THE EVOLVER | Lady Falcon founder Buffy Maguire

Buffy Maguire

Lady Falcon coffee founder

San Francisco, California

 

“Lady Falcon began as a rebellious daydream.”

we’ll say. daring to be a female founder in the coffee world, where women make up less than thirteen percent of roasters, surely qualifies as rebellious. to suggest that we are enamored of Buffy Maguire, the self-described “founder, master roaster, tastemaker and creative lead of Lady Falcon Coffee Club,” would be an understatement. the intentional way she runs her business, her passion for community-building, her unapologetic femininity in a male-dominated industry—she embodies “seize the day,” our époque evolution fall credo.

 

where do you call home?

“i live on the west side of San Francisco, west of the Twin Peaks where we face the expansive Pacific Ocean and our backs are turned away from downtown. on the west side, the fog reigns and the ocean is omnipresent. Lady Falcon’s headquarters is in the Outer Sunset at Ocean Beach and I live in the West Portal area.”

 

for the uninitiated, what is THE Lady Falcon Coffee Club?

“it’s an independent, female-founded and operated coffee roaster born in San Francisco. every week our vintage coffee truck—a renovated 1948 GMC bread van—is perched on the top of Alamo Square across from the iconic Painted Ladies, our craft-roasted beans are sold online and in boutique grocers, and we’re building out our flagship roastery in Ocean Beach.”

 

what’s the origin of the name?

“Lady Falcon Coffee Club is a respectful nod to an era in San Francisco’s Ocean Beach history. in the 1880s, an impromptu neighborhood of abandoned street cars on Judah Street became Carville-by-the-Sea. Carville housed many a freethinker. the Falcon Ladies Bicycling Club was one of the first cars in the bunch and helped shape the legend of Carville. these women were rebels in their own way, in their own day. ladies straddling bicycles in the late 1800s—women couldn’t even legally vote then, and were restricted by corsets and petticoats. with bicycling, the freedom of movement liberated them. they must have felt as if they had wings!”

 

that is so badass. how did you get into coffee?

“Lady Falcon began as a rebellious daydream and mental manifesto. it was the only way i could envision myself in coffee, and a way for me to add something to the conversation about the direction in which the coffee world was going. according to Roast Magazine, women comprise less than 13% of the world’s coffee roasters. coffee roasters are the gatekeepers and tastemakers, and ours is a male-dominated world. what kind of impact has this had on our experience of drinking coffee? for me, coffee is a craft and, as a consequence, it is personal. also? i simply love roasting coffee. i wanted to focus on coffee as the sensual experience of enjoyment and pleasure. I love the cerebral aspect of coffee as well as all of the science advancements, but for me, coffee begins and ends with the questions: how does it taste to you? do you like it? Lady Falcon Coffee Club is a taste-forward coffee company, first and foremost focused on honoring our customers’ voices.”

 

as if being entirely female-run and operating out of a vintage bread van wasn’t enough, how else do you set yourselves apart?

“many SF coffee roasters concentrate on the qualities of the coffee and its origin and i love that, but i think something has gotten lost along the way and it created an elitist coffee climate. the prism to “good” coffee was narrow and stifling—the antithesis of coffee culture of acceptance and inspiration. the coffee aisle was a looong brown-bag bummer of the same bags with the same beans differentiated only with a different rubber stamp. i can be rebellious, so i thought to myself, “let’s turn that on its head and embrace the femininity.” pink bags—why not? who says we can’t? and aren’t they pretty?” 

 

female founder to female founder, this makes our hearts sing. what are you most excited about at the moment?

“right now, i am really gearing up and honing the launch of Lady Falcon Cascara botanical blends. i have loved Cascara for years, and it is has emerged as one of our most popular and creative libations. Cascara, which translates to “husk” in Spanish and is comprised of the two outermost layers of a coffee cherry, tells the story of coffee itself. despite coming from the same coffee cherry that is hand-picked from a highly elevated shrub, processed, roasted, cascara possesses little flavor similarities to coffee itself. somewhere between coffee and tea, cascara has a light, tea-like body and the same fruity, floral notes you might find in a loose leaf tea. it is an antioxidant that is gently caffeinated. i have spent the past year developing different Cascara botanical blends: Cascara Hibiscus, Cascara-Rose Petals and Cascara-Chai and now we are ready to share it on the shelves of your favorite boutique grocers. we have been featuring it on our coffee truck for awhile and we are getting rave reviews. the package is beautiful and fun and the Cascara is this divine mellow drink that has a subtle hum to it that gets you moving but doesn’t overcharge you. it is the perfect drink for the 3 p.m. slump. you can still go to sleep. and it is delicious and clean and really refreshing. i love it.”

 

Shop HER YOU-NIFORM

where have you been recently that was inspiring to you?

“i just returned from Oaxaca where i have some exclusive relationships with farmers and in addition to our coffee green bean conversations, i have been discussing with them the importance of producing Cascara and discussing all the desired attributes before harvest. this is new for many of the farmers, but they are excited by this idea. i am seeking Cascara in the finest, purest, sweetest form. it is pre-harvest, so these conversations are so important and can’t happen via email. it is always inspiring for me to visit the farms where our coffee comes from. it strengthens my conviction in working towards creating a space where farmers thrive in producing quality specialty coffee. it is an honor, and working with coffee is very much a collaborative project. we build off of each other and add something unique along the way; it is both an honor and a responsibility to take their coffee and bring it to the world.” 

 

how do you welcome fall?

“as someone born and raised in San Francisco, it wasn’t until i lived in Western Massachusetts while studying at Smith College that i experienced traditional seasons, and i can still smell the vibrancy of those leaves in New England and the chill and mulching leaves as we would descend into winter. this experience changed my understanding of fall, and fall has since represented a renewal to me. fall conjures up all the excitement of a new school year with familiar patterns and rituals and rhythms but with a fresh start, a reset.” 

 

in the spirit of back-to-school, was the last great book you read?

“i read several books at a time. i just finished Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking,” Jo Piazza’s “How to Be Married,” and Jodie Patterson’s “Bold World.” they were all amazing! when i reflect on summer 2019, i know the insights i gained from the lessons from the raw honesty of these books infuse my outlook on fall. each of the authors tackled a subject that is either ignored or taboo with soul searching honesty redefining grief, marriage, parenting and gender. and what it means to be a woman tackling these subjects. they are very powerful and i am a better, more thoughtful person for having read these books.”

 

carry on or check a bag?

“i used to be a carry-on type of girl. it was drilled into me by my on-the-go dad who forbid me from checking luggage from a young age and then i continued that tradition for much of my life. i traveled through Europe and Latin America many a summer with only a backpack, but now i am a check-in girl. sigh. when i can, i love to drag my sons and husband along for adventures. a family that adventures together stays together, or something like that. in some ways, i aspire to return to my carry-on days and i may get back to that one day, but for now, i am always prepared.”

 

favorite époque evolution piece in Your YOU-niform?

“easy. the JET SET TROUSER is so ideal. i took it to Oaxaca. it was HOT and muggy, but it was a professional trip and i am a woman in a foreign country who can often be ignored or misunderstood. dressing professionally and yet comfortably makes me feel more confident. plus they breathe and don’t wrinkle.”

 

HOW DO YOU SEIZE THE DAY?

"funny enough, i am not naturally a morning person, but my life in coffee and my life as a mom has taught me the value of waking up early and enjoying a cup of coffee by myself. in my 20s, i would hustle out in the early morning, hair wet, to the café to open up. i’d dial in the espresso and down shots first thing. then i began roasting coffee, leading a team, and became the mother of young sons. somewhere along the way, my personal coffee consumption became more considered. now, i treat my morning pour-over as a sensory moving meditation. i look forward to the ritual—its delicacy and precision—every morning. every morning i am also tasting my newest beans, blends and roasts. my philosophy is i have to love every Lady Falcon coffee. it has to inspire me out of bed and be worthy of my moving meditation. and it does! over and over again.”

 

how do you unwind?

“i love the ocean, so long walks on the beach, or—even better, jumping into the ocean—is what i do when i have time by myself. it is where i gain perspective and in the quiet, a lot of my questions are answered. when i am not working or at the beach, i am most often with my husband and sons and i have been known to stand or sit on the sidelines of many a sporting game. my kids play a lot of sports and my husband loves sports, too. and while i am not that into organized sports, i grew up in a family where sports was like a religion so it is familiar to me and I know a lot by osmosis of decades of exposure. mostly i just enjoy watching my sons thrive and that happens to be on fields and courts, at the moment. i also love spending time with my lifelong friends and my extended family—i am blessed with an amazing tribe.”

 

can you leave us with some motivating advice?

“give back. the world has been very generous to me. people have given me a lot of opportunities that my resume might not have always suggested were wise. i follow suit by encouraging my team to jump into the deep end and learn by doing. i have started with my little team by teaching them to roast coffee, to run businesses and to tackle the unknown with intelligence, grace and hard work, and i am doing my part to empower women in traditionally male-dominated fields. also, meditate daily. and leave this world a little better than you found it.”

 

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