Walk along the south side of Glen Street and you might miss Mar le Café. The little coffee shop is a few steps down a landscaped alleyway midblock, but what the location lacks in visibility it makes up for in serenity and, in good weather, outdoor seating.
Owner Marlene Flores always knew that she wanted to own a business, but after she emigrated from El Salvador at 21, she concentrated on improving her English and working her way up from doctor's assistant to an administrative position at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola. In 2011, however, she decided to take the plunge. "I needed to find my purpose," she recalled. "I wanted to find that thing that I could do for 24 hours a day and not be tired or angry."
She loved talking to people, helping them out. She enjoyed cooking but "couldn't see myself working in a kitchen." Then she hit upon coffee. "I always loved good coffee," she said, "but when I started to really learn about it -- about the journey that a bean takes from farmer to processor to exporter to roaster to the shop, and how much love and care go into a cup of coffee -- I really fell in love."
With the help of a mentor at Stony Brook's Small Business Development Center, she began educating herself not only about coffee, but about business. In October 2012, she opened Mar le Café.
The soul of the little shop is an espresso machine used to make espresso ($1.75), café con leche ($2.50), cappuccino ($2.99). Flores' beans are roasted to her specifications in Brooklyn; she sells about seven varieties (recently they came from Ethiopia, Sumatra, El Salvador and Colombia) for $14.99 a pound. She also serves tea, smoothies, pastries, soups and light snacks.
Mar le Cafe
32 D Glen St., Glen Cove