Caffeine, crowdfunded

Over the past six years, through college, Ben Vollmar of Bowling Green has been working, studying, reading and travelling to gain the skills and assets necessary to reach his goal: peddling excellent coffee to the BGSU community. Now he’s turning to the internet to make his dream into a reality.

Vollmar recently acquired what he calls his “most valuable asset” by marrying Cassy Hintz, of Norwalk and together they have launched a capital drive on to raise the last $60,000 they need to open Flatlands Coffee in downtown BG this winter or early next spring.

The shop will be in a “high visibility spot in downtown Bowling Green that will cater to both residents and the university community,” he said. The idea for the shop is to offer a higher quality, “we will be serving the finest coffees and offering the highest skill level of brewing…”

Before even trying a sip of their coffee, you’ll see the commitment to quality and innovation. Vollmar said the space for the shop is large enough to allow people to relax and enjoy a cup of java. “Ambience is very important. We will create a space that is artistically-inviting.” Vollmar said. “Since we are taking quality to the extreme level, it won't just be our coffee, but our milk for lattes and water for coffee… we will carry the best and customers will easily be able to identify that what we have is something drastically different” Vollmar said.

The new age of coffee

The Vollmars are juming into the field in what Ben calls the “third wave.” Ben said the first wave was when Hershey’s came out with instant coffee. The second wave was the proliferation of coffee when Starbucks shops began opening up everywhere. The third wave is a movement in the coffee world where roasters see the relationship from coffee to beans as winemakers see wine to grapes. He said these “third wave” coffee shops emphasize quality and innovation, seeing coffee as an art form rather than a commodity.

“Coffee is extremely complex,” Vollmar said.  “We have a coffee lab in our house right now – we’re brewing coffee 14 different ways and working to perfect them.  The same coffee brewed different ways can bring out different unique characteristics of that bean.”

Vollmar sees Flatlands Coffee not only as his and Cassy’s dream, but also as part of a revival of small business and creative opportunities locally. He said, “I am not looking to hurt any other local coffee shops, but rather compete in a different way. There is nothing around here like what we are doing; there is nothing in the ‘3rd wave’ segment around.”

It’s roasted

Vollmar will primarily use one roaster, but will also buy from other roasters, giving him access to high-quality beans from different farms and allowing customers to experience different roasting styles. Future expansion plans include buying directly from farmers and roasting beans on site.

With your help and the help of others Ben and Cassy can see their dream come to life with a bustling coffee shop full of people enjoying their java and the hip hospitality. Learn more about Flatlands Coffee by visiting and searching for Flatlands Coffee or visit to contribute.