Making beans about something
AVON – A caffeine high is the least of Mindy Feldman’s priorities. But she definitely wants to spread a buzz about what she believes to be the best coffee in the world … and accomplish a couple of other things at the same time.With her fund-raiser this weekend, Feldman said she will not only spread the buzz about Costa Rican coffee in the Vail Valley, but in so doing, she will provide financial assistance to her Third World coffee connection and raise money for a close friend of hers who is undergoing chemotherapy for a brain tumor.Feldman, who owns the Radio Shack in Avon, moved to Costa Rica with her family three years ago. The intention was to immerse her children in the Spanish language and jump-start them into speaking it fluently.”We moved to Costa Rica because I speak Spanish in my store 40 percent of the time, and I knew what an economic force it was to be reckoned with,” she said. “So I wanted to speak it more, and I wanted my kids to speak it. They’re 12 and 13, so we moved them down there, built a home, put them in school, and now they’re speaking it.”After building a house on the Pacific Coast in Hermosa and acclimating to Costa Rican ways of life, sampling the local coffee was the next order of business.”It’s like gold,” Feldman said. “I thought it was fantastic, but I wanted to give it to my friends and get other opinions on it. The Swiss ambassador and the Israeli ambassador went to my house and tried it. The Swiss guy said he’s never tasted better coffee, and the Israeli ambassador said the only better coffee he’s ever had was from somewhere in Yemen. So I kept hearing that and I thought, it’s not just me. What I’d do was go into the grocery stores, and when the locals were picking out coffee, I’d ask them what they thought the best one was. So I started drinking this one – the Cafe Rey – and I’d start bringing 80 pounds of it back and distributing it here in the valley and have had people rave about it.”Cafe Rey, or “coffee king,” is 100 percent Arabica and is grown in Meseta Valley in central Costa Rica near San Jose.
“They started growing it in Ethiopia,” she said. “It’s not blended. A lot of coffee is blended, and in my mind, it’s not pure stuff. I’m not into describing it. I just drink it, and when you drink it, you taste (how) it’s rich. It doesn’t have the jolt. It’s grown in some of the best climate soils in the world – volcanic soil.”Feldman has not deemed Cafe Rey the best coffee in the world without having done some prior research. “I have visited Jamaica like 15 times, and we would go up to the Blue Mountains and drink the coffee there,” she said. “I was really big into that. So then I went to Hawaii and bought the Kona Gold. But then I got into this Costa Rican and I was like … ‘Woooow.'” Establishing her coffee connection in Costa Rica involved a visit to the Cafe Rey factory and building a relationship.”On my last trip, I decided to go to the factory to meet these people who are growing it because I was just so impressed,” she said. “Of course, there I am this American going there – a gringa – and I drive up to this factory. It’s this huge factory in San Jose. I went in there, and I had to speak really good Spanish because English is not spoken there. I just tried to develop a relationship, because in Costa Rica, you can’t just go in and say, ‘I want 500 bags.’ What’s more important is the humanness. That’s why I took the kids down there. You don’t just walk in and say, ‘I need this.’ You say, ‘How are you.’ I ended up leaving that day with 90 pounds.”Feldman distributed that first stash to her friends in Eagle County but then had another idea. She had 550 pounds of Cafe Rey shipped to her and is storing it in her garage in Avon. She wants to sell it, but not necessarily in Starbucks fashion.”I called up the factory, and they remembered me,” she said. “So I got it here, and it’s in my garage and I thought, I want to do a benefit. Really what I want to do is keep that connection going in Costa Rica. And turn people on to great coffee here. And make money for this family.”From 8 a.m.-12 p.m. today and Sunday in front of Radio Shack in Avon, Feldman will sell 14-ounce bags of espresso and regular roast, whole bean and grounds for $12 each. All proceeds will be donated to the Apostol family.
“Starbucks is great, but this coffee has never been touched by any American,” she said. “It comes from people in Costa Rica that are experts in coffee.”The bean beneficiary Peter Apostol is not allowed to drink coffee at the moment. Last October, doctors found a malignant tumor in his brain, and he has since been undergoing intensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments.Having moved to Eagle County in 1986, Apostol, who turned 53 Wednesday, opened Passages clothing and jewelry shop in Vail and in 1999 opened Pano, a jewelry shop in Lionshead. He opened another Pano in Vail Village in 2001. “I do a lot of business in Greece with my jewelry and (last October), I was in Greece working,” Apostol said. “I was working and I just passed out one day and had a seizure. Then, about eight or nine days later, I had another seizure and they wouldn’t dare fly me home. I was there for five weeks. I was in ICU. I got a blood clot, but I made it back here. I ended up in University Hospital in Denver, and they took the biopsy and saw that it was a brain tumor.”Starting immediately after the diagnosis, Apostol suffered through 35 straight days of radiation and chemotherapy. Afterwards he started on a five-day, monthly chemo schedule through the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards.
In April, he contracted pneumonia but fought it off and was given a hopeful update on his condition in July.”I’m a walking miracle,” he said. “I wasn’t supposed to make it through that pneumonia. On July 28, I had an MRI and they said the tumor shrunk 50 percent. I’m on a three-month turn. The next (MRI) will be Oct. 28. I have tests every two weeks. I don’t know how long I’ll be on chemo. Every time I’m in the clinic, I ask that question. (Shaw) is a great facility and I have fantastic doctors. I feel great except for around that time every month when I have the treatment.”Apostol is on a strict diet and is forbidden from consuming caffeine. He did try a small taste of Cafe Rey a couple weeks ago. “I tried it, and it’s great,” he said. “I shouldn’t have, because I can’t have coffee. I haven’t drank a cup of coffee or a glass of wine since October.”Feldman and Apostol have become close friends through their daughters’ competitive snowboarding endeavors. Feldman proposed the coffee fund-raiser for this weekend, and Apostol was grateful.”My wife took over my jewelry store, and I can handle it better that way,” Apostol said. “It’s getting better. Mindy wanted to help, and I said, ‘Let’s try it.’ I think it’s great. I feel better every day. I just have to get through this.”Daily Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555 ext. 610, or email@example.com