Coffee

The Lady Falcon Coffee Club: Home of Rule-Breaking Blends

January  4, 2018
Photo by Simone Anne

The Lady Falcon Coffee Club's iconoclastic attitude is captured in its namesake: the Falcon Ladies Bicycling Club were a group of bohemian women in 1860s San Francisco who flouted convention through that then-scandalous activity. It was a revolutionary act, Lady Falcon founder Buffy Maguire explains, and one that inspired her own desire to revolutionize the often "sterile"—and surprisingly monolithic—world of coffee roasting.

"When I started, only 13% of roasters were female, and the numbers haven't dramatically changed yet," she points out.

A veteran of this world, Maguire decided to do something about the imbalance herself, and in her own style. After searching far and wide, she tracked down her dream roaster: a vintage German model called a Probat with a cast iron construction that lends an earthiness to beans. Through trial-and-error at her two San Francisco cafés, she slowly achieved exactly the roasts she wanted—and gained a loyal base of regulars to boot.

Then she made a big move. With rents in San Francisco already skyrocketing, Maguire thought of a more mobile storefront: a truck (a 1948 GMC, to be exact). After a major retrofit, it evolved into the Lady Falcon Coffee Club truck. She sees the truck as both a vehicle for sharing the story of San Francisco's bohemian past and, as she put it, "a love letter to San Francisco for its creativity and innovation, its Gold Rush spirit."

Photo by Simone Anne

But while Maguire's ethos is about representation, it is also strongly about experimentation. Lady Falcon gave her a special opportunity to try new things, which is how she struck upon what she calls the "somewhat sacrilegious" idea of blending single-origin coffees. Coffee culture of late is dominated by single-origins.

"Before the internet age, people didn't know always know where their beans were sourced, so single-origin beans were a revolution," Maguire explains. But with the rise of specialty coffee creating greater awareness, Maguire decided to create her own flavor profiles.

"A lot of roasters don’t like it," she adds, "because it takes time to figure out a learning curve for the roast. But for me, it keeps things interesting."

Photo by Simone Anne

Take Epic, which combines three single-origin beans sourced from Ethiopia. Through the lost art of blending, Maguire takes three distinct profiles to create a whole greater than their sum. It demonstrates how varied in flavor even beans from the same region can be—coffees sourced in Ethiopia, or any country, for that matter, can have many different identities.

Through her experiences and experiments with blending, Maguire has been able to produce blends with consistent flavor profiles, regardless of season—profiles as interesting as the story of Lady Falcon itself.

Photo by Simone Anne

For more on the Lady Falcon Coffee Club (and especially that awesome truck), head here.

3 Comments

Dana V. January 8, 2018
Love seeing Lady Falcon here -- one of my favorite local Bay Area roasters. My go to blend is Atta Girl mostly for its rich flavor profile and, I'll admit, for its name, too. I always crack a smile when reaching for the beans first thing in the morning. Atta girl, indeed!
 
mcs3000 January 6, 2018
Super to see Buffy featured! She and her coffee are great.
 
Yirgach January 5, 2018
Kudos to Maguire!<br />Good blending is a lost art. I have been home roasting going on 20 years and my only blending is by accident, when trying to use up bits and pieces from the last roasts. Some times it works and I'm like wow, how did that happen? Most attempts taste like something you might find in a local coffee place. But I don't normally do blending, as I love the SO flavor, just like wine.<br />A lot of it has to do with the quality of the beans and the roast. A lot of places use cheap beans and roast the heck out of them to cover up the lack of flavor. I think a lot of coffee drinkers are used to heavily over roasted junk. Shout out to Sweet Maria's in Oakland for the best green beans and advice on the planet!