Friday, December 11, 2009

Syphon, Sensory Lab, Melbourne

Sensory Lab1 – St Ali's new jaunt that has successfully smuggled specialty coffee into mainstream via David Jones, morning television, evening television and beyond – would surely not disappoint in the coffee department. I had no doubts about that. But where it could have disappointed was not looking as much like a lab as its name suggested. I'm talking about a laboratory. Not that other lab that I joked about recently (though "sensory lab" sounds like a synonym for "seeing-eye dog" to me).

“Wow, check it out! Lab coats!”
I was pretty happy. The lab coats seemed to come in roughly only one size, making them more like lab shirts for some of the taller staff members, but lab coats they were. Moving along down the list of Things That Make Something Look Like a Lab we have the lab equipment. I want to see beakers. Preferably bubbling. The more contraptions I've never seen before, the better. And Sensory Lab had them in droves.

Stirring. Bubbling. Halogen heating. This sure as fuck was a lab, and experiments were indeed taking place. Just when I thought my lab equipment cup was full, I saw the cabinet behind the counter. Inside was a huge cold drip setup, with all the glass-encased malevolence of the Terminator's arm that they kept in that vault at Cyberdyne Systems. Want a cup of cold drip coffee? Wait there a while, we need two licensed security guards to turn a key simultaneously. Click.
But the most exciting bit about the cold drip display was that there was a laptop in there too. I had to know why. Temperature monitor? Microprocessor-controlled drip rate? Does it send a tweet when it's done brewing? SETI? I just had to ask.
“Sorry, I was just wondering what that laptop does?”
It turned out it was just there to play music.
But that's okay.
Dad could only get away from work for twenty minutes, so we were a bit short on time, but we were easily talked into having some of the Geisha, on syphon.
“You'd be mad not to try that one,” we were told. You can't really argue with that.
The syphoned geisha is the $12.00 cup of coffee that people have made such a big deal of. I don't see why. If they have a cup of coffee worth $12.00, so be it. It must be better, or rarer, than less expensive cups of coffee. The guy across the road from me owns a Maserati. When he bought it, I'm sure he knew there were other cars out there that cost less.

We were soon advised that some of the flavours would only become apparent at lower temperatures.
Dad was still in a hurry to get back to work, and the waiting time wasn't helping.
"So, I'm standing here waiting for my coffee to go cold?"
"Yeah. Sounds like a Joe Jackson song."
It probably would have made more sense to sit down with our syphons, while we waited for the temperature to equilibriumify itself, but then we wouldn't have seen the whole process.

So that's Sensory Lab1. Very much worth seeing if you're in the city, and even more worth drinking coffee from. That little 1 in the name didn't seem to refer to a footnote, so I guess it suggests there will soon be a Sensory Lab2.

1. this is not a footnote.
2. neither is this.


  1. My mum's assessment: "Look, I know you like your specialty coffee. But I must say I think the Wank Factor here seems a little high."

  2. Good on ya mum.
    Complexity of preparation/uniforms/terminology/learning curve does not necessarily correlate with enjoyment.