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New Orleans: La Boucherie

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Name: La Boucherie Coffee House
Location: 399 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA
Rating: 2

For my first foray into New Orleans coffee, I managed to convince my family to convene one morning at La Boucherie. Part of my motivation was the hearty, fairly tasty breakfast that La Boucherie allegedly served. It was be the perfect start to our day before embarking on wide array of touristy activities. My recommendation, of course, wasn’t completely selfless. I also had hopes of finding a decent cup of coffee given the semi-favorable comments from one blogger, even while simultaneously kept my enthusiasm in check based on the less than stellar comments of another. We sadly discovered upon our arrival that La Boucherie no longer serves breakfast. With restless family members desperately grumbling for food, I had just enough time to quickly survey the scene, take a couple of pictures and order myself an espresso.

The basic setup at La Boucherie seems pleasant enough based on my very short stay. Four to five rotating postcard stands are positioned in the back near the bulk of the seating, making it obvious that the cafe caters to the touristy crowd (like us!). Then again, that description fits just about every place in the French Quarter. The cafe has free wifi (there’s actually free wifi in most parts of the Quarter) and exudes an overall feeling that leans a bit more towards friendly pub, than what I traditionally think of as a cafe.

La Boucherie’s coffee hails from Coffee Roasters of New Orleans with espresso pulled from some kind of copper-domed Rancilio similar to this customized model, with the machine itself more closely resembling one of Rancilio’s traditional semi-autos. The brewed coffee – one blend and one flavored, I believe – is prepared via commercial Fetco brewer. The tea, it turns out, is from Mighty Leaf – certainly a happy and unexpected surprise.

The barista pulled my shot into a demitasse, happily, given my conflicted order that included a croissant to go. I did note, however, that the grinder didn’t whir once in the preparation of my drink. Given the relatively small crowd in attendance (and no line before or after our arrival), I’m guessing that the grinder also hadn’t run too recently.

What arrived was a very long shot with thin, pale crema. I prepared for the worst, but was surprised to find something drinkable. It was a pretty traditional profile: slightly fruity and semi-sweet with caramel and tobacco. This thin-bodied shot, however, was nothing close to a ristretto. In fact, it seemed to teeter on the brink of becoming an Americano with its watery qualities possibly obscuring any notes less palatable. While I can’t speak too highly of it as espresso, per se, I will say that this was one of the better tasting coffees on the trip.

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