Coffee shop focuses on high quality



By Hannah Benson and By Hannah Benson

Flatlands Coffee, which opened on Halloween, is the first shop in the world to have what owner Ben Vollmar calls the “extreme multiroaster approach.”

“We are tasting all of these coffees from all of these different places regularly, we pick our favorites and that’s what we bring in,” he said. “Coffee is actually an agriculture product; it changes from season to season, different roasters have different access to different coffees.”

This new approach is a way for Vollmar to ensure his customers get the highest quality of coffee.

“So to get the best coffees in, this concept makes the most sense because we are able to curate,” he said. “So, if it’s in here it’s in here for a reason.”

He said he has seen more students than residents come in over the past two weeks.

The shop’s presence on social media is what he attributes the influx of students to.

“With our limited budget for marketing, I’ve been able to harness social media and, in my personal opinion, we pretty much kill it in social media,” he said. “I think residents are just online less.”

After the Sentinal-Tribune wrote an article on the business, Vollmar said more residents came in.

Mary Vollmar, Vollmar’s mother, said the mingling between students and residents is what she enjoys about her son’s business.

Vollmar grew up in Bowling Green and said his love of coffee started at Grounds For Thought and Cosmos.

“The community was binding and I loved that,” he said.

Vollmar was inspired by a shop called Intelligentsia in Chicago. Walking into the shop, Vollmar said it just looked high end and then he tasted the coffee and loved it.

“Right from the minute I got there I knew I was going to get something special and really tasty,” he said. “It looked high end, the customer service was superb and I was mind blown.”

Once his passion sparked, he said he began to immerse himself in all things coffee. Since that trip, he said he immersed himself in coffee magazines, coffee blogs, coffee podcasts, coffee shows and coffee festivals.

Not only was he researching, but he also began traveling to see coffee shops around the United States.

While working at The Flying Joe in Perrysburg for six years, Vollmar said he was able to see the shop move towards quality coffee.

Another thing Vollmar took from his trips to other coffee shops was the concept of the name being connected from the area.

The name of the shop was something Vollmar got hung up on for a year.

His mother eventually suggested the Flatlands because of how flat Wood County is.

In 2012, Vollmar started a campaign for the shop to win $60,000, which he eventually got.

However, Vollmar said he was thrown for a loop when the rough estimate of $40,000 for construction turned out to be $100,000.

To make up for this cost, he said he quit his job and spent his time learning construction to renovate the building.

His friends also helped, as well as someone who is retired from the construction business.

Vollmar said the design and aesthetic of the shop is due to his wife, Cassy Vollmar, who is an interior designer.

“She was looking for a minimalistic approach and it is almost polar opposite from a lot of places in town. There is a place for the ecclectic look and we apprectiate the ecclectic look, but we wanted to be different, just like how our product is so different.”

Vollmar said the design is appropriate for a coffee shop because “students feel like this a great place to hang out, socialize and get work done, but its also a safe place for residents. It’s very clean and that speaks to the sophistication.”

Plans for the future include classes to help the community learn how to brew a better cup of coffee.

“We don’t want you to have a bad cup of coffee,” Vollmar said.

He also hopes to “reach new levels of perfectionism.”

“I think it’s our responsibility as a coffee shop. You can brew a supper killer coffee at home, but we want to give you a reason to do that. We should be the experts and the professionals. If you are spending the time and money to come out, you should be getting a better cup of coffee.”

Flatlands is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.