Friday, June 11, 2010

New Orleans coffee

If you are from New Orleans, you may not have heard of Dunkin' Donuts, a chain that has virtually conquered Boston.

DD has been around for decades, but its creep has increased as the years go by.  When I lived in Connecticut, and earlier in Rhode Island, I watched it fill available corner lots and storefronts with alarming  determination.  There are still local shops that will brew you a cuppa joe, but I suspect by century's end DD will dominate the field even more than it does now, if corporate HQ has their way.
Common chicory in flower

The Crescent City coffee scene seems more varied.  Community Coffee and PJ's are easy enough to find and there are a few Starbucks, but the little guys still have clout in their neighborhood niches.  I've been to Cafe du Monde once as a tourist, but I haven't been back.  I'm no coffee connoisseur and I'm content with pretty much anything that's hot.  This may be why I haven't noticed the chicory that is supposed to be the hallmark ingredient of New Orleans coffee that separates it from all other blends.

Chicory coffee may be a myth used to lure tourists, another legend like voodoo that helps cement New Orleans' reputation as a unique place on the globe.  I know it's an ingredient in the Cafe du Monde blend and I've seen it listed on the sides of cans in the supermarket.  I just don't know how common it is.  My unsophisticated palate may never know the difference.  The issue bears further investigation.

With all its experiments over the years, I don't recall Dunkin' Donuts test marketing a cajun blend of coffee featuring chicory.  Of course, Boston did recently acquire two Popeye's Chicken outlets so it may just be a matter of time before DD starts selling this combination of two natural diuretics in a brew.


Anita said...

Coffee is a highly personal matter. For instance, there are a lot of iced coffee drinkers here, for obvious reasons, and many people prefer PJs for this. Their cold brew equipment is great for making iced coffee at home. Some people go wild and freeze coffee to make ice cubes that won't dilute a glass of iced coffee.

Many of us like French Press and drip coffee and love all manner of espresso drinks. CDM with chicory is wonderful with hot milk and an order of beignets.

The biggest difference I notice between New Orleans coffee and coffee elsewhere is here it is darker and stronger, unless you're in a place that caters to tourists, where the coffee tends to be watery because they they get complaints about dark, strong coffee.

I know a guy who works offshore, two weeks out and two weeks in. On the afternoon he returns home UPS delivers two pounds of freshly roasted beans from a coffee supplier in Mississippi, of all places, which he then keeps in the refrigerator and grinds fresh for each lovely pot of coffee for the entire home stay.Needless to say, he researched and taste tested extensively before settling on this arrangement, like the scientist he is.

The whole point of New Orleans is to learn how to enjoy every morsel and every sip. You don't have to agree about what tastes best in life to be happy here, far from it, but I think what is crucial is to care about the quest!

Welcome home.

Whalehead King said...

I've never liked iced coffee. That may change with time. I do enjoy savoring the moment and there is plenty to savor here. So far, so good.

Thanks Anita. It feels good to be in New Orleans for good.


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