The Sensory Lab: a coffee shop in Marylebone


Recently, one evening returning from work I noticed a new store front on Wigmore Street, near the corner of Thayer Street, intriguingly called The Sensory Lab. It was closed but I stuck my face up to the glass to peer inside and saw a beautiful coffee bar – very minimalist with stools at the bar and shelves stocked with coffee beans and other paraphernalia. I could tell it would be great coffee, so a few days later on my way to work, I stopped in.

Inside, there is a gleaming espresso machine on a long bar that runs the length of the shop, and if you drink in, the coffee is served in bright blue china cups. The baristas (baristos?) wear black trousers and plaid button downs and are very friendly.

My beverage of choice – a latte “for take away” (that would be British for “to go”) – was served with some beautiful steamed milk art, and was fantastic. Plus, it was just the right temperature when they handed it to me, so I didn’t have to blow frantically and risk burning off my taste buds.  It has quickly become a routine stop on my morning commute.

Sometimes you get lulled into the convenience of, well, convenience, and forget that Starbucks really isn’t that good, in addition to being a chain and therefore by definition impersonal, not to mention that most of what they serve isn’t coffee at all but rather some strange derivative involving complex descriptions that have to be said in a certain order like skinny-caramel-frappa-latte-extra-shot-no-whipped-cream. I mean seriously, would you like fries with that and the dressing on the side? (end rant)

Against this background, the five or so options on the menu at The Sensory Lab (with names like drip coffee, espresso, latte and macchiato) are a welcome alternative.

Added bonus: while I waited I was served a small glass of water. It really is the little things in life that make a difference. They also serve a selection of pastries, muffins etc. as well as a varied assortment of coffee making gadgets, some of which look like they came from a chemist’s lab. I haven’t found out what they do yet … But if I do I’ll keep you posted.

Vital statistics:
Location: 75 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 1QD
Tube: Bond Street
Prices: £2.60 for a latte