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Sensory Lab -St Ali vs David Jones for blinding coffee science

June 15, 2010

I’ve been waiting months for Sensory Lab to have an online presence, making it easier to locate, describe and promote.  A collab between St Ali, Melbourne’s coffee maffioso,  and unlikely partners David Jones, Sensory Lab is the latest word in Melbourne’s continual dalliance with the relationship between coffee and science.  Set up like a Laboratory, Sensory Lab serves filters, syphons and the ultimate fix  in cold drip coffee, all presented school-experiment stylee in beakers and pipettes.  Staff wear Lab coats, and the scientific sideof roasting and blending  is pushed front centre, with baristas and brewers only too happy to educate drinkers in the differences in beans, in various preparation methods and what to look out for in taste.  It’s a visual and palate treat to spend time in Sensory Lab, if you can avoid glancing up the stairs into the more mundane surrounds of the department store.

If you feel like seeing the window dressing of science-fetishism but want a standard espresso hit, Sensory Lab has a corner for Normal Transactions, including a cake cabinet containing what look like tasty morsels: but my adventures here are usually centred around the lab bench and its array of bunsen burners.  Most beloved is the cold drip filter, which often comes in two single origins from which to choose and has taken eight hours and the full force of gravity to brew. The caffeine kick is huge but the taste complex, subtle and eminently repeatable.

For those who like it so much they must possess their own artefact: both beans and equipment are available for take-home at the Sensory Lab counter.

Beans are also available online through their website, as are blognotes and youtube videos.

Takeaway window open from 7am, and the full lab is open usual department store hours: 9.30am – 6pm,  Sun – Wed, and until 9pm Thurs- Fri, until 7pm Sat.

Located at: 297 Lt Collins St City. Ph. (03) 9643 2222.

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