By Kevin Collison
Turns out, a good cup of Joe is just the scent to entice scores of motorcyclists to the West Bottoms on sleepy Sunday mornings.
Ian Davis has combined his love of affordable, good coffee and biker culture into a unique coffee and motorcycle gear operation called Blip at 1101 Mulberry St.
He also recently opened a second Blip in the Wonder Lofts + Flats development on Troost Avenue. Both locations appeal to his maverick spirit.
“We wanted to bring specialty coffee to underserved communities,” Davis said.
“Specialty coffee gets knocked for being expensive and snooty. We wanted to change that conversation.”
Blip got its West Bottoms start in 2013 when Davis opened a small roasting operation at St. Louis and Hickory streets.
His interest in coffee started when he worked as a barista at the now-closed Oak Street Coffee Shop. He then picked up more food and beverage experience at Aixois.
After a year away in Charleston, S.C., he was ready to return to Kansas City and start his own place. The connection between coffee and motorcycles was there from the beginning.
“When I moved back to Kansas City, I sold my Toyota truck to buy a roaster,” Davis said.
“My only means of transportation was a (Honda) CB 550. I was the coffee dude riding around town on a bike.
“My first customers were people cruising through the Bottoms who saw my bike.”
Smoke and water damage from a fire forced him out of his original location in 2016. He opened the Blip on Mulberry Street that March.
His goal is to sell good coffee to the regular blue collar folk who populate the Bottoms.
“We’re more in competition with the gas station on 12th Street than Quay Coffee in the River Market,” Davis said.
From the start, Blip also dabbled in motorcycle merchandise. That retail business grew significantly last summer when Davis expanded into additional space.
Blip now has a solid assortment of helmets, gloves and custom apparel to offer. It plans to sell its own line of motorcycle jeans soon.
The Sunday Meet Ups began when a few motorcyclists started stopping by to have coffee before heading out for their ride.
It has now ballooned to a scene where by 9:30 a.m. on Sundays, hundreds of people riding everything from Harleys to bicycles show up.
“It’s a lesson in how to take the slowest day in the neighborhood with no people and make it the busiest,” Davis said.
The decision to open a second shop in the Wonder Shops + Flats redevelopment project at 30th and Troost seemed natural to Davis, who grew up near 65th and Troost. He attended city public schools and rode the Troost MAX as a kid.
“The Wonder Bread building is a cool building and I liked the developers. They weren’t displacing anyone, it’s a development that’s pro-Troost and pro-Kansas City.
“If anyone can be successful opening a coffee shop on Troost, I feel we’re the one.”
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