By: Sarah Plummer Register-Herald Reporter
Photo: Chris Jackson, The Register-Herald
Photo Caption: Daniel Harding and his family own a 25 acre alpaca farm. The family shears their livestock and sends the wool to Morning Star Fiber in North Carolina to be spun into all-natural, undyed alpaca yarn, which they sell in the store alongside handmade knit and felted items.
OAK HILL — Fayette County’s first coffee micro-roaster — and one of only a handful in the state — is keeping it craft, local and all in the family. ¶ Top Knot Coffee and Artisan Shop in downtown Oak Hill is an alpaca-themed coffee shop and cafe offering up good brews and a line of products featuring West Virginian artisans.
Owner Daniel Harding, who owns the store in partnership with his parents Angela and Roger Harding and wife Stephanie, roasts his own coffee beans through direct trade coffee organizations that connect him directly with small growers around the world.
Their house blends are a medium dark-roasted Peruvian bean and a more mild medium-roasted Nicaraguan bean.
“The art and science of roasting intrigued him,” explained mom Angela. “His interest and research about developing his own roast was important. That’s what helped us make the decision to go ahead and roast our own.”
Top Knot also offers espresso-based drinks, and they have a more traditional taste. Daniel said he wants people to be able to taste the coffee, and his lattes, mochas and “alpaca-ccinos” are full-bodied and flavorful.
He uses a deep, dark-roasted Italian style espresso blend he also roasts himself.
Daniel said he’s always loved coffee, and with his family’s 25-acre alpaca farm selling natural yarn and knit products, creating a space to serve coffee, a limited menu, and provide a venue for local artisan producers to sell their products made sense.
About 10 years ago, the Hardings purchased the farm in Oak Hill.
Daniel had just seen alpaca farms in Utah and suggested his family consider putting alpacas on their newly acquired land.
Their small, 8-alpaca farm quickly grew and they now have 30 of the animals. The family shears their livestock and sends the wool to Morning Star Fiber in North Carolina to be spun into all-natural, undyed alpaca yarn, which they sell in the store alongside handmade knit and felted items.
It is from their alpacas that Top Knot gets its name, which references the cluster of long, curly hair that adorns an alpaca’s head.
Overseen with Daniel’s experience in the restaurant industry, the shop is family-owned and operated and if focused on bringing another local option to downtown Oak Hill.
“We wanted a small, intimate location on Main Street where visitors could come and visit other businesses,” explained Angela. “We hope we can encourage other people to bring in more unique shops. The dream would be to have a number of businesses where people can spend an afternoon and walk the stretch of Main Street, visit several places and have lunch.”
The space is small but cozy, a comfortable place to grab-and-go or linger and visit with friends.
Top Knot offers a limited menu of smashed sandwiches (what his kids call panini-style), salads and soups.
“We want to focus on having a small but good menu, and we get our food from a local West Virginia distributer, but put the focus on quality, art and coffee,” Daniel explained.
In addition to their artisan products — like soaps, jewelry and felted purses — visitors can buy Top Knot’s own whole bean coffee in half-pound and pound bags.
They currently offer pastries and fruit for breakfast, but plan on adding a hot, smashed breakfast sandwich soon.
Top Knot Coffee and Artisan Shop is located at 127 Main Street in Oak Hill.
They are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information, follow them on Facebook or call 681-823-5503.
Read the original and view the photo gallery here.