Espresso Lab Microroasters

Overall Rating: 8.700

Address: 373-375 Albert Rd.
Cross Street(s): Mill St., in The Old Biscuit Mill
City, State ZIP: Cape Town, 7925
Neighborhood: Woodstock
Phone: +27.21.447.0845
Hours: M-F 8am-4pm; Sa 8am-2pm
Type of Establishment: Espresso Bar
Cafe Rating: 8.80
Barista: 9
Savvy: 9
Ambiance: 9
Presentation: 8
Consistency: Very consistent
Espresso Machine: La Marzocco
Coffee Rating: 8.60
Aroma: 9
Body: 8
Brightness: 9
Crema: 8
Flavor: 8
Taster's Correction: 1.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Citrus
Coffee Beans: Espresso Lab Microroasters
Cup Manufacturer: Continental
Price: $2.00
Last Update: 12/06/2010
First Reviewed: 07/21/2010
Notes: Coffee Sales; Coffee Accessory Sales; Outdoor Seating

In the transitioning Cape Town neighborhood of Woodstock, which out-Missions the Mission, this espresso bar and roaster looks like no other you've seen before. Located inside the art-conscious Old Biscuit Mill, this small space is a pristine, stark black-&-white-themed coffee lab that exudes meticulous organization. The theme is the periodic table, and it shows in the coffee drink menu through to the labeled buckets of greens. Opening a little over a year ago, they have three internal benches for seating plus a couple of outdoor patio tables. In back is a black & white Diedrich IR-7 roaster, and in front they offer Hario Buono kettle/V60 drip coffee as well as espresso from their two-group La Marzocco GB/5 (the locals haven't gone much for the filter coffee yet) - and the choice of an espresso blend or a single-origin Kenya (Gichatha-ini from the Gikanda Farmers Co-Operative Society, which won the SCAA's Best of Kenya). Their espresso blend (rated here) uses a Brazilian as a base, Costa Rica for the midrange, and a rotation of African coffees for brightness and "wildness". The espresso blend shot (R14) is dense without being too syrupy - with a textured dark-to-medium-brown crema and an upfront sweetness that's not too off-putting. Still, its citric bite on top of an herbal background makes for a uniquely layered espresso flavor - one that co-owner/lab-tech Renato says is influenced by the lighter roasts of his Oslo, Norway coffee upbringing combined with his Portuguese roots and what Africa adds to the cup. The shot of Kenya (also used for pour-over) was super bright with a pleasant floral and citric base - without being a brightness bomb. They also offer exquisite latte art with fine surface bubbles. They also offer a Cortado, essentially a Gibraltar. We've questioned whether we're a bit generous with our ratings here - the espresso flavors may be a little too unique for some. But the whole package works.