For much of its life ahead of the curve in a country that was until recently something of a coffee desert, it took tradition-bound New Orleans a good while to come to terms with the transformation of American cafe culture. These days, the city is more than making up for lost time—there’s so much new coffee in town, it can get a little overwhelming. Which entrants into this suddenly-crowded field are making the best coffee in New Orleans? Here are the five cafes you absolutely shouldn’t miss, each one working hard to transform the local culture.
Cherry Espresso Bar
Lauren Fink is easily one of the city’s best baristas. Her Lower Garden District pop-up was, for a long time, the place in New Orleans for a perfect pull. These days, Fink’s upgraded to a gorgeous place of her own, a renovated Uptown firehouse where she’s expanded offerings to include tastings and classes. 4877 Laurel Street
This closet-sized gem, tucked away behind the cathedral on St. Peter Street, brings the revolution right to the heart of the tradition-bound French Quarter. (This place is a lifesaver for guests of the Quarter’s many hotels.) All but a veteran on the scene at this point—they opened in 2013—Spitfire does a very good toddy cold brew for hot summer days, and a banging Cuban for those times you can’t wake up quickly enough. 627 St. Peter Street
Most visitors won’t end up anywhere near this terrific little hideout, steps from the Industrial Canal on a raffish block north of St. Claude Avenue—not until they figure out just how good the coffee can be, anyway. Calling in beans from one of the East Coast’s top roasters (the magnificent Panther Coffee, out of Miami), Solo’s mellow baristas execute some of the top espresso drinks in town. 1301 Poland Street
Congregation Coffee Roasters
A new cafe in Algiers Point—a quick ferry trip across the Mississippi River from the French Quarter and the outdated Café du Monde—brings Seattle know-how and New Orleans tradition together in a historic corner shop that invites lingering. (They have snacks.) Ask to try their beer, a collaboration with local brewery Urban South. 240 Pelican Avenue
Emerging over time as a social hub in an unlikely location—windswept Rampart Street, on the less-loved northern fringe of the French Quarter—you can drop by any old time for a proper cappuccino. (Look for beans from Four Barrel in San Francisco.) But this is much more than just a coffee stop. Evenings, weekends—any time, really—don’t be surprised if you encounter everything from one-act play performances to noodle bowl and pastry pop-ups. 628 North Rampart Street
Booking a trip?
If you’re looking for cheap flights to New Orleans, start your search at CheapFlights, or compare multiple sites at once with BookingBuddy. Don’t forget that bundling your flight and hotel together can save you a lot of money; give it a try at either Orbitz or Expedia—both are great places to start a simple airfare search, too. If you’re just after the best New Orleans hotel deals, start your search at Hotels.com or Priceline, where you can save up to 60 percent on any given night by taking advantage of their Express Deals feature. (This simple tool has probably saved us—no joke—thousands of dollars over the years.) Don’t forget, you can also cross-reference a ton of hotel user reviews with the best rates available from more than 200 web sites at TripAdvisor. If you need a rental car, begin your search by swinging wide to get a sense of the market—a site like Booking Buddy lets you check pretty much every site worth knowing in just a couple of clicks.