Each and everyday like clockwork I stumble into my regular chain coffee joint for a triple shot mocha. At a clip of 364 days a year, and sometimes twice a day. Anyone who knows me, even in the slightest, will tell you I have a serious hankering/addiction to caffeine. Just recently I've become more and more aware of how much customers just don't matter in these places. Don't get me wrong, I realize that in the grand scheme of things, I'm only one person among hundreds of folks who shuffle in and out. What seems to be missing is community.
I'm not sure why the first time I visited The Fairgrinds Coffee House (3133 Ponce DeLeon St New Orleans, LA 70119 / 504.913.9072), it didn't make anymore than a fleeting impression on me. Maybe I was under some sort of green grande spell, but its mystique did not stick until recently. After ridding myself of the chain coffee house static, I re-visited Fairgrinds in Mid-City with a clear head. The moment I turned the corner onto Ponce DeLeon and walked towards the door, I knew it was a special place. Folks of all different types were sitting outside on the dark green benches, as well as the lush side courtyard, chatting it up over their coffee and cigarettes. Stickered bicycles and smiling faces lined the walkways.
Within two steps of the threshold, you get a sense of how diverse the place really is. From all angles the colorful walls are lined with local pieces of art, both photographic and painted. As I walked up to the counter I was greeted genuinely and with a smile. I ordered my signature mocha and sat down to enjoy the ongoing conversations. One regular describe the place as your favorite local bar room without the booze. It feels like home to me. I'm guessing this is the ultimate goal for proprieters Robert & Elizabeth, who not only sought out to create something unique but also something good for the soul and the planet. By striving to provide natural and local products as well as fair trade beans, their homepage says it all..."We are convinced that quality will set us apart from out competition". It has done just that by offering a great blend of personal service and superior product. Out of all the mochas I've had over the years, Fairgrinds is the best.