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The Former Slave Who Opened The First French Market Coffee Stand


The legacy: Her name might not be known by many New Orleanians today, but Rose Nicaud’s legacy has been felt — or, more accurately, tasted — every day in New Orleans for nearly 200 years. A former slave who purchased her freedom, she sold cafe-au-lait to French Market vendors from a push-cart in the early 1800s. That humble business plan would make her a trailblazer on multiple fronts. Not only is “Old Rose” recognized as the first New Orleans street vendor to offer fresh coffee, but she would inspire other free women of color — with such lyrical names as Zabette, Manette and Rose Gla — to follow suit and open coffee carts of their own. Eventually, Nicaud would save enough to set up shop at a permanent location in the French Market, one that would become a daily oasis for everyone from wealthy planters to humble dock workers. It would also lead to the establishment there of such coffee stands as Morning Call and Cafe du Monde — and kick-start a robust, restorative and revered New Orleans tradition.

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