Café Du Monde – coffee and beignets in New Orleans

Café Du Monde French Market location serves coffee and beignets 24 hours a day, 7  days a week

No visit to New Orleans is complete without a visit to the original Café Du Monde (official site) operating in the French Market at 800 Decatur Street continuously since 1862. Popular with visitors and locals alike, the location is open 24 hours a day, year-round, with the exception of Christmas and “on the day an occasional Hurricane passes too close to New Orleans.”

Café Du Monde’s menu is simple and to the point. The drink of choice here is chicory coffee, served au lait style (half steamed milk) or black. The Café also has iced and frozen coffee options to beat the heat, menu items added in 1998, along with soft drinks. Decaffeinated coffee is also available, made using a natural Ethyl Acetate process.

Café du Monde sign from seating area. Located in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Café du Monde sign from seating area.

Outdoor tables at Café Du Monde.

Outdoor tables at Café Du Monde.

What makes New Orleans coffee unique is the blend of coffee and chicory. Chicory refers to the root of a blue-flowered perennial plant. Chicory is a great source of vitamins and minerals and has been used historically to treat digestive and liver problems, among many other conditions. The French began adding chicory to their coffee in the first half of the 19thcentury, partially due its robust flavor but also as a cost-saving measure.

By cutting coffee with chicory it was possible to lower costs while still keeping a strong, bold flavor. New Orleans, due to its French heritage, adopted the practice as well when faced with Union blockades during the Civil War. Today, New Orleans is essentially the only part of the United States that still keeps chicory coffee as part of its culture, and a visit to Café Du Monde helps keep that tradition alive.

The only food item available at Café Du Monde is hot fried beignets, essentially a French-origin (by way of Acadia) donut without a hole and covered in powdered sugar. Beignets can often have a fruit filling, or in the case of savory beignets – cheese, meat, seafood or potatoes. New Orleans beignets are simply square pieces of fried dough covered with powdered sugar, typically served 3 to an order.

Beignet order at Café Du Monde.

Beignet order at Café Du Monde.

Apart from coffee beverages, soft drinks and beignets, the only other items on the menu at Café Du Monde are cold milk (white or chocolate), fresh squeezed orange juice, hot chocolate and bottled water. All orders are cash only. An ATM machine is conveniently located across the street if you don’t have cash. Also, it’s possible to order items “to go” at a separate on-site stand.

Café Du Monde simple menu, on the table’s napkin holder.

Café Du Monde’s menu, on the table’s napkin holder.

The Café is bustling year-round, but service is mostly quick and to the point. Things go a little more slowly in New Orleans in general, so don’t expect Starbucks-like efficiency. Café Du Monde is not a fine dining experience, but really just a form of good, fast food that dates back over 150 years. It’s a historic menu and experience that remains virtually unchanged today. Tip: For family and friends, consider purchasing canned coffee or beignet mix directly from your server. Gift baskets are available, which include coffee, beignet mix and a mug. Ordering from your server is easiest and most convenient and may save you time waiting in line later.

Café Du Monde sustained only minor damage in 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina, but they decided to shutter their doors for nearly 2 months and used the down time to refurbish their eating areas and kitchens. Beginning in 1985, Café Du Monde began opening other coffee stand locations in the metropolitan New Orleans area, and today there are 8 in total. There are also 2 separate gift store locations, located nearby at Grandad’s General Store and Uncle Wilbur’s Emporium, convenient if you are looking to pick up packaged coffee or gifts and you are not getting a table at the Café.

If you are not able to visit New Orleans in person, visit the official Café Du Monde website and purchase your gifts from there. Canned coffee, beignet mix, gift baskets, mugs and clothing items are all available for purchase. The prices are very reasonable, but the shipping charges (based on weight) may start to add up. If you are a coffee lover, there are even coffee club options available, allowing you to purchase large quantities in bulk, with shipping included. Be sure to also follow Café Du Monde on their official Facebook profile.

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