On a typical, sunny morning in Pinecrest, the sounds of a coffee grinder can be heard outside the Wayside Market on Red Road. As busy parents and patrons enter and leave, a blond, curly-haired woman stands behind the counter with a serene smile, serving cup after cup of specialty coffee, believing she is spreading happiness through one of her many passions.
“Coffee is like a metaphor of something simple that makes you happy,” Mondi said. “Something that activates your senses and alerts you that it’s a new day, a new beginning, a new life, a new world.”
Anabella Mondi, 42, is the definition of a woman who can and will do anything. Having been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and Asperger’s Syndrome, she continues to spread joy and positivity to her community. She is a musician with more than 20,000 plays on Spotify and over 63,000 followers on Instagram. But her newest project, while simple and small, is something she cherishes: Mondi Coffee Bar.
Mondi was born and raised in Caracas. As a child, she faced bullying for being perceived as “weird” and “dramatic,” but coped by latching onto the arts. Being a daydreamer, she would constantly write poems and songs, which helped her cope with her introversion and shy tendencies.
As she grew older, she went to university to study international law. Yet, Mondi felt unsatisfied with this career path. Realizing how much the arts helped her improve her introversion, she opted out of law school, choosing to pursue theater professionally in London. During this time, she acted in small movies in Venezuela, alongside owning a production house for plays.
In 2001, Mondi met a man named Nikolas Kogan while traveling in Madrid. They remained friends for 10 years until they started dating in 2011, eventually getting married that same year. Together, they lived in Puerto Rico, with intermittent stays in New York. By 2012, Mondi and Kogan welcomed their first daughter, Alana, followed by their second, Alegría, in 2013.
Now a wife and mother, Mondi realized that she needed to put her acting career on hold. While enjoyable, the career makes it difficult to focus on family. Fortunately, this was the opportunity Mondi was waiting for since it allowed her to pursue music for real.
“After many years, I thought it was just a dream that I was going to do in another life,” she said. “When I was pregnant with my daughter, I stopped acting and I started singing a lot to her. Writing songs, writing a lot of poems…even though I was not on screen, I was very active writing, composing. And then I said ‘why can’t I start again?’”
Mondi started making connections in the island’s prominent music industry. During this time, she also established Lovely Little Einsteins – a non-profit, bilingual school for children. Working with kids at this level taught her how to identify and care for kids with a variety of developmental needs. Something she did not expect, however, was when she quickly began to notice psychological patterns that were similar to her own.
When Hurricane Maria arrived in Puerto Rico in 2017, Mondi and her family had to rapidly move to New York for safety. All of the stress, noise, and movement overwhelmed her, causing her to collapse at the airport. This led to the discovery that she suffered from fibromyalgia, a condition that causes widespread pain throughout the body.
“The noise really hurt and affected me,” Mondi said. “But I thought ‘there’s something here that doesn’t make sense to me.’ Like, why did everything affect me so badly?’ So, I needed to figure out what was going on.”
After going to a therapist in New York, she received the biggest revelation of her life: an official diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. Also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder, the condition can make social interaction difficult, and varies from person to person. Even though it was a huge shock, hearing this news was like a weight being lifted from her shoulders.
“Everything made sense in my life,” said Mondi. “I was relieved…in Venezuela, I just survived. One of the reasons for the preschool was because I suffered so much when I was little that I wanted to avoid this pain for other children. If I would have known that I had Asperger’s at two or three years-old, my life would have been different.”
Mondi decided to do a specialized therapy that involved music. Looking back at her childhood as an adult, she realized that she naturally gravitated towards the arts as a form of survival. After learning how to cope with the challenges of Asperger’s Syndrome alongside the comfort of music, Mondi was able to better understand what really mattered in her life.
She decided to focus more attention on her family. She transitioned ownership of the preschool to friends who were involved in its creation, and shifted most of her energy to her songs.
With support from her husband, the two were able to create Mondi’s record label Tactus Pro. She released her first single, “Gracias a la Vida,” in 2019. All of her songs can be found on Spotify and YouTube, with her newest album, Nosotros, showcasing a nostalgic yet cheerful message of love dedicated to her family.
When her songs extended beyond her inner circle, she decided to pursue music on a larger scale. This led to Mondi and her family settling in Miami in 2021 due to the city’s plentiful opportunities for the arts. They tried many different neighborhoods, but fell in love with the spirit of community that defines the area of Pinecrest.
Yet, one thing was missing: coffee! Living in cities like Puerto Rico and New York made it easy to drop off the kids and get a nice, morning boost. But in Pinecrest, the only way to get good, quality coffee nearby is to drive all the way to Sunset.
For Mondi, coffee was not only a way to start the day, but also provided an easy social interaction. So, Mondi and her husband were in for a shock when they discovered their morning ritual was a bit of a challenge to get to without needing to get in the car and drive to it.
“I think the coffee was first, a need — we needed a coffee shop for us,” Mondi said. “I always say that we were the first consumers because we really needed it!”
With permission from the Wayside Market, Mondi was able to put this idea into practice. Once she was able to get a design, find an espresso machine, and get a proper set-up established, all she needed was the coffee. Mondi went through many different Miami roasteries, but picked Great Circle Coffee in Little Haiti.
Owned and operated by Sergio Boppel, 44, the company stood out to her the most due to their philosophy of providing ethically sourced coffee from small farmers around the world. After tasting many beans from his company, Mondi decided to sell Cafe Femenino: a coffee blend that is grown by female farmers in the Northern region of Peru.
“One of the reasons that I wanted to do this is also the part of being a role model for my daughters,” said Mondi. “How you interpret me as a mom, as a woman, as an independent artist…It happens that most of our team are moms, so the circle was perfect.”
Cristina Muller Karger, 48, is a friend and barista at Mondi’s coffee bar. After finding out that their children were in the same grade level at Pinecrest Elementary, they got to know each other more, realizing that they shared artistic minds and a past in Caracas. With this new business venture, Muller supports her friend’s passion.
“I love Anabella’s coffee shop concept,” Muller said. “I feel good to be part of a woman-owned business because I am also an artist and mom, so I am happy to be a part of it.”
Anabella Mondi has touched the lives of many. While her songs spread messages of her love for everyone, she still manages to pour that same dedication with every cup served at her new business venture.
“I love the metaphor of coffee,” Mondi said. “Of something so simple that brings joy to so many people. I always say ‘happy coffee’ when I drink it, so happy coffee everyone!”