CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> The Holt

Back Buzz - July 31, 2016

pumping heartThe Holt, 156 Arundel Street, Cultural Industries Quarter, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

When I first read about The Holt I said to myself, "Hmmm, an otter's den where you can buy espresso." And then I said, "But wait a minute -- this is a place that's obviously serious about coffee, regardless of the presence of otters." So one morning I scheduled a half hour before work to make a visit. Due to the fact that First Bus suddenly decided to decrease the frequency of my bus without letting regular riders know until a week later -- which resulted in me waiting an extra 15 minutes for a bus -- when I got to the cafe I had a mere 15 minutes to spend. Oh well, c'est la grande détérioration des services publics.

Nestled into an industrial storefront across a narrow road from Sheffield Joinery, in a neighbourhood splashed with large swaths of artistic graffiti, Opened in February of this year, the Holt is a large warehouse of a room with a beaten-up floor (the term stressed just sounds too planned), with weathered wooden beams and a large works skylight overhead. Wooden tables are sparsely scattered here and there, leaving plenty of space; the walls are decorated with art; and plant stands hang from the ceiling. The site was formerly a collaborative work space and photo/film location for hire, and before that it was a bakery, and before that an industrial plastics company. And back in the early 20th century 156 Arundel Street housed a beer retailer. The beams still show the wear and tear of the former uses of the space, imparting an authentic feel to the environment (although I suppose the workers of early 20th century Sheffield probably didn't drink espresso).

Over in the far corner by the stairway was a small bar with three casks, as well as some turntables on a long table. As this particular Friday was the first day of Tramlines, the bar and turntables were set up for a live music event that night, with cask ales from Sheffield's own Exit 33 brewery.

When I ordered my double macchiato I was offered a choice of two blends, so I went for the Dark Peak blend, which is rich and chocolatey. It was a very pleasant macchiato, nicely served and robust, with a good caffeine jolt that roused me from my sleep-deprived condition. At £2.20 it's a bit too pricey to be a regular stop for me, but I'll happily stop in every now and then, especially for the atmosphere. It was a rare warm and muggy day, but as the front wall is completely open to the pavement the cafĂ© stays cool and airy. Besides the coffees which are supplied by Sheffield's own Smith Street roasters, the Holt features teas from Birdhouse, hot chocolate from Cocoa Wonderland, and milk from Our Cow Molly, all local businesses. The sandwiches, soups, and baked treats also use local provisions which include breads from Gerry's Bakery, fresh herbs from the Herb Table, and other items from Urban Pantry.

I would have been more than happy to spend awhile sitting in this wonderful space, perhaps having a bite of something and maybe working a bit on my novel polishing. But alas, my 15 minutes were soon up. I will definitely allow more time next time, although I might be in danger of falling into a time and space warp where I don't have to go to work after all. We can dream, can't we?

Speaking of time and space warps reminds me of a Facebook posting session from four years ago:

My bra strap has been abducted by extraterrestrials. Be thankful that alien technology is advanced as it is and that they didn't need to take the lot. They will use the strap to extrapolate a whole bra. This is probably the strangest status I've ever seen. I'm speechless... Better it than you. What do they have planned with your bra strap and all my missing socks?... He he, it was planned by the evil ones. First it is a purse strap on a grand voyage, perhaps near Seal Beach. It appears to have first occurred in southern California and then, what do you know, it's a bra strap in Sheffield. I'd like to point out that I wasn't in the bra when the strap was abducted. The aliens must have confiscated it from the laundry basket. At least they left all the socks behind. The strap fits in with the ultimate scheme. They have no need for cups...