For more than a decade before Diana Zogaric bought Shaws Candy, she was a customer. Shortly after relocating from SoCal to San Francisco's West Portal neighborhood in 2009, she made a habit of popping into the confectionery store to treat her three young children.
She didn't always indulge herself; there were days when she wanted nothing more than a solid dose of caffeine, but trundling her three bundles of energy down the street to Peet's or Starbucks was often beyond the pale of Diana's energy supply in those days.
"It's funny, because long before it crossed my mind to purchase Shaws, I often thought: 'If I owned this place, I'd put a coffee stand in here," Diana noted.
Shortly after a realtor handed her the keys to Shaws in August, Diana determined that her initial hopes to slap a few coats of paint on the place and open within a few weeks were far from realistic, given the condition of the 90-year-old store. During the chaotic five months of total rebuild that followed, Diana galvanized her coffee plans: "I wanted to give the adults more incentive to give in to their kids' pleas for candy," she said.
With two popular chain brewers on the same side of the street, Diana expected the kind of laborious search that went into her vetting for construction contractors and candy vendors.
But the hunt ended the moment she met Buffy Maguire, a sort of mad alchemist of coffee beans who had spent more than 25 years on the cutting edge of San Francisco's caffeine scene. Buffy's coffee journey started in the mid-1990s when, scarcely an adult, she joined forces with her future husband Patrick in his iconic oceanside venue, Java Beach Cafe in the Outer Sunset.
In the years that followed, Buffy achieved iconic status on her own, largely around the 1948 GMC bread truck that she painstakingly converted into San Francisco's most renowned mobile dispensary of medium-roast joe: The Lady Falcon Coffee Club truck, a fixture at Alamo Park, where the city's most photographed residences -- the Painted Ladies -- serve as her business-day backdrop.
"I knew I wanted to use local vendors for as much as possible, and then I met Buffy at the Irish (Cultural) Center," Diana said. "I realized how parallel our lives were and knew we would make a good partnership."
Buffy, too, was all-in from the get-go.
"I see Diana as this mom who is working hard to make things happen," Buffy said. "I share those experiences with her. It's not easy, and sometimes it requires that great forces come to your aid."
The pair shared an abiding sense of history where their vocations were concerned: Diana as the caretaker of Douglas Shaw's 90-year legacy in West Portal; Buffy as the proprietor of a business she named in tribute to an 1880s women's bicycle club that met in an abandoned street car on Judah Street in Ocean Beach.
So enamored were the pair with their new partnership that Buffy made an exception to her policy as a retail-only business. Lady Falcon traditionally sells beans online in addition to dispensing cups of coffee from its beloved truck. But for Shaws, Buffy agreed to let Diana brew her coffee on site -- with the caveat that she purchase an artisanal grinder and a high-end Fetco coffee maker.
"I've become a total convert to this equipment" Buffy said. "In a chef's world, they talk about their investment in knives. A coffee grinder is like special knives cutting the coffee. And with the brewing, the shower-head and the ability to maintain an ideal temperature is key."
The grinder and coffee maker arrived at Shaws this week, meaning that Buffy will no longer have to supply pre-brewed coffee for the store on a daily basis.
"Over different stages of my life, I've gone to Shaws with everyone from my grandparents to my own kids," Buffy said. "I love Shaws. I grew up visiting my grandparents in this neighborhood every weekend. I was so happy that somebody stepped up to buy it and put so much time and energy and love into a place that has so much history."
It's a mutual admiration society.
"I liked how Buffy's retro coffee bags looked piled up on a table," said Diana, who will brew Lady Falcon's Gr8 Hwy blend. "I liked her website. I liked her sense of style. And I quickly realized that we needed to market the fact that we were carrying Lady Falcon coffee, because people will stop in just for that."