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A series about Kansas City’s neighborhood hangouts and the customers who bring them to life. Tell us where to go next!

Meet the motorcycle lovers who put on a weekly bike show at Blip Roasters in the West Bottoms

Nine people sit around a table talking. They are sitting inside a coffee shop.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
A group of frequent customers at Blip Roasters in Kansas City's West Bottoms catch up over hot coffee on a rainy Sunday morning in February.

For 10 years, Blip Roasters in Kansas City has been a place where bikers and enthusiasts meet, drink coffee, make friends and admire the scores of motorcycles parked outside every Sunday.

This story is part of an occasional KCUR series called The Regulars, about Kansas City’s neighborhood hangouts and the customers who bring them to life.

Stephaniee Hartman is hard to miss, turning the corner onto Woodswether Road. The roar of her 2015 Harley Davidson — and the trail of bubbles streaming behind — announces her presence as she joins the line of motorcycles parked in front of Blip Roasters.

Early in the morning on a shockingly warm Sunday in February — already 50 degrees and rising, with not a cloud in the sky — this side of Kansas City’s industrial West Bottoms neighborhood is already packed with close to 100 bikes: Yamahas, Suzukis, Kawasakis, Hondas, BMWs, cruisers, sportbikes, scooters.

Hartman wears a glittery rainbow helmet, matched by a similar paint job on her Harley. The bubbles and rainbows are Hartman’s signature, a personal smoke signal announcing her arrival, and she's immediately greeted by friends as she parks near the coffee shop’s front entrance.

“Some people get really touchy,” Hartman says, gesturing to the two small machines strapped to the back of her vehicle. “Like if I park next to them, they'll be like, ‘Are you gonna leave your bubbles on?’ Yeah, you got a problem with that?’”

A woman in a yellow long-sleeve top gets off her motorcycle. Bubbles come out of two machines tied to the back of the motorcycle.
Celisa Calacal
KCUR 89.3
Stephaniee Hartman arrives at Blip on a warm Sunday morning in February. She's known for the rainbow decal on her motorcycle and the bubbles that stream behind her as she rides.

Hartman considers the bubble machines a safety feature, too.

“When I'm at the stoplight, you know, it's a number-one concern: A car sees you, but they don't see you,” she says. “So they'll ram right into us at a stoplight. But with my bubbles going, you're like, ‘Where, what, what is this coming from?’ And then they stop.”

For 10 years, Blip has been a place where coffee and motorcycles — and all the people who love both — blend together.

Even if you come on a less nice day, one without a line of motorcycles at the entrance, the coffee shop’s devotion to the scene is hard to miss within its 19,000-square-foot interior. Two bikes, both from local shop Anchor Moto, are parked inside: a custom-built 1973 chopper near the windows, and a Kawasaki KZ440 behind one of the leather couches.

“All of my friends now, here in Kansas City, they all ride,” Hartman says. “I've only made friends from Blip.”

Customers can leave with a latte and pastry, or a bike jacket and gloves. Helmets line the shelves behind the coffee bar, and novice riders can get fitted for their first one.

“We just like motorcycles, you know, we like the diversity,” says Blip regular Brad Fischer on one cold February morning. “We like to see something different than what we ride, and there's always somebody showing up down here with something unique that you haven't seen before. It really is like a bike show every weekend during the summer.”

In the back of the warehouse space is where Blip roasts its beans, and a mural of a dog riding a motorcycle takes up the wall — an homage to Blip owner Ian Davis’ own pup, Charlene.

A woman makes an espresso drink at the counter of a coffee shop. Behind her is a wall with a large painted logo that reads "Blip Roasters." A shelf full of different motorcycle helmets decorates the wall in the background.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Allison Mabe brews up an Americano at Blip Coffee Roasters on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. Blip Coffee Roasters has been a staple of the West Bottoms since 2014, and has become a regular meeting spot for motorcycle riders across Kansas City.

Blip has lived many lives over its decade in existence. Davis originally founded Blip as a wholesale coffee roaster in 2014 in the West Bottoms, just a few blocks away from the current location. The shop began pour-over service the next year, before a building fire forced it to close in 2016.

Davis then moved to a bigger space, and even opened a second location on Troost in 2019. But the early months of the COVID pandemic forced both Blip locations to close. Blip revived itself one more time in 2020, and has been at 1301 Woodswether Road ever since.

In Kansas City’s colder and rainier seasons, when riding conditions aren’t great, the biker community still makes a regular habit of coming to Blip — even if they have to drive cars there.

“Sunday morning, this we consider our church,” says Tracy McCarty, on a cold Sunday in early February. “It’s the Church of Blip.”

With the self-given title of “Honey Badger,” McCarty chats and jokes with friends around a big table.

“I call it the slackers’ table,” she said. “So if I get down here first, I take a picture and put it on social media and it's like, where are all my slackers? And then they all start showing up.”

A woman stands up and is wearing a cap, glasses and a shirt with an orange cartoon character printed on the front.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Blip regular Tracy McCarty, whose nickname is The Honey Badger, shows off her shirt to friends and other riders inside the West Bottoms coffee shop on Sunday, Feb. 4 2024.

McCarty has been riding motorcycles since she was 5, and says Kansas City used to be a big hub for the community.

She first heard about Blip through word of mouth, back when it was just starting up.

“That's kind of the way that we do things in the motorcycle family,” McCarty says. “Somebody finds a good place to go have pie, and then we all show up.”

And the bikers do show up, literally. When the weather cooperates, getting to the front door of Blip means wading through a crowd of hundreds, who all spend hours outside catching up with friends and looking at each other’s rides.

Brett Hacker, who’s followed Blip to each of its locations, calls it “the walk.”

“You come down, you get your cup of coffee, and then usually there's lines of bikes, sometimes over a hundred out there,” Hacker says. “You literally drink your coffee and walk up and down, look at all the different motorcycles and maybe talk to the people that own them.”

In addition to Blip’s weekly meet-ups, the shop hosts Bliptoberfest every October, an all-day event that features a bike show, games and local vendors. There’s also Family Meal nights on Wednesdays, art shows, small business pop-ups, and poetry nights.

“Once you're friendly to us, it's like feeding a stray dog,” Hacker says. “You got more and more people on bikes showing up. And so that became mostly the clientele, especially on a Sunday morning."

Motorcycles are lined up in a row outside a white building.
Celisa Calacal
KCUR 89.3
On a warm Sunday in March, nearly a hundred riders park their motorcycles outside Blip Roasters as part of the weekly bike meet-up.

After finishing their morning coffee and pastry, some riders will organize an impromptu field trip. Driven by hunger and a desire to get on the road, groups of bikers will saddle up and head down Woodswether Road to wherever the designated lunch spot is that day.

“People will just be like, ‘Hey, we're gonna leave at this time and we're gonna go to this place in this city,’” Hartman says.

That’s how Hartman met her current partner — they’ll celebrate their five-year anniversary in October.

“A mutual friend of ours had a lunch ride, and I joined them,” she says.

Hartman moved to Kansas City from Michigan and doesn’t have family in the area. Although motorcycles are stereotypically a male-dominated space, Hartman says that Blip has provided a haven ever since she started coming in 2017.

Hartman knows she can rely on her Blip friends in a pinch, like when her other bike, a Buell Blast, would break down.

“That's always been the struggle, like, who can help me fix the Buell? Who's got a truck to come get me?” she said. “Like I'm FaceTiming random guys, older men that I've met at Blip, like they're my father, at 2 in the morning.”

On that same warm Sunday, David Resz can’t stop smiling. He rode his new bike to Blip and parked it out front, a red 2022 Yamaha Tracer that gleams in the sunlight. It’s got an electronic suspension, cruise control and heated grips.

Resz thinks it’s the kind of motorcycle that even football players would envy.

“If the Kansas City Chiefs would allow Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce to ride bikes, I'm pretty sure they would own one of these,” he says proudly.

Other riders stand around the Tracer, looking in admiration.

“It is nice these friendships exist beyond Blip, but Blip is kind of the anchor,” Resz said. “It's where a lot of us are introduced to one another, and it's a gathering spot.”

What Kansas City establishment should KCUR visit next? Tell us here!

As KCUR’s Missouri politics and government reporter, it’s my job to show how government touches every aspect of our lives. I break down political jargon so people can easily understand policies and how it affects them. My work is people-forward and centered on civic engagement and democracy. I hold political leaders and public officials accountable for the decisions they make and their impact on our communities. Follow me on Twitter @celisa_mia or email me at celisa@kcur.org.
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