I’ve found a second small coffee shop I enjoy quite a bit, in addition to my brother’s shop Common Grounds.

Marino Cafe, located at 4129 SE Division in Portland OR, was opened by Dario three years ago. Dario is from Croatia and plays a wicked (erh… do they say ‘mean’ here in Oregon to mean what New Englanders mean when they say ‘wicked’?) guitar. In the week and a half that I’ve been hanging out there, I’ve heard about five musicians pick up and play at random times.

The coffee is a little darker than the house coffee at Common Grounds, but very flavorful. In my book, he’s tied with my brother David in the cappuchino arts. In our initial conversations, Dario told me he used to take his staff over to Common Grounds to learn by watching David make a cup. Nice compliment there, Dave!

I don’t just like Common Grounds because Dave gives me free coffee. I like the flavor of his house blend – it has a very slight note of cinnamon in the back of the mouth – at least for me it does. And his cappucino is wicked..

The staff personalities are the critical component of any service business. Dario’s staff seem just a tad friendlier; David’s just a hair reserved.

Marino Cafe
Dario – owner, usually there in mid-afternoon and late at night. Rotund, with a gravely voice and genial personality.
Katie – petite redhead with an incredibly quick smile and wit. Watch out – she’ll make you smile in one sentence.
Elena – new to Dario’s crew – petite brunette with quick curiousity and an easy smile. Elena seems to be the type that’s just plain interested in people.
?Name? – tall blond – very friendly and obviously has the interests of Dario at heart.
?Name? – short redhead guy (daytime) – quick on his feet with a ready smile and sassy barbs to regulars.

Common Grounds
David – owner, usually there at 0430 dark baking, and in-n-out the rest of the day. Tatto-guy! (I never expected that from my little brother 🙂 ) Ready, easy personality to regulars and strangers alike.
Christina – Mellow brunette with laidback easy service and a light smile.
Alder – new, petite blond with a broad smile and engaging chat.
Ian – lanky dark-haired fellow, quick to say good morning.

My routine has been seeing Dave about 0630 for that first cup, hanging out for a couple hours, then visiting Marino later in the day. I recommend both shop for your java pleasures!