Review: Sensory Lab Steadfast Blend (Melbourne, Australia)

My second stop on my Australia coffee tour was to Sensory Lab on Bourke Street in Melbourne. This was like no other coffee shop I’d ever seen; it shared space with a David Jones retailer (looked to me like a department store?) and the space really did feel more like I had walked into some sort of upscale space than sells cashmere and leather wallets as opposed to a cafe. The packaging was clever, with a nod to the periodic table of elements (in keeping with the “lab” theme), but as a musician, I really have to question who thought “drum machine” would be better than simply “drums”?

This particular bag didn’t make mention of whether it was meant for drip or for espresso, but it did note that it was a blend of two coffee origins: Colombia Tolima and Brazil Sertaozinho. Since the bag wasn’t specific, I opted to try these beans as drip.

Whole bean: Dark chocolate and apple.

French press: Clean and super subtle flavors. Hint of chocolate, but more strongly tasted of the classic “coffee” flavor that so many people are after.

Chemex: Sweet flavors of chocolate-covered almonds. I wrote “damn good” in my notes; this coffee blend was obviously geared toward balance, sweetness, and classic crowd-pleasing flavors, and I think it succeeds admirably.

AeroPress: Similar to the French press cup, this preparation method yielded a “classic” cup of coffee. No bitterness or burnt flavors – just a rich, slightly sweet, balanced cup. It had the sort of flavor that people would like in a coffee candy (minus sugar).

V60: Similar to the Chemex cup but less sweet.

Summary: Blends are a great option if you find light-roasted single origins to be hit-and-miss for your taste. Brazilian coffees are particularly known for their chocolaty and nutty notes, so this blend ticks all the boxes for anyone looking for a coffee that is not sour or bitter, but has a good balance. I liked this best brewed in the Chemex because I felt this method brought the inherent sweetness out of the beans the most effectively, but it really was good in all four methods. I didn’t get to try this as espresso, but I suspect it would have been excellent that way as well. (And as I was typing up this review, I went to the roaster’s website and found that this IS meant as an espresso blend after all. Oh well! I’m not sorry to have tried these beans as drip though, as the result was pretty stellar.)

From the roaster: Red apple jam. Chocolate fudge. Balanced.

Sensory Lab Coffee Steadfast Espresso

Review conducted 11-12 days post-roast.

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