Déjà Brew: Café du Monde


For generations, coffee has been a cornerstone in everyday life whether it be a part of your morning routine or an afternoon treat with a friend.

Some may not know this, but the coffee industry requires time, work, and dedication of many creative people who work to bring a simple bean to a perfectly-crafted beverage.

Flavors and techniques are combined masterfully to produce a product that only some will think twice about before consuming.

We tend to overlook the art of coffee, the hours spent creating a new brew and polishing it for the coffee shop.

Different styles of coffee tell the stories of different places, cultures and people. Learning about what is in your cup will most certainly astonish you.

However, most of these hidden stories remain just that, which is why I created this review column: to uncover secret gems in our society, in hopes of extending a story that not only entertains, but also challenges you to look beyond your neighborhood and deeper into the heart of what connects us all.

In the heart of the New Orleans French Quarter, there lies a simple but popular coffee shop that attracts people from all parts of the world, each of them eager to try the world-renowned French cuisine for themselves.

The building is set on the edge of the New Orleans French Market, only a few steps away from the Mississippi River. Outside of the establishment is a line of people going down the block, each waiting for their seat at one of the crowded tables.

Through the mix of tourists and local customers, you can just make out a few figures dressed in white uniforms, bussing around endless trays of coffee and beignets. The smell of freshly-brewed café au lait mixed with cheerful conversation fills the entire restaurant and spills into the streets.

This is Café du Monde, the heart and soul of authentic New Orleans coffee.  

Café du Monde was officially established in 1862 after the French had been settled in New Orleans for over a century.

The French first introduced coffee to New Orleans in the 18th century, but it wasn’t until they were intermingled with the natives that they first created what would become their signature beverage. The natives used chicory, the roots of endive plants, as a medicinal herb to lower heart rates and cholesterol levels.

When roasted, chicory becomes the perfect ingredient to smooth the bite of the French roast coffee. It also counteracts the harsh effect of caffeine on your body and will provide a more relaxed feeling, opposed to the nausea and shakiness that some people feel after drinking coffee.

The perfect delicacy to pair with a cup of coffee can only be the French donut, the beignet.

In the back of the kitchen, bakers are working tirelessly to make thousands of the famed New Orleans treat. The dough is kneaded, patted and rolled onto a giant cutting board. The squares of dough  are tossed into the giant pans of oil where they are fried into golden bliss.

An assembly line of workers are ready to serve, plates and powdered sugar in hand. The orders are never ending and the workers never fail to deliver.

Open 24 hours a day, Café du Monde remains one of the staples in New Orleans’ culture.

The coffee, I would have to say, was better than I could have ever anticipated. The coffee is served café au lait, which means that hot milk and hot coffee are poured into the mug at the same time, creating a bubbly, caramel colored beverage.

The beignets spill powdered sugar on everything within a five foot radius and light up the faces of everyone who tries them.

The entire environment is one of bliss and carefree joy. It is a place where worries are gone in the wind and each moment is cherished with those around you.

Café du Monde is most definitely the heart of New Orleans, but even more so, it will change the heart of anyone who walks through its doors.