International Bean Cafe at GPC

Atlanta, Georgia

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Some things that are commonplace, and often visually associated with banal and infuriatingly mundane errands for those who do their jobs near it, are capable of arousing delight and mystery in others through their covert locations. It is very easy to be covert in Atlanta. Rule number 1: Locate where you are not visible from an automobile. {end rules section}

International Bean Cafe at GPC

Once, when jolted from the fog of days, clustered without linear relationships, a particle of time slipped free, the shackles of demoralizing faceless continuity were disrupted, our office was relocating 1 block down the street, everyone had been released from their sedentary occupations and was pitching in to do some manual labour. It was a rainy day, the sky, befogged, went flat across the skyscrapers, an autumn morning in Atlanta. Bodies, used to sitting in primo Aeron chairs for 10-12-18 hours a day were rickety in their forced movements, the fog aggravated joints and minds. I was requisitioned to discover some specialty coffee drinks for the group. I pressed the founder of our feast to accompany me to an establishment closer and less nefarious than the Starbucks at Equitable Plaza; she deigned to follow along and as the route took us mostly through lobbies and parking garages, her unurban nature would not be spoilt by a walk through the rain. We made our way through the tunnels beneath the parking garage, up across the bridge over Peachtree Center Avenue, and back down the escalator into the basement.

“I never knew this was here!” The Cafe in Georgia Pacific Center is in the basement of the tower, at the entrance to a small suite of retail that includes a mercurial postman, a cobbler, a dry cleaner, and possibly a jeweler. There are no chairs, and there is one table to saddle up to while you wait for the postman to come back from one the 6 fifteen minute breaks in his 5 hour workday.

“You probably have much in common with the people who pass it every day, who realize it is there but are distracted by their need to get their loafers resoled, their dinner jackets pressed, their diamonds reset, or their eBay auctions mailed to Dresden. What you have in common with them is that you find your daily life to be one of destinations. You rarely spend moments outside the office roaming for a new place to sit, one where the sharp bricks of a coping do not draw lines across your back, or by not taking coffees in the city, never have cause to discover obscure public bathrooms. You saw me once, outside of this very building, from your SUV as you cruised past at lunchtime, as I sat in the plaza reading Gautier, and commented upon returning to the office that you had seen me engaged in an ‘urban moment.’ What you saw was a moment freed of destinations, in which the entire surface of the city around International Bean Cafe was a destination, that, continuously occurring, was both immediate and postponable. Instead of setting a course for Mama Fu’s or OK Cafe, at least see if there is something off the street, behind some pink granite walls or neck-high hedges, you can always walk back to get your car when you come up empty-handed.”

But was there delight to be found in this discovery? For her, who can say, but there was for me, even though the Cafe itself was not a discovery, for as many times as I have passed through this route in different ways, stairs, elevators, escalators, car ramps, there was always only one set of double doors to exit through, and this time, once again, I attempted to open the incorrect, locked leaf, thus ensuring myself at least one more voyage through those tunnels until the process became rote, and dismissible.

UPDATE: THIS GLORIFIED VENDING MACHINE IS NOW A CARIBOU, DON’T GO THERE.


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International Bean Cafe at GPC

133 Peachtree St NE (Basement)
Atlanta, Georgia 30303


soymilk: extra charge
wifi: no access

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