A Month of Coffeshops: Fair Grinds

Fair Grinds is the inaugural coffeeshop in the "A Month of Coffeeshops" series here at LIB.  I'll be taking a look at some of the many coffeehouses here in New Orleans, long a coffee city given its geography as a port near the coffee producing states of Latin America.  At the end of the series, I'll provide my ranking of the establishments - so feel free to influence the final decision by commenting as we go along.

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Fair Grinds is a good Saturday afternoon coffeeshop.  And that's why I've been here for the past few hours, studying with the Mid-City greenery out the window along Ponce de Leon Street.  It's definitely a neighborhood affair here - whether inside under the pulley-operated fans in view of the "DUCKopolypse" painting (that only people in the greater Bayou St. John area would understand) or outside in the side gallery where the sun peeks in on the giant map of the Fair Grounds horse racing track (the home of Jazz Fest, which is just a few blocks away).  Competition for the colored tables can get intense here - and patrons, usually a highly diverse group, often play a complex game of leapfrogging around for better spots.

Occasionally, the community aspect of the shop intrudes on its "quiet" coffeeshop aspect - musical ensembles will suddenly appear to sparse crowds in the evening.  Or, as is the case right now, a guest author with a slideshow on the threats to the Louisiana bayou will inspire a rather heated conversation amongst the dozen gathered to listen.  Wal-Mart is losing in some tangent of debate, from what I can tell.  This is the place for finding out about Mid-City goings on - the windows, the bulletin boards, and the racks are rife with literature and handbills about the latest.

How are the coffee drinks?  Rather swell.