Spitfire Coffee

Watching espresso extract from my seat by the counter at Spitfire Coffee in New Orleans.My first speciality coffee in New Orleans came courtesy of Spitfire Coffee. A tiny spot in the heart of the French Quarter, it’s the number one option when you need decent coffee during a hard day’s sight-seeing. Given its size/location, Spitfire could be forgiven for serving a middle-of-the-road espresso blend and a big flask of drip coffee to go. But no, Spitfire is cut from a different cloth.

The coffee comes from a cast of five roasters, with a different option on espresso every day, coupled with multiple options on pour-over using V60 or Chemex. There’s also cold-brew, a decent selection of tea and some signature drinks (Las Tres Flores and a Cuban Cortado). You can also have an iced espresso or latte should that take your fancy and, refreshingly, there’s no batch-brew on offer. If you’re hungry, there’s a choice of two cakes, baked at Spitfire’s sister location, Pax.

November 2022: sadly Spitfire’s sister location, Pax, has had to close while Spitfire itself is temporarily closed while it moves to bigger premises

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • A typical scene in the heart of New Orleans' French Quarter. Or is it?
  • Look at little bit closer, between the cigar shop and the place selling 'voodoo' stuff...
  • ... and you'll see this: Spitfire Coffee, speciality coffee in the heart of the French Quarter!
  • The building, by the way, has some heritage, having been erected in 1840.
  • Spitfire is just a door/window and not much more inside. Here's the view from the door.
  • Looking to the left of the counter, you'll see that there is some seating...
  • ... but it's not much, just this bar along the left-hand wall.
  • And that's it. The rest of the space is taken up with the window.
  • This will be your first port of call: the till, at the back of the counter. Order your coffee...
  • ...then, if you can, grab a seat before collecting your coffee from the counter.
  • If it's free, I recommend the stool at the end nearest the counter, which comes with...
  • ... this view of the epresso machine for the duration of your stay.
  • This is the more typical view of the espresso machine, to your left as you stand at the till.
  • However, Spitfire does pour-over as well, either V60 or Chemex.
  • Here's a V60 being prepared for another customer.
  • The original owner, by the way, was a Brit with an interest in Spitfires. Hence the name.
  • A touch of green between the door and the window.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot. The lights are needed since it is a little gloomy iinside.
  • Naturally, there are retail bags of the coffee from the various roasters on offer.
  • The concise coffee menu is on the wall to the right of the till...
  • ... while the current pour-over choices are listed on a clipboard on the counter-top.
  • There's also a choice of two cakes: cinnamon rolls or caneles. Both look great.
  • The two options on espresso during my visit.
  • The Colombian from Methodical was in the hopper when I arrived, but that ran out...
  • ... replaced by a Guatemalan from Bean Fruit. The barista writes the recipe on the hopper.
  • Talking of which, here are some tools of the trade...
  • ... and this is Marissa, my barista, pulling one of the last shots of the Colombian
  • After zeroing the scales with the empty portafilter, she grinds the coffee.
  • Although the grinder grinds and dispenses a set amount, Marissa will check it's correct...
  • ... before levelling off the surface of the coffee with the OCD device...
  • ... and then giving it a firm tamp.
  • Attach the portafilter and off we go.
  • Here it comes. This really is the best place to watch espresso extract.
  • That's a very rich, beautiful stream.
  • I'm particularly impressed with how it came out as a single stream from the get go.
  • Almost done. This looks like a very long shot, but it is mostly crema.
  • And the end result: my cappuccino, looking good on the counter-top.
  • Nice latte art from Marissa.
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Spitfire Coffee (not to be confused with Glasgow’s Spitfire Espresso) is on Saint Peter Street, just around the corner from Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Sandwiched between a cigar shop and somewhere selling souvenirs, it’s a tiny spot, with the door on the right and a window on the left. There’s not much more inside, where the counter occupies maybe half the space, although a high ceiling gives Spitfire a surprising sense of space on the rare occasion it’s not full of customers.

The only natural light is from the door and the tall, thin window. Coupled with the narrow, high-sided street, this means it’s subdued inside, making the extensive lighting rig above the counter a necessity rather than a luxury. Talking of which, rather than running directly across the space, the counter is L-shaped, the short side at the back, facing the door. You’ll find the till here, with the menu on the wall to the right, plus a choice of two cakes (a cinnamon bun or canele during my visit, baked at Spitfire’s sister location, Pax Treme). The shiny bulk of the espresso machine is immediately to your left, on the long part of the L, while you double back on yourself to collect your coffee, which appears at the top of the L. Take a look at the gallery if that doesn’t make sense!

It’s mostly standing-room only, with only a few persistent folk like me staying to drink their coffee, competing for one of the three stools lining the narrow bar against the left-hand wall. If you can, I recommend occupying the one nearest the counter for an awesome view of the espresso machine. And while you’re there, it would be rude not to talk with your barista (the lovely Marissa while I was there, along with her equally lovely colleague, Meg, who was operating the till and making pour-overs).

Spitfire is a multi-roaster, always trying to have five roasters represented on the menu. These are a fairly consistent cast, although every now and then, a new one joins the fold, which was the case when I was there, a Colombian single-origin from South Carolina’s Methodical gracing the hopper.

Marissa told me that Spitfire tries to have a different coffee on espresso each day, making the change overnight, but recently Spitfire had been very busy, so she had been running through the coffee more quickly. Case in point, I had one of the last shots of the Colombian in my morning cappuccino before Marissa switched to a Guatemalan single-origin from BeanFruit, a roaster from Jackson, Mississippi.

Spitfire champions roasters from the south, with Panther Coffee (Miami), Onyx (Arkansas) and Crema (Nashville, Tennessee) all making an appearance on the bill that day, along with Passion House, which is the exception that proves the rule, hailing from Chicago.

My cappuccino, by the way, was lovely, rich and creamy, the coffee and milk in perfect harmony, the ideal start to my day.

http://spitfirecoffee.com +1 225 384 0655
Monday 08:00 – 20:00 Roaster Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 20:00 Seating Bar
Wednesday 08:00 – 20:00 Food Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 20:00 Service Counter
Friday 08:00 – 20:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 20:00 Wifi No
Sunday 08:00 – 20:00 Power No
Chain Local Visits 10th March 2018, 7th April 2019

You can also see what I made of Spitfire’s sister location, Pax Treme, which opened the week of my visit. Talk about good timing!

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