By Hadi Ktiri
November 11, 2014
Courtesy of Spitfire

A coffee shop is more than just great java. It’s ambience, personality, a place to meet friends and, if you’re a traveler, perhaps write some postcards to friends and family back home. In New Orleans, coffee is one of the few non-alcoholic beverages that we drink regularly. Of course, we have the obligatory Starbucks scattered throughout town, and there is also a great local coffee chain here called PJ’s Coffee. But I think a list of the best coffee shops needs to feature original cafes that pay careful attention to quality and consistency. These places all have fantastic coffee, served by great baristas, in very interesting and inspiring spaces. Coffee needn't be a rushed experience. In a city where everything takes time, these coffee shops will help you press pause when you need it the most. That is, unless you need to press fast-forward, in which case a double cortado should do the trick nicely.

Spitfire Coffee

A relative newcomer to the New Orleans coffee scene, this third-wave coffee shop makes a hell of an espresso. It’s not the biggest space, so you might not be able to relax here, but if it’s hot out, grab one of their fantastic iced-coffees and take it to go.

Arrow Café

When Jane Srisarakorn opened this espresso bar this year, many third-wave coffee fans rejoiced. She serves Four Barrel Coffee from San Francisco and pulls it with an attention to detail that rivals most cocktail bartenders. But here’s the best part: Jane is also one of the friendliest baristas you’ll ever meet.

Zotz Café

This uptown coffee shop is the epitome of geek-funk cafés: At any given time, you can find people studying, playing the board-game mancala, or reading Hemingway. They also have a great selection of loose-leaf teas and are more than happy to blend them any way you like.

HiVolt Coffee

Benji Lee, owner of the notorious dive bar “The Saint,” runs this fantastic coffee shop. They serve vegetarian fare as well as an expertly prepared espresso, so it’s kind of a one-stop shop. They are also one of the few great espresso bars in the city equipped to deal with relatively high volume, so the wait for a coffee is pleasantly short.

Church Alley Café

This Central City shop prides itself on grinding and pouring each cup of coffee to order, so that you will never have to taste burnt or old coffee ever again. If you’re not in the mood for coffee, they also have a delicious hot mint tea made with mint leaves picked from their garden out back.