lover.
Outside of the French Quarter
Many of the best coffee shops in New Orleans are located within easy walking or biking distance from the French Quarter. Here are some of our picks.
HEY! Coffee Co.
2606 St. Louis St. (Tremé)
The Uptown favorite HEY! Café & Coffee Roastery recently expanded to the edge of Tremé, right on the Lafitte Greenway bike path and park, also moving all roasting to the new location. HEY’s progressive stance is manifested in such touches as the eco-friendly pasta, not plastic, straws — and the coffee speaks for itself.
Flora Gallery & Cafe
2600 Royal St. (Marigny)
The atmosphere can’t be beat. The overgrown lushness of the outside trees, fading paint and cracked walls are like the Platonic ideal of the sort of space where you’d expect to find a local musician or writer.
2339 Royal St. (Marigny)
This spare, minimalist cafe is nonetheless populated with warm, inviting staff. The coffee is made with care and attention, and the menu is more creative than your average espresso outpost; mochi ice cream sits aside a delicate, moist tea bread that makes for a fairly perfect light lunch. This is also a popular spot for those looking to get some work done or just to enjoy the wi-fi.
Who Dat Coffee Cafe
2401 Burgundy St. (Marigny)
While there’s not a ton of space to bust out a laptop and be all professional in this little Marigny cafe, if you can score a comfy seat in the little alcove room, you’ve got one of the best little workspaces in New Orleans (or if you’re in a group, an excellent spot for a caffeine-fueled discussion). Bonus: the attached restaurant is pretty excellent; try the corn cakes.
2381 St. Claude Ave. (Bywater)
Located within the St. Roch Market, Coast Roast produces some fine pour-over coffee and espresso drinks. With all of that said, our personal addiction is the frozen coffee, which is quite simply the best frozen coffee we’ve had anywhere, full stop. That sort of superlative statement gets thrown around a lot in these sorts of articles, but we really will stand by this assertion: Coast Roast frozen coffee is sweet, strong and stupendous. It’s good whatever the external climate is, but on hot, humid days (which, let’s be honest, aren’t unheard of in New Orleans), it’s seriously heaven in a cup.
3218 Dauphine St. (Bywater)
Whether the owners like it or not, Satsuma is one of the most recognizable icons of the “new” Bywater, which is ironic, as old neighborhood locals and transplants alike tend to congregate here. That’s because Satsuma is simply a lovely place: they’ve got good coffee, excellent breakfast and lunch food, a pretty outdoor courtyard, a cool, airy interior, and they’re totally family-friendly. Bring the kids, and don’t leave without trying the quiche of the day.
1301 Poland Ave. (Bywater)
An argument over who makes the best coffee in New Orleans will spark long debates and drawn out discussions, but you’ll always at least get a nod of respect for recommending Solo Espresso. Located at the edge of the Bywater, this is a tiny shop — seriously, there are just two long tables and a cozy chair — that specializes in pour-over, ethically sourced, sustainable coffee and espresso drinks that are simply out of this world. If you worship at the temple of coffee bean, this is a can’t-miss stop in the Crescent City.
410 S. Broad St. (Mid-City)
The business’ motto is: “We’ll brew with science, you enjoy the coffee!” The fact that Coffee Science is helmed by Tom Oliver, who’s been in the coffee business for over 30 years, truly backs it up. The space is generous, there are weekend flower popups from a local vendor, special events are held in the big backyard, and the wi-fi is strong. Coffee Science is located on a busy thoroughfare near the courthouse complex at Tulane and Broad, and there’s plenty of parking.
3133 Ponce De Leon St. (Mid-City/Bayou St. John)
Surely one of the best independent coffee shops in a city that has its share of the genre, Fair Grinds has two locations. The Faubourg St. John/Mid-City location referenced above is super cute, the owners are lovely, and it’s plunked in of the most attractive parts of the city just off of Esplanade Avenue. There’s another location on St. Claude Avenue, in the Marigny, that arguably isn’t as work- and hangout-friendly, but it’s still an awesome space, a bit more oriented towards activism and art creation. If you’re looking for organic and ethically sourced coffee, this is a good shop to start in.