Ben Vollmar knows there are many coffee shops in northwest Ohio, but believes no one has seen anything like his newly established Flatlands Coffee in Bowling Green.
There, along with his wife and co-owner, Cassy, he has built a specialty craft-focused coffee shop using high quality ingredients from around the globe to manually brew flavors tailored to each specific customer’s taste.
“We’ve been planning this thing for eight years,” Vollmar said. “We’ve stuck with it, and it’s all for the love of Bowling Green and the product we have. We came in because there was nobody doing what we’re doing.”
A look at the precision coffee tools used to create each individual Flatlands’ cup. (Photo Credit: Ben Vollmar)
People have bean talking
Flatlands opened this past Halloween after a successful Kickstarter campaign. The shop has enjoyed a slow, steady growth while garnering significant buzz on social media, particularly Instagram and Twitter, where Vollmar interacts with his clientele.
“It’s been really great and an honor to hear [the buzz],” said Vollmar, who had previously been a stranger to social media. Old-fashioned word-of-mouth has also spread the news, and Vollmar said he consistently notices customers returning with friends.
Cassy has used her skills as an interior designer to fashion a look that restores the building’s original charm and provides modern, minimalistic and unfinished updates with a hip, urban flair.
Ben Vollmar’s wife Cassy used her interior design skills to hone the instantly trendy Flatlands’ look. (Photo Credit: Ben Vollmar)
Catering to individual tastes
An investment in the precision coffee tools used to create each individual cup means the barista team can match personal taste preferences. Here, they’re not brewing large pots to serve the masses, but rather, individual made-to-order craft cups. Vollmar’s mission is to have a brief interaction with the customer to figure out what flavors they like, and partner them up with the proper ingredients.
And Vollmar sources his beans from roasters located around the globe.
This attention-to-detail is drawing a hefty BGSU crowd, but he also sees plenty of business professionals, local residents and families.
“It really makes me smile,” he said. “We have seen more college students than I thought we would, but we’ve had a nice, healthy mix. We’re kind of like a melting pot.”
Ben Vollmar takes extra care individualizing brews at the new Flatlands Coffee in BG. (Photo Credit: Stephen Jenkins)
Don’t like coffee?
While coffee is half its name, Flatlands spoons plenty into its other products, which include unique hot chocolates, craft sodas and imported teas. Regular bakery products are in the works, too, though not yet on a consistent basis.
Even non-coffee lovers change their tune after trying some of Flatlands’ perfected java. .
“We’ve seen so many people come in and say they don’t like coffee, yet they give it a shot,” Vollmar pauses, “and they start to like coffee. We’ve converted a lot of people.”
Presentation matters as much as taste at the unique Flatlands in BG. (Photo Credit: Ben Vollmar)
I pledge allegiance to my coffee
With so many other notable coffee shops in the area – plus one beloved, independent home-grown institution just down the street (Grounds for Thought) – Vollmar is eager to point out the differences.
His store is what’s called a third wave coffee shop, one that strives for the highest form of coffee appreciation through flavor, even to the point of detecting the bean variety and its growing region. =
“We’ve had to explain that we’re not out to hurt any other local business,” he said. “We’re different, and it’s been exciting to see how people think we’re different.”
Vollmar also believes that in a town like BG, there’s room for both, plus more.