Detail from the A-board outside Marmalade in Holywell, a drawing of a hare in front of the mooon, with the caption "enter the Dark Woods..."Today’s Coffee Spot has been a long time coming, three years in fact, which is how long it’s been since Marmalade opened Holywell, the town where I was born and grew up. I’ve been a customer since it first opened in 2018, but travel and then the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way, and despite many visits on my returns to Holywell, it never seemed the right time to write it up. Until now, that is.

Marmalade is on Holywell High Street, literally at the entrance to the mews leading to the Coffee Bean, home of Sarah’s Caring Coffee. There’s not much to Marmalade, with almost as much seating outside on the broad pavement (three tables) as there is inside (a pair of tables and two window-bars). The coffee is from Dark Woods Coffee, with a standard espresso-based menu, while there are neat breakfast and lunch menus, plus plenty of cake.

April 2023: Marmalade is under new management. It’s still family owned, albeit by a different family. The layout is the same, although the decor is more minimalist, while the coffee is still from Dark Woods. There is now more of an emphasis on bread, with loaves and rolls for sale, along with a range of doughnuts, cakes and eclairs which I am slowly working my way through.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Marmalade on Holywell High Street on a sunny September day in 2021...
  • ... and seen here coming from the other direction.
  • This is the equivalent view from almost exactly one year earlier in October 2020. Just so...
  • ... you can get your bearings, next door is the entrance to the Coffee Bean (from 2018).
  • Back to Marmalade, and this is the view head on. There are three outside tables, one for...
  • ... each window and the third by the tree, the Town Hall behind (from June this year).
  • Check out the A-board (from Darkwoods Coffee).
  • As the A-board says, let's go in.
  • The counter occupies much of the back of Marmalade (the kitchen is in the room behind).
  • The seating, meanwhile, is off to the sides. This three-/four-person table is on the left...
  • ... with a two-person window-bar on a slightly raised platform at the front.
  • You normaly get a good view of the Town Hall from here (when it's not market day!)
  • There's an identical window-bar on the other side...
  • ... where you'll also find a two-/three-person table. That's it for seating, although the...
  • ... walls are stacked with goodies. These are from Marmalade in London (no relation)...
  • ... while there are various groceries on the retail shelves on the other side.
  • Fentimans, anyone?
  • There are also retail bags of the Crow Tree blend from Dark Woods.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot (from above the counter)...
  • ... while this one hangs in the window.
  • To business. You order at the counter at the back...
  • ... where you'll find the menu on the wall to the right...
  • ... with the espresso machine on the left.
  • The food is prepared in the kitchen at the back, while the cakes are off to the right.
  • That day's display was already a little depleted! I've been visiting Marmalade since...
  • ... it opened in 2018. This is the first photo I have, of a flat white from August 2018...
  • ... while this is a rare cake photo, of a pastéis de nata, which I had with my flat white.
  • More coffee to go, this one from September last year, another flat white in my Therma Cup.
  • Here's my HuskeeCup getting in on the action later on that year.
  • This year I seem to go for lunch. This (cheese and pickle) sandwich is from my latest visit...
  • ... while this tuna melt panini was from July...
  • ... and this cheese and tomato panini was from June.
  • I also tried the pancakes (from August this year).
  • And, of course, there were flat whites.
  • Many, many flat whites.
  • And an occasional espresso (pulled longer than I'd normally have, but tasting very good).
  • I'll leave you with another flat white, from my most recent visit earlier this month.
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Marmalade is a family run business, where you’re always assured of a warm welcome. Although I usually walk down from my Dad’s, there’s plenty of free parking, including some right outside on the High Street, making it a convenient stop if you’re travelling along the A55 expressway (a detour through Holywell, which takes you along the old route of the A55 before the expressway was built, will add about 10 minutes to your journey).

Marmalade occupies an old-fashioned shop front on the sunny (north) side of the street, the front almost entirely all glass, the central door recessed between two deep bay windows. There are usually three tables outside, one for each window and a third by a large tree. Most of the time you’ll have the pavement to yourself, except for Thursday, which is market day, when you’ll share it with various market stalls (ironically, I seem to have taken most of my pictures on Thursdays!).

Marmalade has a bright, open interior, with a stone-flagged floor and white walls, the sunlight streaming through the windows adding to a sense of space. The counter, which runs almost the full width of Marmalade, is at the back, while the seating is to either side. Each window has a two-person window-bar on a slightly raised floor, while there’s a three-/four-person round table to the left and a smaller two-/three-person table to the right. Meanwhile, retail shelves line the left- and right-hand walls, selling anything from candles and cushions to preserves and biscuits.

Marmalade has a simple menu with bacon baps, toast and toasted teacakes for breakfast, along with various sandwiches, panini and salad bowls for lunch, backed up by a range of cakes and Danish pastries, plus pancakes. Over the last year, I’ve popped in for lunch a few times, enjoying various sandwiches, panini and pancakes, as well as having the odd cake or two.

However, I’ve mostly been for coffee, with Marmalade using Crow Tree from Dark Woods Coffee, one of its darker blends, along with the Lamplight decaf. I’ve occasionally had the Crow Tree as an espresso, where it provided a rich, full-bodied shot without any bitterness, but my usual order is a flat white, where the Crow Tree goes well in milk, producing classic, chocolate notes.

Whatever the reason/excuse, it’s always great to pop in and say hi to the staff and have a quick natter over my coffee/lunch.

31A HIGH STREET • HOLYWELL • CH8 7TE +44 (0) 1352 217140
Monday 09:30 – 15:00 Roaster Dark Woods (espresso only)
Tuesday 09:30 – 15:00 Seating Tables, Window-bar; Tables (outside)
Wednesday 09:30 – 15:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 09:30 – 15:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 09:30 – 15:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:30 – 15:00 Wifi No
Sunday CLOSED Power No
Chain No Visits 1st October 2020; 22nd June, 7th July
10th August, 16th September 2021

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2 thoughts on “Marmalade

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