From the day she was old enough to get her first job, Marissa Ruehle has worked with coffee.
“I grew up in Hampstead and my first job was at Port City Java,” Ruehle said.
Now she has opened the doors to Casa Blanca, a cafe and roastery she helped design at 7409 Market St.
After earning a business degree from UNCW, Ruehle said this was the natural progression of both her career and her passion. She said she has spent a great deal of time sourcing her coffees, researching, experimenting and sampling.
Ruehle currently sources her coffee beans from Columbia, Guatemala, Ethiopia and Rwanda, and said that quality is at the forefront of her operation.
“I want to introduce people to coffees with flavors they didn’t know could come from coffee,” Ruehle said.
The commercial roaster at Casa Blanca can roast up to 100 pounds of coffee per hour, and Ruehle said she typically roasts about 20 pounds at a time. All of her coffees are lightly roasted to allow more flavors to come through. She explained that lighter roasts enhance flavors, while darker roasts can mask them.
The coffees are then packaged for retail or served in the cafe, which serves pour-over coffee, cold brew coffee, espresso drinks and loose leaf and chai tea.
The cafe also serves breakfast items such as toasts, waffles, breakfast sandwiches and baked goods, with salads, sandwiches and other lunch items to be launched next week.
The building previously housed several used car dealerships as well as a veterinary office, and therefore had to be taken down pretty much to the studs, Ruehle said. But that allowed her the opportunity to create a space that incorporated the look and feel she desired.
“I looked at a lot of commercial property and I really wanted a stand-alone building,” Ruehle said. “I love to work and I really wanted to be proud of the space that I’ll be spending 12 hours a day in each day.”
The space is modern, open and inviting, with white walls throughout, a cozy fireplace and a sunroom with sliding glass doors, large skylights and two farmhouse-style community tables. There is also a large brick patio off the rear of the building, with ample outdoor seating.
Casa Blanca Coffee Roasters is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
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