We really do love New Orleans. The food, the people, the lingo, the architecture, and long afternoons letting it all hang out poolside at the Country Club…what’s not to love? The cuisine alone reads like Western Civ primer, drawing influences from France, Spain, the Caribbean, French-Canadian Acadian settlers, Italy, and increasingly in recent times, the rest of the United States, especially New York City. Funny, then, that coffee’s history in New Orleans seems to draw only from the French chicory tradition. One of the recurring stories we heard throughout our time in NOLA went something like this: “Oh, chicory coffee…I remember, my grandma (or my spouses grandma, or my friend’s grandma) boiling up pots of chicory coffee on the stove, just like she’d been doing for 50 years”. Chicory coffee is here to stay in New Orleans, and that’s not at all a bad thing. Coming to New Orleans and ignoring chicory would be like, well, coming to New Orleans and not eating a po’boy, or coming to New Orleans and not having a Sazerac. It’s as much a part of the landscape as the hanging gardens in the Quarter, or the ramshackle charm of the Bywater, or the little trolley cars put-putting their way up St. Charles…
But like the food, like the slang patois that draws on so many linguistic influences, the social climate of this city offers ample opportunity to change and grow, to gumbo up together make something delicious. This is a roundabout way of saying: New Orleans has miles of room to grow when it comes to high-end boutique coffee. There are really talented members of the coffee community here who are begging, literally begging for outside influence, from companies with progressive and direct sourcing practices, and open up a really high quality roasting operation in the Crescent City. Think about it: You’re right on a major port, you’d be the first national operation of its kind to open and roast in the city, the rent is astonishingly cheap, there’s tons and tons of foodies here already who are primed to become coffee nerds, and best of all, you would actually get to live in New Orleans.
This is a soft, subtle, Southern Gentlemanly call to arms: Pay attention to New Orleans. Visit here. Consider investing in the coffee community here – write to us, we’ll put you in touch with some amazing people. This place is a powderkeg, like a goldrush before anyone else has heard the cry “eureka!”, just begging and pleading for growth, new influences and new ingredients.
But what’s here right now is sure special. We sincerely want to thank everyone who guided and hosted us during our time in New Orleans: Tamara and the gang at Velvet, Tommy and his crew at Orleans Coffee Exchange, the fine people at Sucre in Metarie, Antoine’s Annex and Envie in the Quarter, and our 3am beleaguered waitress in a paper hat at Cafe Du Monde. Most of all, we want to thank Anderson Stockdale, for her kindness, hospitality and insight as we explored coffee (and cocktails!) throughout the Crescent City. In a city with such a remarkable past, she’s the future of coffee in New Orleans, and a true friend.
This concludes our coverage of #NOLAWeek! Stay tuned for SprudgeGuides from new cities around the world. St. Louis? Cape Town? Dublin? We’d love to explore your city.