I first went to New Orleans with my Coffee Spot hat on during 2018, when I visited for the weekend. I knew very little about the city’s small but vibrant speciality coffee scene, although one name that kept coming up was Sólo Espresso, which became the second stop on my short tour. I immediately fell in love with the basement-like space and, two years later, I was very sad to hear the news that Sólo Espresso had closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two years after that and I was back in New Orleans for my second weekend visit. On my first day, the staff at Congregation Coffee Roasters confirmed that Sólo Espresso was indeed gone for good. However, they told me some good news: a new coffee shop, Lowdown, had opened in its place, so the next day I made it my first stop.
If you knew Sólo Espresso, then Lowdown will feel very familiar, with essentially the same layout and friendly welcome. Ruby Coffee Roasters is on espresso, along with a guest roaster, plus another on batch brew filter. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a range of cakes and pastries, all made on-site, with a brunch special each weekend.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Lowdown occupies the same building that was home to Sólo Espresso, on the ground floor of a long, low building on the corner of Poland Avenue and Urquhart Street. It’s a little way east of the centre, on the border between Bywater and St. Claude, and across the canal from the Lower Ninth Ward. If you don’t mind the walk, its a pleasant 50-minute stroll through Crescent Park on the north bank of the Mississippi, while there are also regular buses. Alternatively, it’s a 10-minute taxi ride, depending on traffic.
Whichever route you take, you won’t be disappointed. Lowdown is very much the spiritual successor to Sólo Espresso, having been started a year ago by the trio of Potter, Mik and Alex, the first two having previously worked at Sólo. The entrance, which is swathed in greenery, is tucked away under/to the right of the stairs that lead up to the top floor. The stairway forms the left-hand side of what is in effect a long path leading to Lowdown’s doors, while the right-hand side is demarcated by some planters and a pair of wide bench seats. The wide, double doors are set back under a porch-like structure, a pair of chairs sheltering in a nook to the left.
Stepping inside, you find yourself in a long, low basement-like space which stretches away ahead of you. There’s some seating in the front third by the doors, then comes the counter, which occupies another third of the space, followed by more seating at the back. Immediately to the right of the door is a south-facing four-person window-bar with high-chairs, although the wooden bench-seat that was built into the corner to left of the doors has gone, replaced by a fridge and some retail shelves.
The counter still runs along the right-hand wall, its short end facing the doors. Here you’ll find the till and cakes, while the menu is still on the wall to the right. Another survivor is the Synesso espresso machine, which is halfway down the counter, after which comes the open kitchen. Best of all, the six square stools which line the counter, where you can sit and watch your coffee being made, are still there.
The space at the back used to be dominated by a large, wooden communal table, but this has been replaced by a sofa on the left, while in the back, right-hand corner, is a two-person table. There’s also more seating outside, with a row of four white bucket seats down the side of the building, just before a to-go hatch so that you can order your coffee without even stepping inside.
Talking of coffee, Lowpoint uses Wisconsin’s Ruby Coffee Roasters on espresso, with a guest roaster as a second espresso option. There’s also either Ruby or the guest on batch brew filter. During my visit, the guest espresso was a Guatemalan single-origin from old friends, Miami’s Panther Coffee. I had this in a cortado, which was neat, since when I visited Sólo Espresso in 2018, I also had coffee from Panther.
The Guatemalan single-origin went very well with the milk for a rounded, well-balanced cortado that made an excellent start to my day. I was also blessed with some long-lasting latte art, the pattern surviving to the bottom of the glass. Before I left, I gave the staff a gift of a bag of Vietnamese coffee, the Hung Farm, which I’d picked up from Greater Goods in Austin the previous weekend. Then it was on my way to my next stop, Pond Coffee, which the staff at Lowpoint had just told me about…
|1301 POLAND AVENUE • NEW ORLEANS • LA 70117 • USA|
|www.instagram.com/lowpointco||+1 504 327 7373|
|Monday||07:30 – 14:30||Roaster||Ruby Coffee Roasters + Guests (espresso + batch brew)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 14:30||Seating||Tables, Bars, Sofa; Chairs (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 14:30||Food||Cake, Weekend Brunch|
|Thursday||07:30 – 14:30||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 14:30||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 15:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 15:00||Power||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||20th November 2022|
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