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11/04/2010 New Orleans Celebrate Coffee, By Colleen Rush

New Orleans is a city with a coffee culture as rich and steeped in history as its indigenous Creole cuisine. As a French-influenced port city closest to the coffee-growing regions of Central America, New Orleans was once the gateway for coffee in the United States. Roughly one-third of the country’s coffee imports pass through the city today.

This city throws a party for everything from Creole tomatoes to oysters, and it’s only natural to add a coffee fete to the year-round festival schedule. On Saturday, November 6, the Freret Market (Freret Street/Napoleon Avenue) will host the 2nd New Orleans Coffee Festival from noon to 5 p.m. A lineup of New Orleans coffeehouses and local roasters will conduct a cupping flight of 35 coffees (a tasting of up to four brews for $5) and discuss all things java, from the history of coffee in New Orleans to roasting and blending to latte art.

In honor of the festival, we asked David Lummis, author of The Coffee Shop Chronicles of New Orleans (River House, 2010) and an upcoming guidebook to New Orleans coffeehouses, to share his quintessential coffeehouse picks.

CC’s Community Coffee House on Royal (941 Royal Street) “This is where I started writing my book. ‘Sitting in CC’s’ is the first line. I like the quirky staff and you couldn’t ask for a better location smack dab in the middle of the French Quarter. Community Coffee is a famous coffee brand in New Orleans, and they were one of the first local coffees to tap into the new coffeehouse culture here in the 90s. I always order a grande double cappuccino.”

The first CC’s, opened in 1995, is located on the corner of Jefferson Ave. and Magazine Street. Café du Monde (800 Decatur Street) “It’s the oldest continuously operating coffee stand in the country. The café au lait and beignets are spectacular. People think going to Café du Monde is tourist-y, and it is, but it’s also very local – it’s a great mix. It’s open 24 hours. There’s something powerful about it, sitting there, drinking the coffee and eating beignets in a place with so much history.” Café du Monde opened in 1862. It is open 24 hours, 7 days a week and only closes on Christmas Day (“and on the day an occasional hurricane passes too close to New Orleans”, according to the company’s website.)

Café Rose Nicaud (632 Frenchmen Street) “If you want to get away from the tourist traffic, this place is very local. All the warmth and neighborhood feel of the Marigny is in that place. I also love the history of the name. Rose Nicaud was a Creole slave who bought her freedom by selling coffee in the French Market in the early 1800s.”

Women who made their living by selling coffee, pralines and calas (rice fritters) in the French Market were called Les Vendeuses (“the shopgirls”).

Rue de La Course (3121 Magazine Street) “This is another New Orleans-owned and operated coffeehouse. I love the location. The whole area is hopping right now with the university crowd and new restaurants and shops. It’s a huge space, very open-air. For a tourist doing Magazine Street, it’s a great pit-stop where you can relax and get a laidback coffeehouse experience.” PJs Coffee (644 Camp Street) “PJs was founded by Phyllis Jordan in the early 80s, which pre-dates the whole coffeehouse boom. They roast their own coffee beans locally. I like the iced coffee because they brew it by their own cold water process—it’s not just espresso poured over ice.” PJs operates 55 company and franchise locations in the southeast United States.


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