Solar Café coming to Hilliard

Hilliard will soon be home to a café that serves sun-roasted coffee.

Set to open this summer at 4006 Main St., Solar Café will be the first licensee in the eastern United States for Solar Roast Coffee, as well as the base for its eastern wholesale and distribution operations.

Brothers David and Michael Hartkop founded Solar Roast Coffee in 2004 in Central Point, Ore.

“David was playing around with solar concentrators and solar pumps at the time,” says Michael. “I wanted to roast coffee for a living, and David offered to make me a coffee roaster− as long as he could make it solar powered. With a little help from our friends and neighbors, and my dad’s old satellite dish, we invented a solar concentrator coffee roasting system: Helios 1, named after an ancient sun god.”

The first roaster took a month or two to construct.

“It was a lot of planning on paper, and days of gluing mylar sheeting onto plastic squares for mirrors,” he says.

Upon completion, the machine could roast one pound of coffee in about 20 minutes. The Helios 2, built the following year, could roast two pounds per batch. Eighteen months later, the H3 could roast five pounds per batch.

Solar Roast Coffee made its first sale in 2004 at Central Point’s 4th of July celebration.

“That created some online interest, and we operated as a mail-order business from ’04 to ’07, when we opened our coffee house in Pueblo, Colorado,” he says.

For the first time in Solar Roast Coffee’s history, it has excess product, meaning it can roast coffee for other coffeehouses.

“I have family in Ohio and I am looking forward to sending them into one of our partner shops for a cup of my coffee,” he says. “The distribution outlet is equally as amazing. My love is to roast coffee and create a product that my family and city can be proud of.  It is a dream to share my hard work and passion with the fine folks of Hilliard and the eastern states!”

The Solar Café in Hilliard will be located in in a converted carriage house behind a century-old residence. The first floor, which spans 750 square feet, will have an area for coffee and food prep, as well as enough seating for about 30 people.  The 500-square-foot second floor will have a living room/lounge  area with sofas, easy chairs, and coffee tables.

“Besides the excellent coffee, the highlight of the Solar Café will be the outside seating and dining areas,” says Blair Gordon, president and chief operating officer at Solar Café. “There will be a streetside 250-square foot patio space directly adjoining the public walk, then an additional 310-square-foot courtyard at the front door of the café.”

The courtyard will be landscaped with remnants and architectural artifacts from the Ohio Penitentiary, and feature a fire pit, a fountain, and an outdoor sculpture. Studios for local artists are planned for the adjacent residence, and their art will displayed and available inside the café.

“We unanimously passed our architectural changes and signage package through [Hilliard] Planning and Zoning Thursday, May 10, and we go before the Board of Zoning Appeals to resolve our parking requirements for the property on Thursday, May 17,” he says. “Pending a positive outcome, we will immediately begin construction on the architectural changes and interior finish.”

To learn more about Solar Café, visit