Chocolate is a family matter for Guillermo Comes, and also a question of passion as you can tell when he speaks to you about the family business.
On the wall of his shop near La Lonja there is a photo of his grandfather and brother, and it was his grandfather who started things off back in 1823, opening one of many chocolate businesses in Torrente, where there were some 70 factories and workshops, mainly SMEs in the 19th century.
By 1870 the family had transferred the business to Sueca, where they still operate a factory and chocolate museum, although the two brothers and one sister all had to develop their own separate businesses during the economic crisis in 2014.
Guillermo set up his shop with his wife Veronica, which explains the name ‘Comes y Vero,’ a name you will find in the various fairs they participate in up and down the country.
The shop is deep in tourist country and Guillermo deals enthusiastically with all the different nationalities that enter his shop to check out the sweet aromas, and to hand out free samples or demonstrate how the chocolate is still hand-made in the traditional manner, although open to innovation, like the liqueurs that you can drink out of a chocolate cup before eating the cup itself.
He also makes a popular chocolate paella for children’s parties, as well as soap and candles (mixed with wax so resist the temptation to chew on them!) for the more demanding client.
But the most popular purchase is the ‘bollet’ a kind of stick of chocolate that he can make in seconds from a chocolate paste and which is available with all kinds of flavours, such as orange, cinnamon and even a spicy flavour.
All the ingredients and parts of the cacao are there, from seeds to shells so that buying from Guillermo has a performance included in the very reasonable price (1e for a bollet or 11 for 10€).
He is also open to suggestions, and his customers can customise their own preference, either in person or on-line.
The shop is full of curiosities, reflecting Guillermo’s own zany personality; the old fashion weighing machine uses not weights but a handful of tiger nuts to measure the samples. So, as you might expect, they also sell Horchata, as well as hot chocolate in the winter months.
There is also a Pick and Mix section, where you can ensure that you get a taste of just about everything on offer, and he has also invented his own drink, ‘chocotata,’ mixing chocolate with Horchata.
There is also a lot of information available, including health notes reminding us that chocolate helps to increase maternal milk and helps combat intestinal problems.
Most of his produce is made on site in his quaint little shop, one of many offering personal service and personality to Valencia’s many visitors in a world which is increasingly depersonalised and samey.
The shop can be found at 38, Calle de los Derechos.