Ep 10. Marissa Ruehle: Creating Community Through Coffee
By Nate Eckman
Marissa Ruehle is a serial entrepreneur from Wilmington, North Carolina. Her ventures have helped shape Wilmington into one of the most desirable beach towns on the east coast. We discuss her life as early entrepreneur, when, at the age of 15 she bought infrared saunas and leased them to fitness centers across the city. Since then, every venture of hers has improved people’s lives. Her current venture, Casa Blanca Coffee, is Wilmington’s only roaster. Additionally, it doubles as Wilmington’s premiere coffee shop. Marissa talks about joys and struggles of building businesses. Most importantly, she discusses why - through all ventures - community is the most important thing she creates. Moreover, she talks about difficulties of being a woman entrepreneur. Her anecdotes were shocking and a good reminder that we all have biases to face and people to give grace. Finally, we talked about the coffee industry. It’s hard to believe that such a hard-to-harvest commodity is so ubiquitous. As she says, if you’ve ever had a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop, it was among the best coffee in the world. But she asks, and struggles to answer, whether coffee should be so cheap and accessible? Despite growing awareness in the coffee industry, too many roasters have become “white saviors” in their pursuit for more just economics. Whatever the answer is for the next generation, it’s obvious that the coffee industry will look drastically different in the next generation than it does now. Just as this generation does after Starbucks paved the way for cafe-lifestyle in the United States during the late 70’s.