Well-situated in the West Hollywood Design District, The Assembly is a small, inviting, almost-hidden cafe and retail space that opened in June 2015. Sleek wooden finishes, a wall full of Poketo goods for sale, and an oasis-like patio: all of The Assembly's thoughtfully curated details make it feel like a designer’s dream coffee shop.
Shi Jun Ng, a former barista at Cafe Demitasse in Santa Monica, is behind The Assembly. Working with designer Kellie Patry—who also worked on Blacktop Coffee in the Arts District—Ng was able to create the clean, open, minimalist space she felt “would lend itself to a number of uses—a dynamic, flexible space that housed a coffee shop, retail, community space, art gallery, event space.” With a love of Scandinavian design, Ng’s goal was to create “an inviting environment for people to want to ‘assemble' and interact. We made conscious decisions in the design to facilitate interactions—for example, larger communal-type tables and benches as opposed to individual two-top tables.” The back patio is no less inviting, with clay pots lined up on wood-slat shelves, and both sunlight and shade.
Inspired by her grandfather's general store and cafe in Asia, Ng wanted to create a shop within a shop—a shop within a coffee shop, in this case. Originally, she sourced various locally and nationally made goods herself, but one day Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung—the husband-and-wife team behind Poketo, a design-driven shop and lifestyle brand headquartered in LA—dropped into the shop. “[It] sparked a conversation that led to our ongoing collaboration,” says Ng. “[We have the] freedom to pick and choose what merchandise we carry so that it has a cohesive feel with the business and space.”
Fashionable goods like bags and backpacks, colorful stationery items, journals, and magazines made up the Poketo wall on my visit. The cafe's menu of standard coffee drinks relies on Counter Culture Coffee. Ng decided to partner with Counter Culture after being impressed “with their never-ceasing commitment to quality, sustainability, and fair business practice. It’s an ideal that I also seek to follow with regards to The Assembly—conscious choices in our partners, vendors, and how we operate as a business have been based off these guiding principles of quality and social responsibility.” The stylish bar is fitted with a La Marzocco Linea PB. The Hario V60 pour-overs and FETCO CBS daily brews are ground on a Mahlkönig EK 43, while the espresso is ground in Mazzer Robur and Kony grinders. Recent specials have included multi-colored pride lattes served during LA’s Pride Parade.
Tea selections come from August Uncommon Tea, matcha is via PANATĒA, and cold-pressed juice is supplied by Clover Juice. Hungry customers can choose from sandwiches, salads, fruit, and yogurt parfaits from local eatery Foodlab; pastries from Farmshop; and, if you happen to stop by on Donut Friday, Donut Snob’s tasty “hole foods.” The Assembly also carries Letterpress Chocolate bars from the LA chocolatier.
The Assembly has already hosted design and art events, which are just the beginning. “We recently agreed to host an event for women in business, and are in talks to host a monthly Women in Film movie night on our back patio,” Ng says, adding that cuppings and coffee classes are also in the works—a well-rounded program that suits this diverse space.