Epoch Coffee

Austin, Texas

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Reading the name in the WordPress editor as ‘Epoch’ cannot overwrite the fact that I still visualize the word ‘Epic’ whenever I think or hear about it. Leach now calls it Ee-pok though I believe on our original visits it was indeed Ep-ik. Either way I can let my mind twirl associations from a distance here in Atlanta, though none ever seem to coincide with the realities of my sweaty visits.

All of my trips have been impromptu, al fresco nightcaps with Leach, all in humid darkness, one with his wonderful wife, and one rewarding me with the assignation of a fantastic Miami Dolphins mug for my chug. However, my most recent trip to Epoch was calculated. For a brief stint at my day job we were furloughed to 32-hour weeks. Having not taken any days off myself during that time and having to be in Austin on a Monday night for Tuesday festivities I chose to travel Monday morning and set aside an entire day to stomp the city, the centerpiece being an epic sit-in at my chosen scriptorium, Epoch.

Epoch Coffee

My flight was delayed on the tarmac and I sat in the last seat on the plane next to a large tween and her mother thinking about the dim daylight I was being denied deep in Epoch, the choice remaindered mugs I was missing, the sweat greasing my collar. Those moments in every day submitted to the quotidian mastications of the machine like traffic, waiting in line at the post office, working, and talking to strangers are the black-outs in my addiction to control. So I faded away and waited.

Hours later landing in Austin through brutal crosswinds I darted away in a little maroon rental car and was at Epoch with the ease of my six years of Austin geographical education. It was packed as usual and I got a rather large medium coffee in a clear glass, fluted mug that looked like it would be stored in the freezer to serve root beer out of. I had a notebook I needed to transcribe from and set up my hulking computer against a wall facing into the room.

I generally spend eight to ten hours a day with earplugs in and headphones clamped over them blasting Asphyx or Bolt Thrower. It is my best version of silence, absolute control over the sound I hear. My visits to coffeeshops are generally cut incredibly short if I have to sit somewhere I can see somebody’s lips moving. If I haven’t brought my headphones the visit might amount to ducking in, not ordering a coffee, sitting for two minutes to see if I can stand it, and then rushing out the door enraged, both for being irritated and for bothering to tease myself with the belief that I could suffer through it.

Epoch Coffee

The music was very loud in Epoch. Having never spent more than the duration of my order inside the place it must have never struck me. I speak quietly but the barista had hardly heard me. I was at first concerned. But looking around at the cadaverous Powerbook faces it became clear that they were all as withdrawn into a place parallel but coincident with this one as I planned to be. The music was the silence. It was dim indeed, a nighttime place that seemed odd with light struggling into it, like a crypt or humidor. I settled into my work.

He closes the door quietly with the latch withdrawn and slides it into the pocket by turn of handle. The hot silence haunts. It is the silence that can exist only to precede muffled voices. Interruption lingers in the blank walls. Crushing winds build behind still fabrics. The monologue of the air conditioning shapes a new, vast silence. The dark lake of carpet only shows its green beneath three lamps. He adds two flat pillows from the far bed to the two on the window bed and sits in the amaranthine reflection of the dormant television. He lolls his head and hand in the convex monochrome spilling out from its borders toward the pillaged empty bed. He sleeps with his feet on the wall.

Epoch Coffee

Even in I silence I construct vistas of silence. In solitude I construct enclaves of deeper solitude. I stay at the ready in silence for the silence to be broken. But in Epoch the construction was sound. Loud music and Facebook-hypnotized students built an unflappable cocoon. Certainly it helped that I was only transcribing and hardly thinking. If so I would probably have spent the whole tableau lamenting that the blasting Decemberists distracted me with their intelligible (and painfully precious) lyrics. As it was I only stayed about an hour, just long enough for me, before being summoned to lunch down the street and an afternoon of carefree rambling.

PS, it is impossible not to mention that the place is open 24/7.


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Epoch Coffee

221 West North Loop Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78751
http://www.epochcoffee.com/


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CAFE TABLEAUX
is a compendium of literary, anecdotal musings on coffeeshop and cafe culture.
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