Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 31/40
A stunning Sydney morning had me driving to Bondi from Darlinghurst at 7am for an early morning swim. In a rather personal note, I mark in summer every year in our coastal city with a swim at Bondi, before I release it's a massive tourist trap (again).
I've come to Bondi for years thinking the coffee was going to be shit and look it generally is. However I was surprised on my last visit with a mate a few years ago that amongst the overpriced, over branded crap some quality places are about (if just a little off the main tourist trail) and I can see just a couple of years on that things are even better today.
St. Ali is a stable of the Melbourne coffee scene these days. However, aside from a few notable exceptions (Rupert and Ruby temporary pop up joint would be one) the roaster has not made its way around much.
Sensory Lab Bondi is the first official expansion from the Roaster and one I've been meaning to check out since my trip down to Melbourne over the winter.
Sensory Lab is a cafe with more men with beards and women with yoga mats than without. It’s a café all about its chilled Sunday morning music sessions, highly polished cement floors and walls, treated leather panels and lets not forget the Sydney cafe classic, the cronut. An interesting mix of inner city wank meets beachy hipster.
The table space can be hard to come by at Sensory Lab, but it does open up so do have patience. I waited awkwardly for about 2 mins for a table, pretending there was something really interesting on my phone, it worked out.
With a table marked out as mine. I ordered at the counter. While St. Ali house roast goes well with milk, I went a long black as that is what everyone else was drinking (zero calories people...).
My coffee turned up pretty quickly. The creama had one of those killer colours. Aroma wise, I found it to be quite fruity with a distinctly wonderful ashy smell.
The initial taste was quite acidic and punchy, but notably I found it be well balanced with lingering dusty cocoa flavours.
Letting it sit, which is well worth doing. Perhaps over reading an article from Vice, Junkee or pedestrian.tv to keep up-to-date with cool pop culture news? The waiting time dulls that initial punch but keeps the fruity flavours going - which at this stage I should note are more like apple fruit like than berry fruit like in flavour.
Overall, it's clearly a top line cafe that has worked out that Bondi is not just home to the tourist, but also coffee loving hipsters (did the over referenced and quoted 'Bondi Hipsters' give it away?). Sensory Lab is truly a Bondi cross Collins Street experience that is playing with a bean that may grow to a Campos like level with time. Sensory Lab is well worth the walk up away from the beach side cafes when you're next at the beach.
PS. while you're at Bondi buy a hot dog from the nipper's parents. the stall is there on Sunday next to Bucket List.
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 8/10
Experience (taste and smell): 9/10
Coffee total: 17/20
2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): Little Collins Street at a Bondi beach
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 31/40