A new Northside coffeeshop will soon combine two of the neighborhood's favorite things: craft coffee and good music.
Newport's flow (the name is stylized as all lower case) is hosting the grand opening of its second location at Liberty Exhibition Hall on July 31, complete with the brand's uniquely brewed coffee and a hand-built live music speaker system.
flow first opened in Newport in February 2022 in a shared space with plant shop Fleurish Grounds. The Northside coffeeshop will also be a symbiotic operation in concert with the Liberty Exhibition Hall arts theater and its adjacent retro-themed bar, The Lounge.
flow will serve its coffee and kombucha here, along with cocktails that utilize both ingredients.
"The biggest thing that will set this location apart from not only our Newport location but also any other venue in Cincinnati is the performance space," says flow owner Rhys Watkins. "Not only will we have the coffee and kombucha bar during the day in a fully-themed '70s lounge, but also night programming most evenings with a full bar and live performances."
Although flow hosted a soft opening in June, its grand opening celebration on July 31 will include a performance by Allison Lorenzen and a special dinner featuring dishes and drinks infused with a rare Ethiopian coffee, roasted by California's Klatch Roasting. Tickets for the dinner and show, which starts at 7 p.m., are $50 and available at cincyticket.com.
Watkins tells CityBeat it will also be the first time guests can hear music via his special "brand new, one-of-a-kind, hand-built, hi-fi, horn-based, live-performance audio system." He has branded the system "sound by flow" and says it is "unlike anything else in the local area and certainly the best in the city." It will be utilized for live shows in Liberty Exhibition Hall's main performance space and theater. He is building a smaller system for The Lounge.
Watkins says he wanted to tackle opening a second flow location this year to both bring attention to the coffeeshop's associated businesses — Fleurish and Liberty — and "bring our unique coffee beverages and extraction method to people to show them this brand new form of coffee."
Watkins, a chemist and former industrial manufacturing executive, says he didn't start drinking coffee until recently and when he did, he took a very scientific approach.
"I did not drink coffee at any time in my life, but when I found out seven years ago that coffee was done more as art rather than scientifically, I studied the chemistry and physics of coffee for five years and invented an entirely new extraction method that we use in our shops today," he says.
Watkins says flow has changed the coffee-drinking experience by modifying and literally hand-building the equipment used to brew it.
"I chose to innovate and show people that coffee is actually more like wine. So flow offers a wine-bar-style experience, except for coffee, where we test (thousands) of coffees, hand-select the best of the best, and then extract them using our proprietary equipment," he says. "(That) allows us to pull a concentrate 50% stronger than espresso, which enables our customers to taste where and how the coffee was grown — just like wine."
He says this approach allows sippers to experience natural flavors in their coffee, like blueberry, chocolate milk, even Skyline Chili. Each customer selects a single farm, single-crop seasonal coffee as a base, picks whether they want it hot, iced or sparkling and then whether or not they want organic dairy or non-dairy cream or sweet cream.
"We are the only ones in the world who are using equipment like this, to make drinks like this," Watkins says.
"We let the coffee speak for itself."
Watkins says flow, Liberty Exhibition Hall and The Lounge are working together "to fully utilize the space for near all-day and night use, seven days a week." Current hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Follow flow on social media to learn about upcoming events, concerts and listening parties.
flow is located at 846 Monroe St., Newport and 3938 Spring Grove Ave., Northside. Find more info at facebook.com/flowfuturecoffee and instagram.com/flowfuturecoffee.
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