Since those carefree days, PJ's has taken on a whole new meaning for me. My parents took ownership of three PJ's franchises in 2003 and 2004. It became a family business with my cousin managing the stores and my sister working as a barista. My parents made their franchises truly beautiful and modern places to enjoy the pleasures of coffee. My dad would have liked to still own these great franchises but in 2005 Hurricane Katrina changed everything. Not only did the stores take a serious hit, especially their PJ's on Orleans Avenue nearest to the highest of flood waters, but also my dad became very ill following the storm. My parents took these events as a sign and didn't know if they would ever be able to sell their home if they didn't act fast. So, they moved away from their beloved New Orleans and from the constant stress of wondering when the next Katrina will come. They ran the shops for a while from afar visiting often, but eventually sold the shops.
When I visit my hometown, so many things are different without my parents living there and without the home I grew up in, but some things remain constant. One thing that I can always count on when visiting New Orleans is PJ's coffee. So many memories rush back when I walk through those doors and order my favorite PJ's coffee drink. Besides being this great place to spend time, did I mention the coffee is outstanding, by far my favorite coffee. That's right-leaps and bounds better than Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts. I guess if you haven't had the pleasure to experience really good coffee, then these chains seem like the real deal. After living in Philadelphia for almost 8 years, I have yet to find a coffeehouse that understands how to properly brew cold coffee for iced and frozen coffee beverages.
Coffee shops out there...listen and learn. There is an actual method to making cold coffee other than refrigerating hot coffee or using tons of ice that only melts when the hot coffee hits it. The method is called "cold drip", which is the steeping of coffee grounds in cold water for at least 24 hours. The cold steeped coffee is filtered out making a perfectly bodied espresso-like blend, which is ideal for cold coffee beverages. This is why when I arrive in New Orleans, all I want is an iced coffee or a "Granita" from PJ's. The "Granita" exemplifies what a frozen coffee beverage should be-smooth and flavorful, crystalline frozen coffee. This coffee treat highlights the coffee not weighed down with tons of milk, sugar, flavor syrups, whipped cream or toppings. While it is lightly sweetened, the "Granita" brings you a deliciously rich flavor that gives you the strongest jolt of any coffee I have ever had.
PJ's has it all from traditional hot beverages and the fancy sweet specialty coffees to the best iced coffees and frozen coffees anywhere. Unlike most coffee houses, PJ's roasts flavor into their coffees instead of using sugary flavor syrups after the fact. Flavors like hazelnut, Southern pecan, French vanilla, and English toffee are just some of the many flavored roasted coffees available. Another PJ's specialty is their Iced Mocha. This simple beverage is better here than anywhere else simply due to the quality of the cold-drip iced coffee before adding the chocolate syrup and milk.
PJ's stands for Phyllis Jordan, the founder of PJ's Coffee and Tea Company dedicated to making the best coffee by roasting coffee blends in small batches. PJ's roasting facility is right near the Mississippi River moments from the French Quarter. All coffees are made with a drum roaster, which uses an indirect heating method allowing for each bean to be roasted uniformly. With New Orleans being a port for the entire country, it is only natural that the best coffees land into this city first. A third of all coffee brought into North America enters through the docks of New Orleans before it gets to you. PJ's has greatly grown since its days of only a few shops in New Orleans. Now, you can find as many as 48 locations in the state of Louisiana plus multiple locations in Mississippi as well as a store in Eustis, Florida and Highland Park, New Jersey. If any Philadelphians are interested in opening a franchise, please check out PJ's' website for these opportunities. And if you open, I promise I will be your number one customer and recruit a huge following to partake in "simply the best coffee"!
PJ's Coffee and Tea Company