2/F HMA 773 Building, 773 JP Rizal Avenue, Barangay Poblacion, Makati City
Open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Monday to Sunday)
(SPOT.ph) In order to get into Assembly Hall, a new coffee shop hidden in a nondescript strip of low-rise buildings along J.P. Rizal, you have to walk through a leafy-green-framed door set against a chic black facade, into a terrazzo tile and mirror-lined lobby, and up a long flight of stairs where at the top, a backlit signage reads: “COFFEE.”
You’ll be greeted by an open, ambient industrial space of glass walls, Emerald City-esque accent lights, and stainless steel surfaces softened by lush greenery, wooden furniture, and, of course, the warm and subtle scent of coffee brewing.
This new rustic coffee shop in Poblacion ushers in New York coffee culture to the district:
The concept is simple: Assembly Hall is a coffee shop that encourages quick coffee pick-me-ups and leisurely hangs with friends, and offers a space for unbothered focus work for those who need a change of scenery from the office.
“I love coffee, and you can’t talk to me until I have a cup–I’m that type of person,” jokes founder Harvey Alumisin. He also runs the HMA 773 building that the shop is housed in, where neighboring spaces include his corporate office and a soon-to-be-open gallery and retail pop-up area.
“One day, I just didn’t want to work at the office, and I went around looking for a place that was conducive for work and had really good coffee. So I thought: Why not create a space that had this concept? I also really always envisioned the building to have a coffee shop, so I tapped a few friends, Jay Wijesekara, Mica Ting, and Tonet Quiogue to be partners, and they were so game.”
The menu is as simple as simple gets: a list of 10 coffee items and 6 non-coffee items. “Our team really had to be on the same page in creating the menu,” says Alumisin, whose travels inspire and inform the coffee culture Assembly Hall champions. “When I was living in New York, I lived in Nolita when it was still a little rough around the edges. In many places there, coffee shops are just coffee shops that have menus that are quick and easy to choose from. Similarly, we’re just a coffee shop, and serve a shortlist of coffees and a selection of pastries, just so we could really highlight the drinks.”
“When I travel, I also really like spaces that are out there, so my inspirations are a little off-the-grid. Assembly Hall is similar–it’s not in the crazier part of Poblacion, it’s in the middle of J.P. Rizal!”
Their signature drink makes the field trip worth it. The Campfire Latte (P225) features a double shot of espresso, dark cocoa, a pillowy housemade marshmallow, and a sprinkle of dark brown sugar on top. It’s torched to finish, so the mallow softens and the brown sugar is melted to a glazed crisp–the type of drink to soothe and comfort without being too tooth-achingly sweet. We recommend ordering it hot.
Other items on the menu include coffee all-stars: a Flat White (P145), Cortado (P145), Cold Brew (P130), Latte (P165), Americano (P125), and a Cappucino (P145). All are proudly made by a stainless steel bar with a modern modbar on display.
Their house blend uses specialty-grade, locally roasted South American beans, thoughtfully selected to produce dark chocolate notes with a hint of natural caramel sweetness to keep it friendly to Filipino preferences. Non-dairy milk options are available, and customers can choose from Bonsoy soy milk and Minor Figures oat milk.
If you’re looking for something sweet to round out your afternoon or to escape the blisteringly hot outdoors of Manila, dig into the Affogato (P205)–a simple, well-loved combination of espresso and smooth vanilla ice cream.
Non-coffee drinkers are also welcome with house-made and -brewed teas like the Matcha Latte (175) and loose-leaf Rose Tea (P150), served in a glass teapot so you can pour as you please.
Assembly Hall’s pastry display proudly houses Filipino homebaker products from Valerie’s Kitchen and 50 Shades of Dough. The Tres Leches (P250) has a salted caramel drizzle that makes it ultra-addictive, the Apple Crumble Pie (P245) is warm and buttery, the Pavlova (P270) is a luxurious treat that has fresh berries sitting atop, and the Mushroom and Goat Cheese Empanada (P125) is rich and savory. Their full range of pastries and savory bites are freshly baked and delivered to the shop daily.
“We just want people to come in, hang out for a bit…maybe work for a bit, and just enjoy the space. We specifically designed the shop to have outlets everywhere so you can charge your phones and laptops,” says Alumisin. Inspired by themes and colors he loves, and designed with Mara Manalo of Studio Mara, Assembly Hall was meant for a gathering of a community. All the wooden furniture and fixtures were handmade on site, and pretty Instagram-friendly corners and mirrors are plenty. Their penchant for detail goes all the way to the bespoke aprons their baristas wear, as these were designed by Ziggy Savella.
Assembly Hall will also soon introduce cocktails but until then, the careful execution that comes with their core coffee menu and the beautiful space that hosts it are reason enough to come through and check it out.
Photos by Majoy Siason
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