Sterling Roberts and Matt Bolick are the type of guys that take the hashtag #wheeliewednesday to heart. The duo can frequently be seen lofting the front wheel of their ratted-out Honda enduros skyward in front of their storefront in Austin. Mobbing on motorcycles comes natural to the pair who grew up riding freestyle BMX. Many of the same two-wheeled skills carry over, except now they don’t have to pedal like madmen to achieve the speeds needed to get airborne.
Roberts and Bolick are not only friends, they’re business partners, owners of Flat Track Coffee in Austin’s eastside. Blink and you might miss their storefront nestled behind Farewell Books on East Cesar Chavez Street, the small door blended into the colorful mural painted on the side of the building. But follow your nose and there’s an aromatic trail of coffee in the air. The red-tanked, Honda-powered enduro and knobby-tired, patina-painted tank of the bike dubbed “Dog Speed” parked in the grass out front are also clues you’re in the right place. If Roberts and Bolick happen to be rippin’ around town on their motorcycles, then a flat grey Flat Track Coffee van and a cherry Plymouth Barracuda are usually curbside.
The Flat Track Coffee Co. van is more than a promotional tool. If you’re bike breaks down around town, give them a ring and they’re on their way. Sterling and Bolick offer a motorcycle recovery business on the side and frequently come to the aid of Austin bikers in need. It is a free service, but donations are graciously accepted. Lending a helping hand can lead to bigger things though as people they’ve helped often become faithful customers.
Flat Track Coffee also sponsors AMA Pro Flat Track racer Bryan Smith. They got connected to Smith through Austin resident Joe Eparza, a long-time friend and supporter of the talented rider. Last year, Esparza assumed the role of team owner
with Smith competing on the Villa Esparza/Crosley Radio Kawasaki. The links include supplying Smith’s mom with some of Flat Track Coffee’s beans, the relationship growing from there. Smith was in town the weekend we visited Austin competing in the inaugural Harley-Davidson Flat Track X Games race, which he won. Roberts also said flat tracker Brad Baker’s mom was supposed to pay a visit to pick up some beans as well. Word-of-mouth is a large part of Flat Track Coffee’s success.
The two friends built the business on an initial $1200 budget. When a 150-square-foot space came up for rent behind Farewell Books, they grabbed it. The two built up the space to suit their needs, creating a clean, intimate atmosphere. A La Marzocco GB-5 turns the beans they roast in-house into tasty cupfuls of coffee-concoctions. They also take their show on the road with their pop-up coffee service. After opening their doors in 2012, they’re getting ready to celebrate their third anniversary.
You won’t find Wi-Fi here because the business promotes the lost art of personal interaction. Just left of the door is a homemade hook-board for helmets. A small counter and silver espresso machine are front-and-center, a bench on one side of the room, a small counter with six stools opposite. Despite the diminutive physical presence of the business itself, its presence on the Austin coffee scene is burgeoning. Hard work, a positive attitude, and good product are entrepreneurial seeds. Or in the case of Flat Track Coffee, beans.
If you love motorcycles, yummy coffee, and happen to be in Austin, be sure to pop into Flat Track Coffee for a cup of joe and a little friendly conversation. Roberts and Bolick will gladly swap riding stories and might even share some of their favorite places to romp around the city.
- Sterling Roberts and Matt Bolick opened Flat Track Coffee almost three years ago.
- Flat Track Coffee also offer a motorcycle recovery service and help broken riders by loading their bikes up in the Flat Track Coffee van.
- Sterling Roberts of Austin's Flat Track Coffee loves to rip around on his Honda enduro.
- Matt Bolick likes to rip around Austin on Dog Speed like its a BMX bike.