A new coffee hot spot has opened in Melbourne, at the top end of Collins Street: Sensory Lab Collins.
Tucked down a laneway, slotted between Collins, Little Collins, Spring and Exhibition Streets, the bright laboratory lights and stainless steel kitchen tops are a beacon compared to the aged brick, grey buildings and asphalt road. A small space but with ample seating, there is a counter bench lining the centre with novel iPads sunk into the benchtop, and two-person 'cubicles' near the front part of the cafe. Copies of a range of daily newspapers, as well as The New Yorker, Monocle and The Monthly, lend the cafe a feeling that it's ok to let time pass by while taking a break from the bustle outside.
As for food, simplicity is Sensory Lab's modus operandi. A selection of pastries, biscuits, and fresh toast, are the available fare. It's a refreshing break from the big breakfast, paleo specialties and smashed avocados that are de rigeur.
The coffee is excellent. With pink-lidded takeaways coming in two sizes, the espresso coffee is strong, smooth and creamy, and there is also tea and filtered coffee available. You would expect nothing less from "a bunch of dedicated coffee professionals who eat, sleep and make coffee." With St. Ali heritage, this is Sensory Lab's fourth location. Less of a tasting space, such as their Bourke Street, Little Collins Street and Port Melbourne laboratories, than a coffee-purist's haven, Sensory Lab Collins is a simple and basic cafe, albeit with excellent coffee. The design is fresh but nostalgic, with an old-fashioned black-flip clock on the back wall, clean lines, and slide-lettering itemising the basic menu. The service is friendly and personal.