If the name Cafe Du Monde doesn’t ring a bell, then clearly you have not traveled to the French Quarter of New Orleans. The name should evoke thoughts of a deep, rich, satisfying cup of coffee and the best beignets to ever have passed my lips, and a wonderful people watching opportunity.
The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862, and with the exception of Christmas Day and those few days when a Hurricane passes too close to New Orleans, it is open 24/7. It is a traditional coffee shop, offering dark roasted coffee and chicory, beignets, white and chocolate milk, and fresh squeezed orange juice. The coffee is served black or au lait. Au lait means that it is mixed half and half with hot milk. Beignets are square French-style doughnuts about the size of a man’s palm, lavishly covered with powdered sugar, and served in orders of three. Iced coffee and soft drinks were added to the menu in 1988, apparently due to rising demand.
According to the website: “The taste for coffee and chicory was developed by the French during their civil war. Coffee was scarce during those times, and they found that chicory added body and flavor to the brew. The Acadians from Nova Scotia brought this taste and many other french customs (heritage) to Louisiana. Chicory is the root of the endive plant. Endive is a type of lettuce. The root of the plant is roasted and ground. It is added to the coffee to soften the bitter edge of the dark roasted coffee. It adds an almost chocolate flavor.”
I have found the coffee at this establishment to be consistent over the years, and some of the best of it’s type I have been privileged to consume. While it is available in many grocery and specialty stores, sporting the unique yellow label, it’s never quite the same as the fresh coffee from the French Quarter.
Cafe Du Monde has branched out from the original coffee shop. There are now eight Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stands in the New Orleans Metropolitan area. They are located in the French Market, Esplanade Mall, Riverwalk Mall, Lakeside Mall, Oakwood Mall, Mandeville, Covington and 4600 Veterans Boulevard as well as a gift shop in the French Quarter.
If you are not inclined to visit the original location, or want to Christmas shop for the coffee lovers in your life, you may also visit the Cafe Du Monde Online Store.
A word of warning for those who try the beignets! Breath out before you bring this pastry near your face, open wide to take a bite, and whatever you do don’t breath or laugh while all that powdered sugar is anywhere near your face! If you think I’m kidding, try it.
Both my partner and I have experienced the hazards of breathing wrong, either taking sugar into the nose and lungs, or spraying it all over the table and everyone with us. Cafe Du Monde’s beignets are an adventure to eat, to say the least!
On the 1-5 scale, Cafe Du Mond gets:
Cleanliness – 4
Service – 5
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 3
Overall experience – 4.4
Cafe Du Monde – French Quarter
800 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
— Ann Cathey