Meet Buffy Maguire of Lady Falcon Coffee Club

Buffy Maguire of Lady Falcon Coffee Club

Buffy Maguire knows great tasting coffee. The San Francisco born founder of Lady Falcon Coffee Club has been immersed in the coffee industry for decades, as a barista, coffee buyer and cafe proprietor. 10 years ago, creativity inspired her to take the flavor of her roast into her own hands.
While she may not have set out to build a big business, she’s proven herself more than capable of scaling growth. What started as a small one-woman roasting operation is now one of San Francisco’s coolest and most exciting coffee brands.

Lady Falcon is a feminine inspired business that’s championing woman in the coffee industry, with a vintage coffee truck and a dedicated team of talented women in the coffee industry. Amanda Haxton spoke to founder Buffy Maguire about how she got started and the challenges on her road to success.

Q

Why did you decide to start roasting your own coffee?

A

I started roasting my own coffee because I wanted to shape the taste more. My husband and I own cafés pre-Lady Falcon, and we worked with a roasting company. From 1994 to 2006, there were a lot of changes in the coffee industry with more attention to origin and excellence. I was so interested in the changes in coffee, I kept trying to articulate a taste to the company we were using. Eventually, it got to a point where I was like, ‘can I just do it, can I just try it?’ because I knew how I wanted it to taste. I kept asking people to teach me how to roast coffee, and the resounding response was ‘why would you do that, you don’t need to do that.’ I kept meeting all these roadblocks.

Lady Falcon Coffee Club

I knew I wanted Probat, (which is like a convection oven for roasters) because of the fantastic airflow – the design pretty much hasn’t changed since the 1860s. I had a strong sense of what I wanted to prepare for the taste. A Probat roaster was for sale, and when the original buyer fell through, I bought it, I knew it was the only way I was going to learn to roast coffee. For years I had brought little roasters home and not been able to fully realize what I wanted and the taste I had in mind. That was the moment that sparked the next moment and the next moment and then the ah-ha moment. It just provided so much joy for me, and I thought it was fun, I could be creative.

Q

What was the ah-ha moment?

A

There have been quite a few a-ha moments. One key ah-ha moment was when we were at Outside Land this last August, and we had a neverending line of 40 people deep, from 8 am to 10 pm. As many coffees as we served, the line just kept regenerating. I was like ‘oh people get it, it worked’. It was the moment when I thought: I have taken this to a level where people are wanting this, understanding it, and seeking us out.

Q

How did you go from being ‘just another coffee roastery’ to be a unique & inspiring business?

A

I think it was when I pulled together the storytelling of the Lady Falcon that was authentic and timeless. Our name is derived from a women’s cycling club formed in the 1880s. Our society was going through a lot of changes at that time, and it was serendipity that the name came from an era when women felt they couldn’t express themselves. Women’s cycling clubs where the pre-dawn to the suffragette movement, where women got together to discuss their issues. It felt authentic because I had tried fitting into coffee before and hadn’t found my voice.

The coffee world had been an old boy’s network, and they weren’t interested in sharing it with anyone who wasn’t like-minded.I was really frustrated, I wanted to express myself. I thought ‘I’m not going to try to be like those other companies, I’m going to break all the rules. That sparked something because people felt like they too had not belonged. I think that authenticity is what really separates the brand.

Q

How did you start building partnerships with cool organizations in San Francisco?

A

San Francisco is really a small city. Once you know one person you start knowing all their people, and I’m 5 generations-deep San Franciscan. I have this network of people that are based here and what’s great is that I get to meet the new locals as well. What’s great about collaborations is meeting people who are interested in my story and motivated to share it. One collaboration gave birth to another collaboration, and a lot of it had to do with our ability to tell our story on social media. Then people could come to find us at our coffee truck and talk to us. They heard the story, they wanted to know more, and there was a place to come and learn more.

Q

What role does social media play for coffee roasters?

A

I find social media interesting, it’s fascinating to see the connections you can make. It can connect you to people in such an effortless way if your messages are aligned. If you’re telling your story well, you can connect with brands like Ted Baker or Anthropologie, if it resonates. It does open doors, and then you need to meet with people, but sometimes those connections take a long time to build, and you have to do a lot of footwork. Social media does open doors, but it doesn’t seal the deal.

Lady Falcon Coffee Club

Q

What’s next for Lady Falcon?

A

Lady Falcon has a lot of momentum right now. We’re opening a flagship at Ocean Beach which is where our office and our home is. It’s a great, wild and unique part of the city. It’s where the Falcon Ladies Bicycle cub was from, where I got the name and where the Pacific Ocean is out front yard. In addition to our signature pink coffee bags and blends, we are launching our specialty Cascara. It’s an antioxidant coffee fruit tea-like drink. This is an exciting area in coffee where wellness and coffee intersect. And, we are working on getting Lady Falcon on shelves throughout the United States to be enjoyed and available across the country.

Featured image by Simone Anne via Freda Salvador

 

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