It’s been one year since Cherry Coffee Roasters opened shop in the Lower Garden District. What started as a popup at Stein’s Deli in 2013 has grown into two shops, each with its own personality, and each serving locally-roasted coffee.
A neighborhood needs more than just another coffee shop, says owner and coffee lover Lauren Fink. She had worked in the industry for 15 years and saw an opportunity with Cherry to bring her love for taste and flavor to others. “I love experiencing flavors. I find that experiencing food and drink is so special,” Fink said.
With Cherry Coffee Roasters, she explores roasting her own coffee and offering a full and fresh experience. “You don’t need a bunch of money, and you don’t have to go to many places to get a great experience, or a balance in flavor.”
Roasting New Orleans Coffee
Fink worked her way up in the coffee world—from barista, to owning and learning the coffee shop business, and now, roasting. She opened Cherry Espresso Bar on Laurel Street in 2016. Two years later, her second location opened on Magazine Street, only 4 blocks from original popup location. This location was the launch of her roasting operation, opening with the name Cherry Coffee Roasters.
For Fink, learning a new trade and a whole new skill has been challenging and fun. It keeps her curiosity fed and interest fresh. Otherwise, she says, when you stop learning, it isn’t fun anymore—or worse, you think you know everything, and you miss out on more.
“When learning a new skill it’s counterintuitive, but once you stop the straining effort of trying to be perfect, it’s when things really start to open and make sense,” Fink said. “Let reality set in that you don’t know what you’re doing and it’s okay. Once you’re able to let go of outcomes is when things really start to flow.”
Coffee is complicated. With only two ingredients (water and coffee) one would think it were more simple, yet every part of its supply chain has to do an impeccable job. Countless hands touch the product before reaching the consumer—from growing and processing at the farm, to exporting from country of origin and importing it into states, then sourcing unique coffees to roast and finally extraction for service.
Fink explained: “Zero mistakes can happen throughout every link of the supply chain in order to get that unique cup. When you are tasting those unique flavors each coffee has to offer, you are experiencing all the hard work that’s been put into that coffee to ensure it tastes as it did when leaving the farm. That is really special.”
There are only two ingredients, and yet, you can influence the flavor based on where it’s grown and the processing method. This is why roasting premium, non-commodity coffee in New Orleans was a mission at Cherry. For $4, one can be drinking some of the best coffee in the world. Unlike a fine wine that could cost $1000 a bottle, this crafted beverage is very approachable for everyone.
A fine coffee experience
Every neighborhood makes a coffee shop a little bit different. Cherry Coffee Roasters on Magazine feels more curated, while the more laid-back espresso bar is on Laurel Street.
Local interior designers styled the place for a luxury experience; this helps showcase the difference between the two. “We’re growing, and you can see it even in our aesthetics,” Fink said. The newer location is a little more mature, moody, and evolved.
Cherry Coffee Roasters avoided the usual options and went for flavorful, tropical food. Their new summer menu features a savory squash waffle served with curried vegetables, quinoa breakfast salad, salmon toast and more.
Fink found a new way to experiment through exploring flavors when writing the food program. “What makes coffee special is how layered in flavors it is on its own. With food, I’m in control of what those flavors are and how they complement one another with balance. The food is lighter and fresher to complement the summer weather and bring nice, quality flavor to health-conscious eater.”
If they were dining experiences, the Cherry Espresso Bar would be family-style, and fine dining would live at Cherry Coffee Roasters in the LGD. Fink says the idea is to give customers an experience: a feeling of getting quality before they even taste the coffee or the food. Small elements—like their red velvet couch and serving espresso in glassware—creates a vibe that says, “this is luxury.”
She added, “It’s not just counter service: we love being part of this community. We make the effort to make people feel like they’re at home here and they’re in good hands.”
Cherry Coffee Roasters
1581 Magazine St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day
Cherry Espresso Bar
4877 Laurel St.
New Orleans, LA 70115
Open Mon–Fri, 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Open Sat & Sun, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.