On a cold Saturday morning we set off, running slightly late, and with a few wrong turns we finally ended up at the place we wanted to visit for a few months now. The Holt. The reason we were excited to see what’s inside – well literally, we heard a lot of great things. We got closer and we are greeted by a few random items and a table, but if you look closer a few bags on the floor are coffee grounds for compost and the painting on the wall is actually an art piece made by Coloquix – Sheffield’s own artist.
Slowly we step inside and in a quiet and spacious coffee shop we meet Jess – the creator of The Holt.
This is where the story begins.
The Holt Crew
Baristas, Roasters & One big family…
After a brief introduction we sit down with a pot of freshly made V60 by Jess herself. The up-cycled and renovated creative space slowly becomes more lively and with fruity tasting speciality coffee our conversations drifts into the story.
It started a few years ago when Jess was still in the public sector and together with her partner Gareth they decided that it was time for something that eventually became a coffee shop & creative space for events.
”It wasn’t easier than the previous job, more hours and more responsibility, but the feeling of independence was greater than ever.”
The Holt is in the heart of the industrial estates that are now being turned into student accommodation and new business areas. The development gave the pair a chance to take over a decrepit building and make it into something beautiful. The space is now slowly growing into one of the nicest speciality coffee spaces in town.
The venture started with just the two of them planning, decorating, reconstructing and purchasing equipment. It really is a labour of love and everything in there was specially chosen, upcycled or built by the pair. In the past two years, the team has now grown into a crew of six with a roastery business also in the mix. Baking, brewing and roasting, the whole team plays an important role in making this creative space run smoothly.
My eye quickly drifts away to an astonishing roaster in the middle of the cafe. An industrial Giesen roaster. In my experience this is the first coffee shop in Sheffield that has such a luxury.
Smith Street coffee roasters – says Jess with a smile on her face. During their cafe development they met Trevor, who was a one-man band with a roaster in his garden shed and an endless dedication to coffee. Soon after, the Holt and Smith St. came together to live under one roof. At the moment Trevor is teaching a few staff members about the roasting process.
Interior & Creative Space
Art, Soul & Tranquillity…
We slowly drift away to have a look around the space and explore what’s hidden around. While talking about supporting the local community and building relationships, you can spot straight away that everything is locally sourced. Apart from guest coffee that come from Falcon Coffees, everything is Sheffield based. Starting from Our cow molly dairy and ice-cream to good friends Birdhouse Tea next door, Gerry’s and Urban Pantry bakeries and Cocoa Wonderland.
With a spacious and open design – Jess talks us through what events, exhibitions and even weddings they host and how much time it requires.
”There are a lot of requests that we have to turn down just because we cannot over-promise and then ruin someone’s celebration”
Jess explains that with the number of staff members and busy schedule that they have, they don’t want to be a business that promises and then doesn’t deliver or does it poorly.
The area in which the cafe is based is surrounded by independent businesses, artists and galleries. The Holt hosts art exhibitions on a regular basis and having a coffee and breakfast while indulging in art is a great way to attract and support local artists.
Jess hopes that The Holt will be able to go further down the path of live events in the future, which we are excited to see.
The space is eclectic and bohemian with plenty of decorations around the room to catch your eye. From hanging islands created from used pallets and climbing ropes to disco balls and old chairs. It gives a feel of uniqueness and playfulness, but most of all – the feeling of home. A lot of places, either coffee shops or restaurants, that are opened in a rush or that are following trends tend to have the feeling of artificialness, but The Holt feels different. All it takes is to stand in the middle of the open space and you’ll see how much time, effort and detail has been in all of it. Jess explains that it has been an organic growth and the place has developed over the past 2 years as they have grown and learned alongside it.
As a little aside on the vibe of the place – they are dog friendly, have lots of cosy blankets and plugs for coffee-shop studying/working. Just a few extra bonuses!
Coffee & Food
Speciality, Veggie & Fresh…
The second we stepped in – my eyes landed on the San Remo Verona RS espresso machine. For a coffee enthusiast like me it is an absolute beauty and it does add charm to the place.
With a variety of vegan and vegetarian cakes to go with your coffee, you can start your day with either a cake or you are always welcome to go for their breakfast or brunch menu. From eggs Benedict to vegan sausage sandwich to mushrooms on toast, you will not be disappointed by the freshness and the taste of the food. Remember? Sourced fresh from local businesses!
Coffee at The Holt is exceptional. The home espresso is San Ignasio from Peru and the guest espresso is always changing. The filter coffee that Jess made us was Rocko Mountain from Ethiopia with beautiful fruity flavours. You can have decaf speciality options with soy or oatly milk. V60 and flat white that I have tried exceeded my expectations.
This is why there will be a follow up on Holt’s coffee on our mini series just on coffee in upcoming weeks! Keep your eyes peeled.
It was truly a pleasure meeting with Jess and her crew and exploring the story behind her business. We will be coming back for more coffee and food and hopefully to see the roaster in action.
Make sure you read all about coffee at The Holt later!
Thank you for reading and hope you enjoyed it,
Augustinas & Ellie
Review of: The Holt – Cafe and Creative Space
156 Arundel St, Sheffield S1 4RE