The story of The Coffee House in Valencia is a fascinating one, and it’s one that’s being told in a documentary that is due to be aired on Spanish television this week.
The film, “La Conchita y España”, tells the story of the café that was founded in 1973 in a humble home, and its founder, Ernesto Español, who had the opportunity to become a member of the country’s military and later a judge.
“It’s a small cafe,” he said.
“It’s like a bar.
We do a lot of coffee.
The coffee is made by hand and the owner is a very gentle and quiet man.
He doesn’t use machines.
We’re small, we don’t have any employees.
He’s not paid.
We just pay our own salaries.”
Españel opened the cafe in 1973, but he left his post as a judge and became a military policeman in 1977.
It wasn’t until 2008 that he decided to start a new venture.
“We’re not the kind of people who drink coffee,” he told Al Jazeera.
“I had been a judge in a military court.
But when I saw the soldiers and policemen coming and going, it was a dream to open a coffee shop.”
The cafe is now owned by a small group of people, including Españo’s sister, Maria Espa, who runs a coffee business with her son, Ernest.
“He’s a very strong, very happy man.
It’s his business, and we’re just trying to make a living.
We have a small team.
And there’s no money.”
The story of this cafe, which was opened by Espa and Ernesto, is very much in the public eye.
A film crew was sent to Valencia in August to interview the owners and their family, and to document the cafe’s progress.
The cafe’s history is full of twists and turns.
The owner, who goes by the name of Ernesto (he was nicknamed Espa), told Alisyn Pappas that the cafe opened as a humble one in a home where he and his wife, Maria, had already established a small business.
“I’ve never heard of a coffee house in Valencia before,” he explained.
“When I saw that, I said, ‘Oh my God!
What is this?
What’s happening here?'”
Maria Espa was living in Valencia at the time.
She had left for Spain, and was living with her sister, in Madrid.
“We wanted to have a coffeehouse and a coffee market, but we didn’t have enough money to start that,” she said.
In the 1980s, Ernest and Maria were living in a house in the town of Santander.
They had their first child, and the business was booming.
They began renting out their home for the price of the rent.
“But it was difficult,” Maria Espándola said.
She said the family decided to close the shop.
“In the end, the house was sold,” she told Alhasyn Pascual.
The couple eventually sold the property to a family in the area and the shop was sold again.
“And then in 2006, the family came back to the house,” Espa said.
He said that in 2009, the Espa’s bought the property back and began renovations.
“The building was in bad shape.
We were worried that we were going to have to close it down,” he added.
The building is now home to a cafe, and Espa opened the first espresso bar in 2010.
“For a while we had no espresso,” he admitted.
“So we made the first coffee.
It was a small bar.”
After the initial surge in business, Espa Espa closed the café and moved on to his next venture, a cafe that he said was much bigger than his first.
“For a year, we were doing a lot,” he recalled.
“There was a problem in the coffee shop.
We couldn’t afford to buy a coffee machine.
We had to have the machines.
That was the end of it.
We went back to selling coffee.”
His business was never successful, and he went on to open his own coffee shop and cafe in 2013.
He has also opened a café in Barcelona.
“Every time I’ve opened a coffee store, the people that come to the cafe have been amazing,” he joked.
The story was told in Spanish on Al Jazeera’s “Spanish Coffee”.
Follow AlisYN Pappos on Twitter: @alisynappas