When Buffy Maguire decided to start roasting coffee, she’d always get the same reaction from her male counterparts: “Oh, you don’t want to do that, it’s a dirty job.” It didn’t seem to matter to them that she has owned three cafes with her husband in the Outer Sunset since the late 90s. Luckily, what they said didn’t matter much to her either.
“I couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to roast my own beans. As the owner of multiple coffee shops, it made sense for me but there was this assumption that because I’m a woman, I wouldn’t want to get my hands dirty,” Maguire says while showing off a burn on her forearm from the coffee roaster with which she’s been roasting her own beans since 2008.
Maguire decided to make the connection between what she was doing out by the beach and the rest of the city’s coffee drinkers. She started small, roasting beans for what would become the Lady Falcon Coffee Club and sold them in pastel pink bags at Beachside Café, the pour-over only coffeeshop that she owns with her husband.
The roasts have upbeat names to accompany Maguire’s personal approach. Attagirl is a roast named after her grandmother, Kitty O’Shea, a first generation American and Mission resident who used the word as a term of endearment. The roast’s description reads: “Atta Girl is now in the Webster Dictionary— lesson learned: if you stick around long enough, you become noteworthy, perhaps even legendary.”
The brand’s thoughtfully designed coffee bags stand out amongst the sea of brown bags and wood-heavy masculine interiors of the city’s coffee shops and for Maguire, that decision was intentional. “Advertising used to be really pretty, it would almost be a piece of art that you’d bring home from the store,” says Maguire. “I wanted to go back to that because it seemed like a great way to highlight the sensuality of coffee and the colorful flavors that you can find in each cup.”
Maguire’s idea for a coffee truck had been simmering for a while, but her ideal vehicle — a VW van — proved impractical for the task. While visiting a friend in the East Bay, she noticed a wheel-less, broken-down 1948 GMC bread truck in the parking lot of his business: Its owner had parked it there until he could get it up and running as a coffee truck. When that owner decided to move out of state he listed the truck on Craigslist; she made a call to her friend and bought it on the spot.
She and a team of artists and mechanics at Helcam Vintage Motors, a restoration and modification shop for vintage cars in West Oakland, renovated and restored the truck, turning it into a highly Instagrammable mobile coffee operation. They popped the top off so baristas could comfortably stand inside, added a crank that expands the truck when it’s open for business, then contracts it when it’s on the move, and added windows to let in natural light, amplified by the truck’s seafoam green interior.
Like the truck, the name is an attention-grabber. According to Maguire, it is a salute to the Outer Sunset of the 1860s, when the neighborhood was just sand dunes filled with old railcars that the city had dumped in favor of electric cable cars. Mayor Sutro turned the area into “Carville-by-the-Sea” and rented the cars to local artists and creatives who created a sort of beachside bohemia.
One of the cars was occupied by the “Falcon Ladies Bicycling Club,” a group of free-spirited women who found freedom both by the beach and on wheels. Inspired by their tenacity and looking to challenge coffee’s reputation as a male-dominated field, Maguire took the spirit of the Falcon Ladies and quite literally rolled with the idea.
Now the truck is parked three days per week alongside Alamo Square in clear view of the Painted Ladies — a perfect pairing. The prime tourist location allows Maguire to fulfill her original plan of bringing the beach to the rest of the city.
“We’re honoring our history and sharing a small part of it with our customers in way that’s approachable and without the pretension and intimidation that you sometimes find with coffee culture in the city.”
You can find the Lady Falcon truck at Alamo Square every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or this weekend at Outside Lands where they’ll be serving up mochas made with homemade ganache and their signature drink, the Pink Crush: dried coffee cherry skins (cascara) steeped with hibiscus.
- Lady Falcon Coffee Club [Official]