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A new business to buzz about

Nanette Knecht stands with her 13-year-old daughter Evanna with some of their goats Dakota Dally, from left, Penelope and Dakota Rose. Knecht recently started her own company called Fat Goat Coffee Co. named after the family's goats which are beans that have been roasted and packaged by our family-owned parent company called Maple City Roasters in Indiana. (Matt Gade / Republic)

MOUNT VERNON — Nanette Knecht loves getting people together.

And what better way to do that than over a good cup of coffee?

Knecht started Fat Goat Coffee Co. in January and operates out of her home.

"I love when people experience the coffee and say, 'Wow, this is really good,'" she said during a recent interview with The Daily Republic. "Introducing them to something new is exciting. And because I love the coffee, it's fun. It's the best part of my day."

So far, she takes her coffee to vendor fairs, hosts small parties, offers wedding table gifts and is set to do school fundraisers. For gifts or fundraisers, she can have custom labels made for the coffee bags to match décor or theme.

Her ultimate goal is to either have a storefront in Mount Vernon or convert a camper into a mobile coffee shop to travel to various events, including vendor fairs, car shows, and craft shows.

"We'll see how it grows," she said. "If it grows enough to do the storefront, that would be awesome. But it's more realistic right now to do the camper."

She purchases the coffee from her cousin, who owns Maple City Roasters in Michigan City, Ind. He personally sources his beans through small farmers in Africa and Asia, and then goes home to roast each batch himself.

"Every order I get is fresh roasted," she said. "He does the flavoring himself and roasts it to perfection. The flavoring is just perfect."

She offers a variety of roasts from light to dark, but also offers flavored coffee like Fresh Crumb Cake, Blueberry Cinnamon Crumble, Butter Rum and Hazelnut.

Knecht didn't just wake up and decide to sell coffee one day. She has always wanted to own her own business but wasn't sure what it would be. Knecht began drinking her cousin's coffee when he started Maple City Roasters eight years ago. Through her mother's influence, she began seriously considering selling the coffee in the last couple of years and in January, she made the leap.

"I didn't know how well it was going to take off, but I finally just decided, 'Let's do it,'" Knecht said.

She said Fat Goat Coffee is different because the coffee is always fresh, flavors are not overpowering and it's unique because it's family-owned. She also offers exotic loose-leaf tea in several flavors, such as Warming Crimson Berry, Chai Black, Chamomile Relaxing and Earl Grey. Knecht does not keep a lot of coffee or tea on hand to prevent it from going stale, but she's able to have a shipment arrive quickly when customers order.

Knecht chose the name Fat Goat Coffee Co. after a culmination of ideas. She heard the legend of goats discovering coffee beans approximately 1,000 years ago. The herder Kaldi found his goats eating red beans off plants and afterward they would bounce all over the place as if they gained extra energy from the beans. The legend continues that a monk later found if he roasted the beans and boiled them in water, he could create an energetic drink, and thus coffee was born.

On top of that, the Knechts raise goats on their farm and their children show them in 4-H. And a fun side note, Knecht once saw a coffee shop named Fat Cat Coffee.

"So, I thought, why not Fat Goat Coffee?" she laughed. "They are the energetic discoverer of the coffee bean."

As fate would have it, she met her husband in high school. He grew up in Mount Vernon, but later moved to Indiana, where the couple met and has been together since. They decided to move to South Dakota in 2004 to be closer to his family. Knecht works full time at AKG in Mitchell, but has a passion for coffee and people that drives her ambition to be a business owner. If she has questions, she turns to her mother, who is also a business owner, for advice.

Knecht aims to keep her business small and simple, continue to sell independently and has no plans to partner with other stores. She's working on additional marketing to enhance her website and Facebook page, and plans to begin more advertising over the summer.

"I want to be successful, to keep it going," Knecht said. "I want to introduce the coffee to people and I hope they like it."

For more information or to contact Knecht, visit www.fatgoatcoffee.com.

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