A warm and wonderful way to support a unique and vibrant culture

By Tracey Minkin
Courtesy French Truck Coffee

True lovers of New Orleans know two things. One, that Mardi Gras Indian culture is a spectacular pageant of costumes, chants, and street performances that celebrates both African and Native American roots in this historic city (and which were popularized for a wider audience by David Simon's New Orleans-based HBO series, Treme). And two, that rich, delicious coffee is at the heart of any day in the city that eats, drinks, and parties all day (and night) long.

To that end, one of New Orleans’s finest coffee roasters and purveyors—French Truck Coffee—has created a special blend called “Big Chief,” which not only honors the head of Mardi Gras Indian tribes, but that also supports the remarkable House of Dance & Feathers, a museum and cultural center in New Orleans’s Lower 9th Ward.

In celebration of Mardi Gras season, every bag of Big Chief blend sold by French Truck Coffee ($16, available at French Truck locations and online) will result in a $1 donation to House of Dance & Feathers. The museum was founded by Lower 9th Ward resident Ronald W. Lewis and inspired by his collection of Mardi Gras Indian artifacts (including several remarkable examples of the finely crafted costumes that take a year to create and are only worn for one Mardi Gras season), as well as items from New Orleans's social and pleasure clubs and Skull & Bone gangs. But what may be most memorable about the museum is the presence of Lewis himself, who lives adjacent to the building and often spends time with the collection, talking about it, and his own experiences as a Mardi Gras indian, with visitors. 

"I want to educate the world about our great culture, how we do this, and why we are so successful at it even though the economics say we ain't supposed to be," Lewis has said. 

The Big Chief is an El Salvador, Guatemala and fresh crop Peru blend, with lemon and creamy notes, and is the perfect beverage to keep you moving during Mardi Gras season. So get your coffee and your Mardi Gras on now. 

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