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New Orleans Coffee

New Orleans Coffee and Culture

8 minutes
Famous for its unique Café au Lait, roasted chicory root coffee as well as its pastries, New Orleans, also known as the Crescent City, has long served a strong reputation for its coffee. For many reasons, including is very heavy French influence, New Orleans remains the perfect destination for tourists and locals to enjoy a good cup of coffee. In recent years, New Orleans has also become home to a number of speciality coffee shops and micro roasters. While the city’s coffee traditions remain popular, there is evidence that the city’s coffee culture is open to change.


With a whole new generation that is aiming to ring the changes in coffee culture and coffee experiences, is the Crescent City really one for the coffee lovers bucket list? Read on to find out.

History of New Orleans Coffee


The port of New Orleans grew from an expatriate supply depot to the second largest port in the country United States, and to the fourth largest in the world, this was all during the 1840s.


Centuries-old worth of practices were brought over to New Orleans with the European explorers and traders. New Orleans began receiving its first cargos of green coffee beans from Cuba and other Caribbean Islands, in the eighteenth century, during the rise of its depot. As the city and their coffee identity grew, more coffee arrived from the Caribbean and South America. Around 241,000 tons of green coffee, 27.8% of the coffee that entered the United States in 1995, came into New Orleans.


The Civil War impact on the port of New Orleans was catastrophic. With New Orleans coffee shipments coming to a halt, they had to come up with a plan to keep going. They started mixing things into their coffee to stretch out the supply they had remaining. One of these being chicory.


While chicory alone cannot provide a caffeine buzz, the chicory grounds taste similar and can be sold at a lower rate, this was the birth of the roasted chicory root coffee that is famous to New Orleans. The chicory blend was embraced for the mellow caramel undertones and smooth texture it added to coffee. Now a deep routed tradition in the city’s culture, locals and tourists alike enjoy the unique and delicious blend of New Orleans chicory coffee.



New Orleans Coffee Culture


There are many multifaceted and varied coffee traditions of New Orleans, which derive from the city’s status as a maritime trading hub. Traditionally, in New Orleans the dark roast coffee has been suggested as the most popular coffee of choice. It is especially popular in the city as part of the classic New Orleans Café au Lait.


Older, more traditional coffee shops will likely serve a unique style of the Café au Lait. A classic chicory coffee recipe is with espresso, milk, and chicory. Roasted chicory root is bittersweet, and pairs well with dark roasted coffee.

Café Du Monde

The 150-year-old coffee shop is a great spot to enjoy a traditional Café au Lait with chicory. Like many other classic New Orleans coffee spots, Café Du Monde also sells beignets. These are square, fluffy donuts doused with powdered sugar, and they make a perfect sweet pairing with the traditional Café au Lait.


In 1862, the original Café Du Monde coffee stand was established. The coffee stand was recognised in the New Orleans French market. In 1988, iced coffee and soft drinks were introduced to the café. The Café is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week, closing only on Christmas Day or in preparation for an unwelcomed storm. The Café Du Monde remains an important part of New Orleans local culture, as new locations have spread further from the city into the suburban areas to reach new audiences.
Café Du Monde

Micro Roasters & Modern New Orleans Coffee Culture

As with many other coffee consuming cities, specialty coffee shops and speciality roasters have started to emerge across New Orleans in recent years. The latest wave of coffee shop owners are now embracing a different kind of coffee culture. These coffee shops are also known as micro-roasters.


These are speciality coffee shops that are in favour of political accuracy and social justice. Though many of these newer cafés are seemingly centralised in the French Quarter, they are rapidly expanding throughout New Orleans.


This younger generation of coffee shops are now featuring medium roast blended coffee beans that come from ethical coffee bean farmers. New Orleans has long been noticed as living life a lot different than most people do, yet this might be a whole new sign of the times.
Crowded street in New Orleans

Roasted Chicory Root Coffee

Unlike coffee being made from the coffee beans; chicory coffee is made from the roots of the flowering chicory plant. This blue flowered plant is a part of the dandelion family and can be found in several parts of the world. Resembling coffee, chicory can be roasted, grounded, and brewed while maintaining a bitter but woody and nutty coffee-like taste.


Following previous French practices, New Orleans locals turned to chicory to help satisfy their coffee cravings. Due to chicory being used multifariously, locals could drink it on its own or mix it in with their coffee as a flavouring.


Today, chicory serves as a decaf alternative to coffee and can still be found mixed in various hot drinks throughout New Orleans.
Chicory root coffee

New Orleans Café Noir

Sometime during the city’s early growth, the cafe noir, or also known as New Orleans black coffee, was born. This is no regular coffee,coffee; it has a distinctive taste which comes from using chicory. Traditionally, chicory is blended with coffee in a 60-40 chicory to coffee ratio, and that’s essentially what Cafe Noir is. For today’s recipe, you can either mix your own ground chicory with your favourite French roast coffee or source a premixed chicory-coffee blend.


Another French tradition to remember when making your own café noir, is to use vanilla sugar instead of usual sugar. The sweetness in the vanilla compliments the tones of the chicory beautifully, without overpowering the senses.
Cup of black coffee and ground chicory
It’s safe to say that people will always want to enjoy a beignet with a chicory Café au Lait in the French Quarter. These are rich, historic parts of New Orleans’ coffee culture, and it seems they’re here to stay. New Orleans is steeped in centuries old coffee traditions, as well as new and modern traditions, which means that there is something for every kind of coffee drinker to enjoy, no matter their preferences.


That’s our little trip around the world to New Orleans complete, hopefully this article has given you some inspiration for your next coffee influenced trip. Want to continue travelling around the world with coffee? Why not read our article on Australian coffee next?


That’s our guide on Ethiopian coffee and the fascinating culture that comes with it! If you want to continue your journey around the coffee hotspots of the world, then why not read our guide on Colombian coffee next.