The team from Sensory Lab have opened their first stand-alone café in Melbourne, after years of being located in David Jones. I had the pleasure of popping in last week, early in the morning before the big crowds arrive. It gave me the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere, as well as the coffee and tea on offer.
The space was designed by Foolscap, and what was most striking were the inset iPads in the central counter, above which drapes a metal framed canopy. In true laboratory style, the main brew bar is made from stainless steel, and provides for a clean surface where coffee and tea are paramount. The unobtrusive colours allow for a calm vibe, and left me feeling like I could just be, without any pressure to vacate the sanctuary that is Sensory Lab Collins Street.
What makes this store different to the other Sensory Lab venues in town, is that they have a toast bar, and serve hot foods, and not just pastries.
I enjoyed a rare moment of tranquillity, with a single estate tea brewed by the Australian Tea Brewers Champion, Ayden Graham. The tea list is as extensive as their coffee list, with a variety of processes, such as white, green, black, and oolong. Ayden explained that he sources all the teas himself from China, and the Oolong he brewed for me was a Wu Yi Shan Ai Jiao Oolong. This tea is described as having a floral aroma, with notes of amber. I’m still a novice when it comes to the rich tapestry of the Camellia sinensis, but Ayden did take the time to explain the processing and oxidation of the leaves.
Coffee wise, in true Sensory Lab style, there were a selection of blends and single origin beans for both espresso and filter coffee. Single origin offerings included the Colombian Santa Rose, which is a washed Caturra varietal that is characterised by its red fruit flavours, and creamy body; and my personal favourite, an Ethiopian Guji. My choice was a no brainer, due to my great fondness for Ethiopian coffee. The Oromia Guji was producer by various smallholder in the Guji zone, where Ethiopian heirloom varietals grow at around 1850 to 2000 meters above sea level. My espresso had all those nuances I love about Ethiopian coffee, from lemon candy notes, right through to sweet apricot tones.
Sensory Lab Collins St
30 Collins St
Melbourne VIC 3000