It’s pouring with rain outside my studio, the lads are back from School and the babe has woken from his afternoon slumber.
To be fair I could reach for a glass of chilled white wine despite the short week I have had but failing that( it is not yet 3:30pm) I have satisfied my need for a slurp with a Holly’s coffee takeaway coffee.
Holly’s is in Ballynahinch but I love it and needed a break from work so ventured from East Belfast, along the familiar roads where I spent my childhood and attended High School, past my old doctors surgery to get an Americano for me and a flat white for Michael.
I came across Holly’s because it is part owned by Allen who is my best friend’s brother in law and also a great supporter of my work.
He is one of the people who has been in my life so long that I don’t remember life without him and his wife Shelly! I have admired Al’s sense of business and quiet drive to succeed for many years, long before I had my own business.
Janice is the other partner in this operation (seen two pics above) and is so hands on with the eatery side of the business that I don’t think I have seen her without an apron on in two years.
Holly’s slogan on their website reads:
“Brewers of very fine coffee and bakers of all that we serve” and you can be sure that Janice will be the one behind the making.
She is gifted in abundance with creativity. As an artist I love the sketches Janice makes in her book before baking. A sure sign of someone who has a method and creative flair from the off set.
Today I inhaled half a malteser bun (it was supposed to be for my hubby) and a florentine which takes me back to my youth when Mum and her friend Liz made endless amounts of florentines.
I managed to have the job as a child of licking the bowl clean after using a knife to splay the under side of the sticky creations.
As you well know from my paintings and my words on here, there is nothing I love more than a big dose of nostalgia. Janice’s home baking does just that. It conjures up positive associations with home baked goodness.
But at the heart of it all .. is coffee.
A line I spotted on Holly’s facebook which envelopes their love and care for all things coffee. I knew their love for coffee was deep when I tried to grab a bag of ground coffee and dash out the door to then be asked if I would prefer it ground before departure! Freshness and coffee aromas from the minute you walk in the door.
I have spoken before about my love of coffee and so has my Aussie coffee loving friend Sarah in her post here however in the last two years my love for the merky brown stuff has grown stronger.
I often ask myself if the love for coffee is because life has become “busier” and I “need” caffeine to get through the day.
Since they found my heart defect three years ago I am bound to no more than three coffees in my day so I (not even joking) plan my day around my coffee. Maybe the love is because of the strength in the flavour, the escapism for a few minutes, the takeaway cup in hand as I leisurely walk my dog…
Some days I think, based on my appreciation of Holly’s coffee and their ethos of having a love for coffee at the heart- it’s a simple exchange between sipping and simultaneously allowing time to stand still or at least slow down.
The quiet is there in Holly’s even with the door of the renovated funeral parlour opening and closing showing the bustle of people on the outside world.
Warm toned walls in the narrow space keep in check with the smells of baking and cooking and the sporadic thud as a waitress re stocks the espresso handle. Followed by the rustle of a take home paper bag filled with Janice’s home baked treats.
As a freelance artist I have found snippets of coffee culture outside of Belfast which brings me such joy. People who are passionate enough about coffee and community to open a coffee shop and dedicate hours of work to running it. The act of driving twenty minutes to get a Holly’s coffee is part of the fun process for me. Especially when I can work at my laptop and step outside of the Belfast busyness.
So what is it that invites me in to Holly’s coffee shop and that keeps me coming back? A road trip to Newcastle is always met with a pit stop at Holly’s, the food and the colour, meeting my sister in law or my friends from 20 years ago when we went to the nearby School together. Perhaps taking my Mum out to enjoy baked goods or allowing the baby to sleep while we drive as a family at the weekend.
Coffee, for me, is like interiors and weddings in our current day and age – it can be moulded and adapted and paired with so many other treats beside the dipping crumbly biscuit.
Holly’s open up their space for nights with a difference including this whiskey night where you can see the delicious whiskey brownies paired with their coffee. The next one is May 10th so get in quick!
Another is gin night in June which you can book here and take a friend.
I love this switch up in Northern Ireland’s social calendar. Premises opening up for creative collaborations (last week I had my art and wine workshop in Goodness rocks which is another family run bistro with a passion for change) and I am thrilled that Holly’s is on board with the culture of flavour, community and laughter… with coffee at the heart.
Find them on social then take a look and taste for yourself!
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