By Jeremy Martin
Many of us who have a passion for specialty and small batch coffees have made it one of our life’s goals to spread our enthusiasm to as many people as possible. We write blog articles, share bags of our favorite roasts with friends and family, and in some cases, leave business school and a promising career path behind to open a third-wave concept café in our small Midwestern hometown.
To be honest, probably not that many of us have pursued the latter—but that is exactly what Ben Vollmar and his wife, Cassy, are attempting to do with Flatlands Coffee in Bowling Green, Ohio.
The focus of their Kickstarter campaign, Flatlands Coffee will provide residents of Bowling Green with a rotating list of curated, small-batch, and seasonal coffees from both regional and farther flung roasters such as Counter Culture in Durham, N.C., and Cuvee Coffee, in Austin, Texas, and do so in a single-cup format, using methods not available at other area cafes.
“We’re really about being a customer-centered shop that is into giving them the best experience and getting them interested in what we are talking about. We also put a lot of time into the layout of the bar so we can have super high efficiency and get drinks out as quickly as possible,” Vollmar said.
Of course, Flatlands won’t be serving any drinks at all if its Kickstarter campaign—which aims to raise $20,000 by June 23—comes up short, which is unfortunately what happened with an earlier effort by Ben and Cassy to raise triple that amount.
“The last (campaign) was a kind of brief; it didn’t give the viewer much of an ability to feel like they were experiencing our shop,” Vollmar said.
The current effort, however, features a well-produced video, plenty of donation incentives and comes with a built in donor base as many people who gave money last time have decided to invest once again. People pledging to the campaign are promised beautifully designed tins of a variety of special coffees, custom tshirts, and handcrafted mugs, to name a few.
“We’re really fortunate in that [during] the period between now and the previous Kickstarter, we got a lot more investors on board,” Vollmar said.
According to Vollmar, the northwest Ohio town, which is home to Bowling Green State University, has a strong arts scene and a youthful energy, and the 30,000-plus residents have an overall desire to try new and exciting things, especially when it comes to coffee.
“We have an artistic crowd here, a really down-to-earth group, and it’s a college town. I think there is a general awareness (of high-quality coffee) that is growing in Bowling Green specifically,” Vollmar said.
Flatlands’ intent is to brew and bag coffees that are not only delicious but are also very difficult to find.
“The multi-roaster approach has been out for quite some time—we want to take it to the next level by having tons of different roasters cupping seasonal coffees in our shop,” Vollmar said. “Roasters and importers are all working to source the best quality coffee. Some of those can have unique relationships with farmers, and other people might not have access to that coffee, or there is a very limited supply. As a coffee shop, we want to bring the best of the best coffee to our customers. Having a curated coffee approach really makes sense because we’ll have access to all these different coffees from different farms.”
And customers will have access to an atmosphere and approach to coffee culture normally reserved in this part of the country for places like Chicago, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor. Why? Because Cassy, an interior designer, has put a great deal of time and energy into crafting the visual aesthetic of the shop.
“The first time I met her, she told me how she wanted to open a flower and coffee cart that she would travel with, so she’s been passionate about coffee for a long time, as well,” Vollmar said.
The couple is currently working with a few future employees in a training lab built into their house, educating the baristas on the Flatlands method and gearing up for an anticipated late 2014 grand opening.
For more information on Flatlands Coffee visit www.FlatlandsCoffee.com, or check out the Flatlands Kickstarter page by visiting https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/960621923/flatlands-coffee
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeremy Martin is a freelance writer and photographer who has reported on coffee, craft beer, college sports, and business for a variety of publications over the past six years. A veteran of the café industry and graduate of Western Michigan University, Jeremy lives in Seattle where can often be found making sandwiches from whatever is left in the fridge and cracking wise for the amusement of his adoring wife Amanda.