Martha Rueca-Gustafsson, Mills alum class of 1996, opened one of my favorite coffee shops, World Ground, roughly four and a half years ago with her husband to meet a need she felt as a student for a really great hangout.
This Laurel district caf‚ features a full range of hot and cold beverages, poetry readings, live music and d‚cor from only coffee producing regions of the world, with the exception of the local artists who maintain long-running exhibits.
“After graduation, I worked for a year at a public relations firm, doing what my parents wanted me to do,” Rueca-Gustafsson said. “I decided to open a coffee shop because at the time there was nowhere really great to hang out, especially at night.”
That she has accomplished. World Ground not only serves really good coffee, but really good food as well.
“My husband is a chef by trade,” Rueca-Gustafsson admitted. “We outsource everything. We collected a lot of great vendors, but we prepare it all here.”
World Ground hosts poetry readings on the first and third Tuesday of each month that are organized by different people, but hosted by poet Allison Fletcher. The events pull in crowds of 20 to 40 people, Rueca-Gustafsson said.
“We have musicians and singers, but primarily poets,” Rueca-Gustafsson said. People come not to make money, but because they like the vibe. One example is Santana’s bassist, who comes in regularly to try out new material when the group is not touring.
Rueca-Gustafsson and her husband are opening a second cafe in Jack London Square sometime in October. “Even as I move on to the second store and begin working there, I’ll still be here for Mills,” she said. “I still have ties to Mills. I do deliveries almost everyday to the different departments at Mills.”
“I just really enjoy this,” Rueca-Gustafsson said.