Local Coffee and Modern Art

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Savannah's Jepson Center makes for an unexpected coffee destination

More known for its soaring architecture than the art it houses, the Jepson Center in Savannah is a physical manifestation of the contemporary climate of the city: simultaneously artistic, modern, southern and traditional.

White, airy, full of light and undulations, the Jepson is part of a trio of museums overlooking Telfair Square. The Jepson is, of course, the most modern; built in 2007 and designed by architect Moshe Safdie, it showcases contemporary art while the Telfair Academy and the Owens-Thomas House are examples of early American art and architecture. The center’s open design does not intrude upon the historical block, its white facade and large windows make it nearly transparent.

We were directed to the Jepson Center for the food (what else?) but were immediately taken by the coffee; unexpectedly — and for a mere $2.50 — it was the best cup of coffee we tasted all week. Roasted by PERC coffee in Savannah, it was a single-origin, medium roast Colombian, full of earthy nuances and a rich, deep chocolate body. PERC owner Philip Brown supplies organic, fair-trade, perfectly roasted wholesale coffee to many local Savannah establishments, thirty in all.

Brown is part of the recent coffee scene developing in Savannah, which he says is only just beginning. He is a believer of “no wave” coffee, which “revolves around proper understanding of coffee from seed to cup as well as proper brewing techniques of both coffee and espresso,” he wrote to me via email. Most important, he says, is that “it is all done with the understanding that not everyone is as serious about coffee as we are and that we should try to include them as well.” I couldn’t help but notice his approach to coffee reflects the overall ethos of the city: accessible, friendly, and intelligent.

One can purchase PERC beans by the bag at the Perry Rubber Bike Shop (and for the best way to see Savannah, rent a bike, while you’re at it!)

Still, the best place to have a cup of Brown’s coffee is at the Jepson, where it is served with beautiful, open views of Savannahians strolling through Telfair Square, and a little contemporary art on the side.

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