The New Orleans coffee scene has much to offer beyond chicory coffee at Cafe du Monde. Read on to discover what’s brewing in NOLA as well as the best New Orleans coffee shops for drinking flat whites, espressos and pour overs.
Any visitor to New Orleans needs to drink a chicory coffee at least once. The custom of adding chicory to coffee dates back to the Civil War, originally providing a clever solution when green coffee beans were scarce. Today, this nutty blend of chicory and coffee is a classic New Orleans beverage that pairs well with equally classic beignets.
Discover more NOLA must-eat foods and drinks.
We always order a cup of chicory café au lait when we make our obligatory visit to Cafe du Monde but, to be honest, we’re not big fans of the nutty brew. No matter where we are in the world, we prefer sipping flat whites and pour overs made with light to medium roasted third wave coffee beans.
New Orleans is no exception to this rule.
Table of Contents
- Our Favorite New Orleans Cafes for Specialty Coffee
Our Favorite New Orleans Cafes for Specialty Coffee
It should be no surprise that New Orleans has a vibrant third wave coffee scene.
As one of the best food cities in the US, NOLA’s passion for excellence shines through at the city’s best restaurants at all price points ranging from cheap eats to fine dining. But this culinary passion doesn’t stop at food. It’s also evident in cocktails served at bars throughout the city and in coffee at the best New Orleans coffee shops.
Ironically, New Orleans wasn’t an early adaptor to specialty coffee. Perhaps it was the city’s traditional, centuries-old cafe scene. Perhaps it was the history of the aforementioned chicory coffee typically served at cafes in New Orleans. Maybe it was geography. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. The coffee is great now with top notch roasters and excellent baristas working all over the city.
While we had to make a special effort to find third wave coffee back in 2016, we had the opposite problem during our most recent visit to the Big Easy. With cool cafes spread around neighborhoods throughout the city, we had to limit ourselves to avoid caffeine overload. Yes, too much coffee is problematic even for us.
After drinking copious amounts of specialty coffee for ‘research’ purposes, these are our favorite New Orleans coffee shops and the ones you shouldn’t miss:
1. Cherry Coffee Roasters
Cherry Coffee Roasters isn’t a typical New Orleans cafe. Following a farm to table concept, this coffee shop roasts its beans and sources products from local vendors like Mauthe Family Dairy in nearby Folsom, Louisiana.
Opened by Lauren Fink in 2016 after operating as a pop-up at Stein’s Market and Deli for three years, this Uptown coffee shop is proudly owned and operated by women. A former firehouse, its exposed brick walls are decorated with rotating local art.
As much as we appreciate the story behind Cherry Coffee Roasters and its unique space, it really comes down to the coffee. And Cherry’s coffee is solid.
The modern New Orleans cafe was serving washed beans from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru as well as natural beans from Colombia during our visit. However, since the baristas were making the cafe’s weekly batch of chai, a strong, spicy smell of chai dominated the sun drenched cafe.
Scents of cardamom, cinnamon, clove and ginger wafted through the air, rendering Mindi unable to order anything other than a chai latte. Daryl mustered the strength to order an excellent pour over. Drinking both drinks was an easier proposition and one that we both enjoyed.
Order a beverage flight if you want to try more than one type of coffee.
Cherry Coffee Roasters is located at 4877 Laurel Street, New Orleans, LA 70115, United States.
2. French Truck
French Truck Coffee bridges the gap between traditional chicory coffee and third wave coffee with its special blend of roasted Colombian and Brazilian beans with French chicory added after roasting. Created in collaboration with Commander’s Palace, the coffee blend is available at the iconic restaurant as well as at French Truck cafes.
But don’t rule out French Truck Coffee for specialty coffee drinks.
This New Orleans enterprise is a an OG NOLA coffee operation that opened its original cafe in the Garden District back in 2014. French Truck Coffee now has numerous cafes both in New Orleans and further afield in cities like Baton Rouge and Memphis.
You won’t have trouble finding a French Truck location in New Orleans thanks to the cafe’s yellow and blue color palette. You also won’t have trouble drinking locally roasted beans sourced from countries like Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia and Peru.
As for us, we drank a classic cappuccino at French Truck’s cafe in the French Quarter. We were tempted to buy a bag of beans to take home as an edible souvenir. Where else could we get a bag of coffee with a picture of a French truck on the bag?
French Truck Coffee’s name and logo were inspired by miniature Citroën trucks used to deliver coffee to local restaurants and markets.
French Truck Coffee has multiple locations. We visited the French Quarter cafe located at 217 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States.
3. Mojo Coffee House
The folks behind Mojo Coffee House claim that “it’s all about the coffee” but we don’t believe them.
Sure, the coffee at Mojo is great. The coffee shop has been open since 2006 and roasts its own beans. We had no issue with our flat white. In fact, it was of our favorite coffees in New Orleans.
But great coffee isn’t the only thing that Mojo offers.
To us, the best part about Mojo is its welcoming vibe that starts with the baristas and extends to the cafe’s big, airy space filled with people chilling and working on laptops. Food options like breakfast burritos and lemon scones complete the equation.
Mojo opens early in the morning and doesn’t close until late at night. We’d likely be regulars if we lived in New Orleans. Can you blame us?
Don’t skip Mojo Coffee House if you don’t drink coffee. Instead, choose from the cafe’s wide selection of tea, tea latte and lemonade drink options.
Mojo Coffee House has multiple locations. We visited the Lower Garden District cafe located at 1500 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States.
4. HiVOLT Coffee
HiVOLT Coffee was the only third wave coffee shop we visited during our 2016 swing through new Orleans. While we had good memories of our visit at the Lower Garden District cafe, we wondered what it would be like five years later. One step through the door and we realized that not much had changed.
The cafe still has a Japanese Oji drip tower just like the one we later saw at Omotesando Koffee in Tokyo. The art deco design seemed to be just as mod as we remembered and the menu remained varied with options ranging from green smoothies to cobb salads.
Not wanting to be completely repetitive during our trip down memory lane (not to be confused with the street called desire), we mixed things up by ordering a honey cayenne latte. Simultaneously sweet and spicy, the potent coffee drink gave us the caffeine jolt we needed as well as the flavor kick we craved.
HiVOLT offers soy, oat, almond and macadamia milk substitutes for a small surcharge.
HiVOLT Coffee is located at 1829 Sophie Wright Place, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States.
5. Backatown Coffee Parlour
Backatown Coffee Parlour stands out from the pack as the only black-owned coffee shop in our guide. It’s also the only coffee shop located in Storyville and the only coffee shop that serves both sweet potato pie and crawfish quiche.
We wish we loved the cafe’s coffee, which was over-roasted, as much as we loved our sweet potato scone. However, we still recommend this cafe for its tasty treats and convivial atmosphere.
Located between the French Quarter and Tremé, this comfortable cafe has a friendly, vaulted space and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating ideal for relaxing with friends or pulling out a laptop. Free Wi-Fi and jazz music are icing on the cake. Speaking of cake, Backatown Coffee Parlour serves that too.
Stop by Backatown Coffee Parlour before or after you tour St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. The two destinations are just a block apart.
Backatown Coffee Parlour is located at 301 Basin Street, New Orleans, LA 70112, United States.
6. Mammoth Espresso
Mammoth Espresso takes coffee seriously. And it all starts with the owner.
A barista before he opened Mammoth Espresso in 2016, Jonathan Riethmaier remains passionate about coffee to this day. Not only does his shop’s mission statement include “creating the best espresso, coffee and tea that we can” but he’s also adding roasting to Mammoth’s repertoire.
For now, expect to drink coffee brewed with Madcap Coffee beans at this Warehouse District cafe. You can also expect “meticulously crafted espresso” according to the cafe’s website. We experienced both during our visit.
Creatures of habit, we drank flat whites at Mammoth. However, the cafe offers much more including a tea menu, selected New Orleans desserts and signature drinks.
Be bold and try one of Mammoth Espresso’s signature drinks. Options include Sweet Little Thing, Metairie Mule, Golden Latte, Cardamom Latte and Espresso Tonic.
Mammoth Espresso is located at 821 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70113, United States.
7. Hey! Cafe
Hey! Cafe is still on the move after more than a decade serving and roasting specialty coffee in New Orleans.
Originally an Uptown cafe on Magazine Street when it opened in 2009, Hey! Cafe later opened a roastery on Annunciation Street. We visited the Hey! Cafe pop-up shop next to Tipitina’s that temporarily replaced the Magazine Street location after it lost its lease.
Now, the whole operation is located on the Lafitte Greenway bikeway. Phew!
During our visit to Hey! Cafe’s pop-up, we killed two birds with one stone. Not only did we drink excellent flat whites in paper cups, but we also paid homage to some of NOLA’s greatest musicians on Tipitina’s Walk of Fame.
Stop by and say “hey” if you’re near Hey! Cafe. We suspect that friendly baristas will say “hey” back.
Hey! Cafe is located at 2606 St Louis Street, New Orleans, LA 70119, United States. We visited the Tipitina’s pop-up location..
8. Spitfire Coffee
Did we mention that New Orleans is one of the country’s most sultry cities? And by sultry, we mean hot and humid. While our hair adores this weather, it makes us thirsty.
Spitfire Coffee, a tiny French quarter cafe which has fiercely served specialty coffee since 2013, is a great spot to quench the inevitable thirst that develops while food tripping in New Orleans. While we like to cool down with cold brews, we won’t judge if you order a hot Cuban cortado with espresso, dark Muscovado sugar and milk instead.
9. Congregation Coffee Roasters
Located on Algiers Point in a former corner store called Lafitte’s, Congregation Coffee Roasters is a destination for truly coffee obsessed travelers. A field trip to this New Orleans coffee house involves taking a seven-minute ferry ride across the Mississippi River.
With both the time and motivation for the journey, our reward was flat whites served in alligator-embellished go-cups. Since Congregation Coffee Roasters got its name from the word used to describe a group of gators, the cups made sense. More importantly, the freshly roasted coffee fueled us for the short return ride.
We understand that not everybody has the time and motivation to make the short journey across the Mighty Mississippi and that’s okay. Congregation’s beans are available for purchase at spots like Cochon Butcher and Whole Foods. Its coffee is also served at top New Orleans restaurants like Brennan’s and Herbsaint as well as at many of the city’s best bars.
Check the cafe’s website for updated information about pop-up brunches before you decide which day to make the journey. If you’re lucky, your visit will coincide with a roasting day.
Operated by New Orleans’ Regional Transit Authority, the ferry to Algiers Island cost $2 at the time of our visit.
Congregation Coffee Roasters is located at 240 Pelican Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70114, United States.
10. Pond Coffee
While asking New Orleans baristas for recommendations related to the best coffee in New Orleans, one coffee shop was mentioned again and again. That coffee shop was Pond Coffee.
Opened by two baristas in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, Pond Coffee operates as a pop-up cafe located inside Small Mart, a deli in the Bywater, our favorite New Orleans neighborhood. Between its prime location and the multiple recommendations, our visit was inevitable.
As an independent coffee shop, Pond Coffee doesn’t roast its own beans. We spotted bags from two Louisiana roasters, Pretty Coffee Roasting and Exile Coffee Roasters during our visit. We also spotted a succinct menu featuring all of the typical drinks served at specialty coffee shops around the world but with a milky twist.
Pond Coffee exclusively uses oat milk when crafting its coffee drinks. Based on our excellent iced lavender latte and equally excellent cappuccino, we approve.
11. District Donuts Sliders Brew
District Donuts Sliders Brew is an anomaly.
Not only does the Lower Garden District spot serve some of the best donuts in America, but it also roasts its own specialty coffee. Could there be a better breakfast combination? We think not.
Brew options run the gamut from typical cappuccinos and flat whites to lattes flavored with lavender, caramel, mocha and vanilla beans. District also sells growlers filled with cold brew coffee.
Roasting under the Cool Kids Coffee Roasters moniker, the donut shop doubles as an artisan producer. The company’s roasting goal is to find each bean’s sweet spot, an approach that reminds us of cooking steak to à point doneness, but this isn’t the company’s only coffee goal.
The other goal involves making the community better. To do this, District donates $1 to local nonprofits for each bag of beans that it sells.
Substitute sliders for donuts if you visit District Donuts Sliders Brew in the afternoon. Options include cheeseburgers, fried chicken and pork belly. You can order a donut for dessert if you have a sweet tooth.
District Donuts Sliders Brew has multiple locations. We visited the Lower Garden District cafe located at 5637 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115, United States.
Additional New Orleans Coffee Shops
Eleven specialty coffee shops may not be enough for true coffee fanatics. Check out the following additional candidates for the best coffee shops in New Orleans if you fit into this category:
Where to Stay in New Orleans
Staying at a comfortable, convenient hotel is a must in New Orleans. During our most recent visit, we stayed in the following two hotels that met these criteria:
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
We thank Visit New Orleans and its partners for their assistance to facilitate this and other articles.
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.
Original Publication Date: August 6, 2021