In a city full of distinctive neighborhoods, we just love the Outer Sunset district of San Francisco. There’s a pronounced beach town vibe here, a streetcar suburb nestled into the westernmost back shoulder of one of the city’s many rolling hills, bordered by Golden Gate Park to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west. All of San Francisco feels like you’re in the back pocket of the wild ocean, but nowhere moreso than Outer Sunset, with its sprawling Ocean Beach park and history of barbarism, street car squatting, and fog. It’s a gorgeous place.
There’s a host of reasons to visit this part of San Francisco – natural beauty, Trouble Coconut Club, that really good crab place – and soon one more, a brand new San Francisco coffee roaster called Andytown. We’re not the first mention of Andytown online – that would go to Tablehopper, back in December 2012 – but this is an in-depth look at what they’re building there at 3655 Lawton St in Outer Sunset. Andytown is a collaboration between two very talented food and beverage industry pros who happen to be married and in love. This is their story.
As told to Sprudge by Lauren Crabbe.
Tell us a little background about yourself and Andytown.
I (Lauren Crabbe) am a former Lead Barista at Blue Bottle Coffee‘s Ferry Building location, regular competitor at the BACC competitions. I also write about coffee tech for Wired.com. My husband (Michael McCrory) is a former mixologist in NYC, veteran barista and most recently, he helped open and manage Beachside Coffee Bar and Kitchen in the Outer Sunset before deciding to start Andytown with me. Our marriage started as a ‘spro-mance. We were both baristas at Pannikin Coffee & Tea in La Jolla. We used to flirt behind the counter and we ran off to San Francisco together. As of July 23rd, we’ve been married for three years.
Michael grew up in the Andersonstown ward of Belfast. Andytown, as the locals call it, is a working class neighborhood where children overrun the streets with soccer games and everyone knows your name (and your granny, too!). In Andytown, a kettle and meal is what brings families together after a long day of work and play. We want to create this sense of community in the Outer Sunset of San Francisco.
Can you tell us a bit about your new space?
Every part of Andytown is stripped, gutted, and rebuilt to roast, brew, and serve coffee that deserves the effort.
When we got the lease for Andytown, the space had previously been a coffee shop, but a lot of it was underutilized. We wanted to make it comfortable, inviting, and extremely functional. That meant moving all of the electrical and plumbing to the other side of the space, stabilizing the loft to handle heavy bags of green beans, and adding windows to improve the light. All the while, we kept revealing things in the building that needed to be fixed. Nine months later, we are almost ready to close the walls and finish up.
Andytown is off the beaten path—two blocks from any public transportation—and in a part of San Francisco that is often overlooked. It’s a tiny, long space with a big front window seating area where you can sip your coffee and look down the street to the ocean.
We will be roasting beans, cooking food, and brewing coffee in Andytown. Because of this, we had to design the space carefully to accommodate its many different functions. We are working with a brand new interior designer, Nichole Callahan, who, aside from being an absolute visionary, is a former barista herself. With her insight and precision, not an inch of precious space is wasted. When you only have 600 square feet, you can’t afford to wing it.
Our food menu will consist of Michael’s family recipes adapted for fresh California ingredients. Think hearty soups and traditional Irish breads and pastries as well as seasonal salads, sandwiches, and whatever else we want to make that day.
In the back of the space, we have a storage loft for our green beans and will have our roaster on a short platform so customers can watch the roasting process. At the front of space, we will be making coffee on a showpiece (and workhorse) lever machine. We have one communal table at the front of the café in the main window and will have four 2-tops running the length of the wall. Outside, we will have more seats lining our sunny, western-facing wall.
What’s your approach to serving coffee?
Michael and I have lived in the Outer Sunset for about 5 years. We love our neighbors and we want to share our passion for specialty coffee with them. We are going to make our product approachable, yet not hold back any of our coffee geekery.
Our menu will consist of the basics—lattes, mochas, and single cup drip coffee, etc. But we will also have a constantly changing drink menu featuring specialty coffee drinks and coffee/food pairings that are usually reserved for barista competitions.
We have the benefit of functioning within a very small space in a part of the city where people aren’t always in such a hurry and we can actually have a conversation with our customers. So sit down, chill, and have some coffee.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We are roasting onsite with a converted Probat LE5—or as we call her, Elle—in a partnership with Orivor Coffee Roasters, a fellow start up coffee company that is focusing on online sales of high-end coffees. Orivor’s founder Patrick Chaffey rebuilt Elle to to be the best tool for our very demanding tastes, with all the fun tech right down to roast monitoring and benchmark profiling.
Our espresso will be made on a Kees van der Westen Idrocompresso lever machine that Blue Bottle was nice enough to sell us from their MoMA cafe, which closed recently due to SF MoMA’s extensive renovation project. It is a gorgeous machine and I got to know its twin very well during my time at Blue Bottle’s Ferry Building location. Blue Bottle has totally rebuilt the machine for us and we are honored that they trust us with such a wonderful piece of machinery.
One thing that I am really excited about is our ceramics. San Francisco-based ceramicist Doug Dowers worked with us to create a line of cups just for Andytown. They just feel so good in your hands. The bowl of the cups is extra wide for latte art and the handles are big enough so that a grown man can actually hold them. I have been using a prototype of our cappuccino mug at the BACC throwdowns and I am convinced that it is my lucky charm.
What’s your hopeful target opening month? What’s the address?
We were hoping for May (HA!). Then August, but now we are aiming for October. It’s amazing how long build-outs take when you are doing everything yourself and working full time as well. The cafe will be located at 3655 Lawton St, San Francisco, on the corner of Lawton and 43rd. From the Mission, just start walking west. In about two hours, you’ll find us.
Can’t get enough Build-Outs of Summer? Revisit our sprawling smorgasbord of under construction content in this handy archive.