Coffee Lab is a popular city café, located just a short walk from the busy Canberra Centre in the CBD. It is named Coffee Lab as they enjoy "breaking down the science behind coffee" and experimenting with different coffee blends, new machinery and sourcing beans from all over the world to make the perfect coffee. They are constantly evolving and changing their coffee and encourage their customers to ask about what they are experimenting with today.
This café opened in 2014 and has gained a huge following, with local workers lining up for coffees during the week and holiday-makers and locals enjoying leisurely breakfasts on weekends. Although it is in an unusual location opposite a carpark and with little passing traffic, they have signage on each street corner to attract customers and have welcoming, friendly staff to meet them at the door. On our visit, it was just a short wait at the door until an inside table was available and then we eagerly awaited the caffeine-fuelled experience ahead.
On our visit, our intention was to just try out their coffee, however, we were (easily!) distracted by their Salted Caramel cronuts and equally as delicious-looking Nutella sidekicks. I have become a fan of Nutella of late, after recently discovering Nutella muffins at Milk Crate café, on the other side of the city. These cronuts however, had more of a subtle, smooth flavour with a creamy centre and each soft piece melted in the mouth. The coffee was equally as perfect. Creamy, balanced, hot and everything you would expect from this café - and more.
Just like the outside, the interior is warm, rustic and a tad eclectic, with a bicycle on the wall and an entire back wall made up of stacked hessian coffee bags filled with sand. It also feels very open with plenty of light through open windows and greenery dangling from the pallets on the ceiling. The whole effect is cosy and welcoming, making you want to stay for awhile and just enjoy the whole "feel" of this casual and modern cafe.
The menu is given to diners as they sit down and judging by the beautifully presented meals around us, this café is just as popular for the food, as much as its coffee. They offer a long list of breakfast items, vegan options and such a wide range of lunch choices that the writing on the menu is extremely tiny to fit it all in on the one page. Although there are many they can recommend, the staff said the most popular breakfast dish is No Regrets, which is a stack of crispy Pialligo bacon and poached eggs sitting atop a corn meal hash brown, smothered in James Brown sauce and sautéed kale for $17.
No Regrets. Image: Coffee Lab Facebook, photo credit David Burke
When you find somewhere like Coffee Lab, which leaves an impression on you long after you leave, you look forward to the next visit in the hope that it will be as enjoyable as the first. The coffee is outstanding and there is such a happy vibe about the place - the people who work there are in their element and genuinely loving what they do, which is contagious. Judging by the amount of people who have discovered this venue and looked right at home, I would say this café has hit the mark with Canberra workers and locals. I am already looking forward to sampling some of that healthy menu, as well going to the dark side and being lured in by the cronuts again. Who knows what experiments they will be conducting this weekend?