Four coffee shops to visit within walkable distance from Canal Street
Nearly a year ago, Cathlin and I braced for the longest haul of our travels: we flew from New Zealand to New Orleans to attend a cousin’s wedding. Although we did our best to load up on new baby books in Auckland, I can’t say we were all too sure what to expect for our own sleep and comfort — let alone for our then-14-month-old daughter. But somehow Eliza played, ate, giggled, and, yes, slept (!) much of the way as we backtracked to Melbourne, continued onward to Los Angeles, and eventually landed, still intact, in Louisiana. As if the mere 39 hours of travel time weren’t enough, we were welcomed by a 17-hour timezone change. This, of course, required coffee.
Lucky for me, those early morning coffee excursions meant long walks carrying Eliza around such a captivating (and often sweltering) city in her BabyBjörn. Now, as I return to New Orleans for the 2019 Online News Association conference (solo and after a much shorter trip, this time from Providence, Rhode Island), I have a few local favorites to fit into my schedule of events:
This snug espresso bar has a few stools along the wall if you’d like to sit a while, but it’s ideally positioned in the heart of the French Quarter for a quick takeaway. Rotating through various craft roasters throughout the year, Spitfire was serving Cirque (Oklahoma) when I popped in for a cappuccino. They also offered roasts from Onyx (Arkansas) and Sweet Bloom (Colorado). If you’re hoping to get an early start, the only downside here is its 8 a.m. opening. But only a block from Jackson Square and no more than 10 minutes from the hotels lining Canal Street, the location couldn’t be better if you’re looking to step away for a quick yet tasty pick-me-up.
Almost in the shadow of the Superdome, on the west side of New Orleans’s Warehouse District, Mammoth is a good 15-minute walk from Canal Street. As a result, it’s better suited for an early start than a midday escape, and decent seating makes it ideal for some work or a chance to read a while rather than to rush. When we visited last year, Eliza was especially glad we made it in time for the limited selection of breakfast burritos. (She cried when we finished. Like father, like daughter!) I heard rumblings that Mammoth currently is working with Madcap Coffee, a family favorite of ours from Grand Rapids, Michigan, so I’ll certainly be making another pilgrimage.
If you’re tempted to spend a lunch break (or longer) at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art or the National WWII Museum, detour by this New Orleans post of the Birmingham, Alabama roaster. (Revelator now also has a stand inside the Contemporary Art Center, but its daytime hours are less conference-friendly.) The long and narrow space has a feel that’s at once both minimalist and expansive, with ample table and bar seating but just as easy to grab and go.
For anybody staying at the Ace Hotel, you won’t have to look any further than downstairs for your very own Stumptown in the lobby. Yes, it’s a bit of a scene. But the design is bright, open, and downright lovely — teal paint set against exposed brick and wood paneling. A cozy alcove at the back and a few seats toward the front allows the kind of space that’s perfect for having a proper sit-down chat or if you just want to hole up alone with a newspaper or your digital equivalent. And as much as I’m a fan of hot coffees, here you’ll find several cold brews on tap.
I still need to make my way to any of the French Truck locations, which seem to be something of a local institution. Although they have eight branches throughout the city, two are within easy walking distance from the conference: at 217 Chartres St. and at 650 Poydras St. Otherwise, I’m also keen to try HiVolt (1829 Sophie Wright Place), Sólo (1301 Poland Ave.), and Congregation (240 Pelican Ave.), but they’re all harder to reach.
And judging from the ONA19 tweets about meetings over beignets, handshakes after beignets, and the lack of a beignet emoji, I don’t think I’ll be only one stepping out for a plate of dough pillows accompanied by a dark roast mixed with chicory root. Last year, Cathlin and I brought Eliza along as we experienced Cafe du Monde during regular (i.e., absolutely busy), not-as-jetlagged hours, and I think we all left with more powdered sugar on us than in us. So, if anybody else is interested in accompanying, this time around I’ll be enjoying a few nibbles without needing to worry about a timezone switcheroo and any sweet residue dusting the top of Eliza’s head as I carry her.