Lauren Crabbe, Co-founder, Andytown
Hardwork, perseverance, and stick-to-it-ness has gotten co-founder of Andytown, Lauren Crabbe, the recognition she, her husband Michael McCrory, and Andytown deserve. We mean, who isn’t absolutely in love with Andytown’s variety of coffee and homespun drinks? But the young co-founder isn’t done there, with so many opportunities on the horizon—Lauren is excited to feed the beast. We met up with Lauren at her Lawton space before swinging by the Taraval location to talk all things, coffee.
Andytown is quite clearly a force in the coffee community. Everything from guidance from Blue Bottle’s founder to accolades across the Bay Area—how would you prepare new business co-owner Lauren then and what advice would you give now?
I would tell myself to trust myself and my own abilities in business. Andytown grew really fast, and Michael and I never really expected to be managing as large of a team as we currently have. I mean, our first real management jobs were opening Andytown! In the beginning, I second-guessed myself every step of the way. Sometimes self criticism can be constructive, but it can often be extremely damaging. Now, almost five years in, I have the confidence to stand up for my vision, I just wish I had gotten over the “impostor’s syndrome” sooner.
How do you find work-life balance with co-operating a well-received business and family/(you)-time? Any mantras or self-care practices? Or do you power through?
Michael and I have a rule at home—no talking about work after dinner. Yes, it may only be two/three hours of peace in our long day, but sometimes you just need to sit in silence and watch Great British Baking Show, you know?
You gave us quick background history of the Lawton St. location—how did it all come together? What key lessons learned while building out Taraval?
Opening Lawton was a seemingly never-ending saga and a whirlwind all at once. From lease signed to opened doors, it took a year and a half. Michael and I poured everything we had into that shop, and maxed out our credit cards (not recommended, btw), and when we opened, we had no employees. After about a month of working with just ourselves and help from friends, we hired our first staff, and have been growing our team ever since.
With Taraval, it was a little different because we actually had some resources—we had an SBA loan, and the experience of building/operating a shop. We got our dream espresso machine, and built the best bar we could ergonomically. The issues we ran into at Taraval involved permitting and all the headaches that come with multiple trips to the Building Department, Planning Department, and City Hall. If you’ve got an hour, I’ll talk to you about it.
We also want to ask, how did you and your co-owner (hubby) come up with the Plover? Or did you come up with it? When people talk Andytown, they talk about the plover.
The Snowy Plover is my claim to fame. The inspiration came from an espresso soda that Michael used to drink at a bodega in Brooklyn. From his description, I built the Snowy Plover—bubbly water, a double shot, brown sugar syrup, and homemade whipped cream. We named it after the endangered shore bird that lives on nearby Ocean Beach. Since we’ve opened, we’ve made a Matcha version, and we offer a seasonal version as well. Right now, it’s a homemade huckleberry sauce.
What we loved learning about was how Andytown works with farmers to help produce beans indicative of where they’re from. When in the process did you come to the decision, “yes, we need to work with these incredible producers to really tell their stories?”
We’ve always been driven to have full transparency about the farmers who we work with. Over the years, we have been able to build relationships with some importers and farmers who have some really inspirational stories. On our website or Instagram, you can read about the farmers we work with and projects we’ve done.
One of the best things about growing Andytown is being able to talk to a farmer or importer who I’ve previously only been able to commit to a few hundred pounds of coffee, and say “we’ll take the whole lot.” It provides security to them, knowing that their coffee is going to be sold, and it means that we get to confidently tell our customers that the coffee they drink on their daily commute is making a positive impact across the globe.
And in your words, is coffee an art or a science? We need a weigh in.
I see coffee brewing as much more as an art than a science. Like any art form, there technical aspects to it, but coffee is far too subjective to be treated as pure science.
Who is someone in the art, business, or coffee world, you’d want to sit down for a hearty roast?
I would love to have coffee with Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Or Terry Gross. Or Tina Fey. I mean, any badass women who have risen to the top of their field, really. Is there some sort of secret ladies-only illuminati I can join so I can meet all these people? I’ll bring the coffee.
// andytownsf.com; 3655 Lawton St, 3629 Taraval St.