First things first: I probably don’t look for the same things in a coffee shop as you do.
That’s why this post is called “5 Favorite Coffee Shops” instead of “5 Best,” because who am I to incite the wrath of all you java-guzzling hipsters by claiming these five spots as the best?
I basically live at coffee shops, because I work from them. Ergo, my criteria for “kickass place to drink coffee” include:
Couches. The more, the better.
A relaxed purchase policy. No, I’m not going to buy one coffee and camp out all day — but I also can’t buy something every hour, because Jesus Christ I might as well rent an office ya heard.
Good coffee. Duh.
Good music. YMMV.
Snoblessness. If I need to be wearing a blazer and heels to be there, I’m not going to be there.
So without further ado, here is my highly biased list of the Best Coffee Shops in New Orleans, in the neighborhoods where I most often find myself.
UPTOWN — Z’OTZ CAFÉ
Okay, so maybe it’s just because I’ve been coming to this grungy Oak Street coffee spot since long before I drank coffee (or had a driver’s license), but I love Z’otz.
This place is half neighborhood joe station, half Island of Misfit Toys. You can usually find me on the red couch, which is actually a car seat, wearing pajamas and a scowl.
PROS: Fair-trade coffee. Come-as-you-are environment. Awesome skeleton mural. Art-y photos of lesbian Barbies discovering each other.
CONS: No matter how often they clean it (and they do), the restroom always smells like it’s just been hosed down with bodily fluids.
MARIGNY — THE ORANGE COUCH
I was a little nervous coming to this trendy Marigny spot for the first time. But from the moment the guy in front of me bought my coffee, I was sold.
The Orange Couch is pretty small, but offers a good selection of specialty coffee drinks and pastries. They also have mochi, which I can’t really see myself eating at a coffee shop, but don’t let that stop you, party animal!
Since everything inside the shop is white (except for, you guessed it, the orange couch), it’s fairly bright. My table was so wobbly I thought it was going to collapse on me. However, I didn’t say anything, so clearly I am part of a systemic problem.
The iced coffee was awesome — rich and kind of nutty. Plus it was free. Fuck yeah, Orange Couch.
PROS: Pretty, airy atmosphere. Tasty coffee. Nice customers. Cute neighborhood.
CONS: Wobbly table. Broken restroom (which happened while I was there, and caused me to leave because my bladder is the size of a doll thimble).
CENTRAL CITY — CHURCH ALLEY COFFEE BAR
The new Church Alley, inside the building that houses the Zeitgeist Theater, is just as boss if not boss-er than its former space down the street.
There’s lots of space to sit and work, with big front-facing windows that let in the light and occasional Oretha Castle Haley foot traffic. There’s also a shady little alcove with a day bed (possibly a modified crib) where I like to sit, because I’m a vampire.
I wish my apartment were decorated like Church Alley, but it’s not. My house also lacks an espresso machine, so I find myself here with increasing regularity.
PROS: Beautiful space. Eminently sippable lattes. Fresh-pressed juices! Consistently killer soundtrack, assuming you like indie rock/pop and you’re not, like, a total mainstream sellout, you know?
CONS: Day bed/crib is pretty hard to get comfortable on unless you are an actual baby.
MARIGNY — WHO DAT COFFEE CAFÉ
Some genius at the Who Dat came up with the idea of combining coffee and alcohol, and though the scientist-mom side of me protests the idea of drinking a stimulant and a depressant simultaneously, the reckless Hemingway side of me puts the shotgun in my mouth and pulls the trigger totally loves it.
Their specialty coffee cocktails include the Green-Eyed Girl, which I love because — spoiler — I have green eyes. I can’t remember what’s in it, because I’m always drunk two sips in.
Did I mention that this place also serves a full menu of breakfast/brunch dishes, sandwiches, soups, and salads? I have yet to eat here (except for several of their limitless Laurel Street Bakery pastry selections), but I’ve seen the food and can confirm it looks 100% nommable.
PROS: Alcohol, food, super-friendly baristas and owners. “Big Girl” mimosas and Bloody Marys, ALL DAY ERRY DAY.
CONS: Limited indoor seating.
MARIGNY — BYRDIE’S
Full disclosure: I know one of the owners of Byrdie’s. Fuller disclosure: He makes great sandwiches. Even fuller disclosure: He makes the bread to make those sandwiches. I don’t even brew my own coffee half the time, so that is some seriously intrepid shit.
Byrdie’s is the spot to go if you have some work to get done, you like sandwiches and art, and you might also like to learn how to throw pots. By that, I mean that half of the shop is a gallery space, and there’s a ceramics studio in the back where you can take pottery classes with a real, live potter (the co-owner!).
PROS: Noms, slurps, arts.
CONS: Last time, I showed up at 9AM and it was closed, because their Google Places listing hasn’t been updated, which is not their fault, which is how I ended up at Orange Couch. However, the times on the website are still wrong as of this posting, which is their fault.
Disagree with my picks? Need to enlighten me as to your favorite coffee spots? Frequent one of the above-mentioned shops and feel that I’ve horribly misrepresented it? (Relax, troll, I said I liked it.)
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The Rook Café, HEY! Café, Dee’s Coffee, Tasseology, Saint Coffee, Velvet, The Neutral Ground