咖啡實驗室 Coffee Lab is the perfect yet unassuming example of the hidden gems that Taipei has to offer. Located a little ways down a street leading off a busy road, the cafe is removed away from the noisy traffic and hustle and bustle, but still easy to find–for those who know where to look.
Even from a distance, one could see that the front of the cafe is host to an array of plants and furniture, including a coffee bean grinder in the corner, illuminated by warm yellow light pouring out unobstructed from the glass windows behind. A rack was provided for guests to remove and store their shoes before entering.
Upon pulling open the door–and thereby unintentionally inspiring an ill-fated bid for freedom by the shop’s chubby orange-and-white, stub-tailed cat–I was struck first by how small the place was. After overcoming my initial claustrophobia, however, I was able to welcome a sense of privacy and homeyness. There were several two-person tables near the front, as well as counters along the walls and sofas in the back, all of which were neatly arranged in a way that did not make the cafe feel cramped. High on the wall opposite the tables hung a large blackboard filled with a handwritten menu, which most notably boasted coffees from a surprisingly extensive variety of beans (which are also available for purchase), as well as a few in-house food items.
Being unfamiliar with coffee bean varieties, I was having difficulty deciding but the employee was nice and happy to give me some suggestions as to which one to order, and after doing so I settled at the table closest to the window, behind the aforementioned cat, which was sitting on the counter staring moodily out through the glass into the relentless rain and darkening skies.
The coffee, which I was told was a medium-roast made from beans of a Honduran strand, smelled wonderful and tasted quite good (sorry, again I’m no coffee expert), although the subtle sour notes became more pronounced as the coffee cooled. I sipped the coffee as I listened to the music playing soft and subdued in the background, accompanied by the pleasant scrape and staccato of coffee beans being sorted by hand. The sounds and the interior decor–tasteful and charming, without being overdone–made for a very relaxing, quiet and comfortable atmosphere. It’s a bit hard to explain how, but I came away with the impression that the employee (owner?) possessed a kind of quiet pride towards their coffee selection, yet still wanted to create an environment where people could enjoy their coffee in comfort, something that I greatly appreciated.
- Quality (albeit somewhat pricey) coffee in a quiet, homey space
- Free wifi – Yes
- Outlets – Yes
- English menu – No
咖啡實驗室 Coffee Lab
No. 6, Lane 64, Section 2, Zhongxiao East Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
11:00am – 8:00pm (Sunday-Thursday)
11:00am – 9:30pm (Friday-Saturday)