Cool Beans Coffee Roasters on Marietta Square is definitely haunted.
That’s the conclusion of two paranormal investigators who made a house call to the coffee shop earlier this month and allowed the MDJ to tag along.
But there’s no need to sip your coffee in fear the next time you swing by. It turns out the ghosts at the popular Square hangout are mostly pretty laid-back.
“Oh, it’s haunted,” said paranormal investigator Will Aymerich. “From the front room alone when we started, that alone would make me say this place is haunted, but is it creepy haunted? Nah.”
His partner, Christina Kieffer, agreed.
“I feel like the activity we got in that front room was friendly,” she said. “It was just human spirits interacting with you, that’s what I feel like that was.”
Who you gonna call?
Aymerich and Kieffer were invited by a manager of Cool Beans who is also a friend of Kieffer’s after employees reported some strange occurrences. The two have each been on dozens of ghost hunts across the southeast and claim to have seen and heard plenty of spooky occurrences.
Barista Jesse Freeland, who has been at Cool Beans for a few months, said the coffee shop has had some spookiness of its own recently. In one case, he was working at Cool Beans late one night when his ears beheld an eerie sound. From beside the pastry rack began to rise— a ghostly whisper, to his surprise.
“One other person was here, but they were upstairs,” he said. “I go over and I hear it right here… I couldn’t think anymore, I just stopped moving. I was like ‘What’s that?’ And then that was that. That was the last and only thing I’ve ever heard… But other people have said when they come in, chairs are just completely knocked over, things aren’t where they’re supposed to be. It’s not frequent, but every now and then.”
Freeland didn’t seem too perturbed by the potential poltergeists at his workplace.
“I don’t want to think it’s anything else, that’d be worse,” he said with a laugh.
Aymerich and Keiffer, who also co-host a paranormal podcast called the K & A Show, swept the coffee shop with an array of equipment ranging from high-tech gadgets designed to read electromagnetic fields to flashlights, a tennis ball and a rubber ducky.
The latter two are what the ghost hunters call trigger objects. The paranormal pair invited the spirits to move the tennis ball or make the rubber ducky squeak, but the Cool Beans ghosts weren’t up to it.
In Kieffer’s bag was also a vial of holy water and a squirt gun in case the ectoplasm hit the fan. Thankfully, that was not needed on this hunt.
The star piece of equipment in Aymerich’s bag was something called a spirit box, which he said rapidly sweeps the radio spectrum, like turning the dial on your car radio up and down extremely fast. Paranormal investigators say those shifting frequencies make it easier for spirits to communicate with the living. When Aymerich turned it on, it produced static white noise interspersed with split-second bits of songs and radio talk.
The hunt begins
Aymerich and Kieffer asked the voices in the box a series of questions in locations around Cool Beans. The coffee shop was open during the ghost hunt, and customers watched curiously over their lattes as the two went about their business.
The place that seemed to get the most activity was a private booth, the one to the left when you walk in the front door. The ghosts there were mostly uncooperative, though a few times, they offered what the ghost hunters called responses to questions— and what skeptics might call random radio noise. At one point, Aymerich asked the spirits whether they liked tacos, and a voice in the speaker immediately repeated what could have been the word taco. He said ghosts sometimes respond more readily to humorous questions.
The voices in the spirit box also uttered what may have been the monosyllabic name of the MDJ reporter on the assignment when asked.
But the undead elsewhere in the cafe were less lively.
A scan of the upstairs office appeared to reveal little paranormal activity, but throughout the interview, the colored lights on the ghost hunters’ electromagnetic wave detectors would go off, causing them to excitedly point.
At one point, while in the office, Aymerich said he could hear a baby crying from downstairs. In an eerie twist, a Cool Beans employee later approached the ghost hunters and asked why they were playing a recording of a baby crying in the office.
Aymerich said ghosts that appear as children or babies are often up to no good. He said they can sometimes be demons— he and Kieffer prefer the term “inhuman spirits”— that like to disguise themselves as innocent beings.
The hunters also set up operations in the back hall leading to the restrooms. That’s where the inhuman spirits were likely haunting.
The stakeout in the hallway started with Kieffer around the corner holding up fingers and asking the ghosts to say via the spirit box how many fingers she was holding up, a task they ignored completely.
After some time with no ghost activity, Aymerich started to become agitated, swearing at the ghosts and asking if they were cowards. He was mad because he said something was blocking out the voices that were speaking previously. He said it may have been a not-so-nice spirit from the nearby Marietta Museum of History.
“Back here, I was getting angry, and that’s something which is not a good sign… I can tell when there’s a spirit around sometimes just because of how my body reacts, my hair stands up on end, I can feel something behind me,” he said.
If there was an evil spirit haunting the hallway, it did not seem to have any effect on the dozen or so curious Cool Beans customers who walked to the restroom with no apparent ghost trouble.
Are ghosts real?
Though the ghost hunters left certain that Cool Beans was experiencing ghostly activity, there was nothing that would convince a skeptic— no levitating pastries, no dancing skeletons, no mysterious messages in the latte foam.
Some would say that is because ghost hunting is hokum. Kennesaw State University physics professor Nikolaos Kidonakis is among that group.
He said he is dubious about the ghost hunter’s methods, specifically their devices that detect electromagnetic waves.
Electromagnetic waves come in a variety of forms everybody is familiar with— radio waves, microwaves, X-rays, even the visible light spectrum.
“So, a camera is a device that detects electromagnetic waves. So is the eye, or a radar, a radio, a TV antenna, et cetera,” he said. “The sensitivity of the device and the kind of waves it detects depends on the device.
“As to detecting ghosts, since ghosts do not exist, there is no connection to be made with electromagnetic waves and devices that detect these waves,” the professor added. “If people want to have fun and a few laughs on Halloween, it is of course their choice.”
The ghost hunters said they’ve heard the scientific arguments before. Aymerich said the supernatural is not completely compatible with science.
“This is a pseudoscience still,” he said. “There’s no way you can put any of this 100 percent in the rigors of the scientific method… replicating stuff, having the situation replicate in the same location is easier said than done… It’s not one of those things where you can put it in a clean room and say ‘Okay, do this.’”
“It’s the same thing with any organism,” she said, “because we’re talking about people and things that have a mind of their own, that can make their own decisions.”
One flesh and blood Cool Beans customer who did not want to be named followed the ghost hunters through the store as they searched for spirits. She said for her, whether or not the ghosts exist is not important.
“It’s interesting because they’re interested in it,” she said. “It’s vicarious excitement. I see them getting excited in it, getting into it, and I’m like ‘Look at how interesting they are.’ It reminds me of characters in movies that are ghost hunters. I can’t necessarily believe in it, but their belief in it is interesting.”