Walk into Assembly and you feel like you’ve stumbled on a curated coffee boutique in the back streets of Kyoto.
Pastel green canisters of curated coffee and tea are ranged on pegboard shelves, and beautiful coffee and tea brewing gear is displayed in niches cut into the blonde wood walls.
Assembly’s owners Ollie Mackay and Chrissie Trabucco select their beans in weekly blind cuppings that rely on taste rather than the roaster’s reputation.
The result is outstanding seasonal single origins and blends from the likes of Mecca Espresso and Reuben Hills in Sydney and Melbourne’s Small Batch Roasting Co, as well as coffee you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in Melbourne: maybe an Ethiopia Adado from small Canberra roaster Barrio Collective Coffee, brewed in a Kalita pourover to make a delicate and super-clean cup.
Espresso brews are clean too, with juicy fruit and a savoury edge – the flavour is almost transparent, with minimal roast effects and very little of the nutty, chocolatey flavours of more usual espresso.
Batch brews by hand
Filter coffee for take-aways is batch-brewed through the Kalita – typical of Assembly’s hand-made approach.
When Assembly opened in 2013 it was a filter-only operation, and a filter bar and bench seating feature at the back of the original shop. The espresso bar opened in 2014, and in 2015 Mackay and Trabucco knocked a hole between the two spaces: most of the action is in the espresso bar now.
Coffee for home comes in 100-gram tins: perfect for a week’s worth of daily brews. The pricey but fine teas – an exotic range imported by Assembly from China, Taiwan and India – are packed in even smaller amounts.
But Assembly is one of Melbourne’s best spots to drink an expertly selected and brewed cup – or two.
Where 60/62 Pelham Street, Carlton
When Mon–Fri 7.30am–4pm, Sat 9am–4pm