Meet Carlos Rios, the co-owner of Rey Amargo in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Carlos and his wife, Valeria Calles, have brought the Rey Amargo chocolate legacy to the US with their Capitol Hill cafe. Rey Amargo’s vegan drinking chocolate recipe has not changed since Carlos’ grandfather opened the first factory in 1939: Mexican cocoa, sugar, and cinnamon. Rey Amargo invites you to indulge your senses with their signature drinking chocolate and assorted bars, stone ground chocolates, chocolate-covered coffee beans, and more. The chocolate is all made in Mexico, where Carlos’ family still runs the Rey Amargo factory. 

Learn more about Carlos, Valeria, and Rey Amargo in this week’s Business Spotlight.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

What’s your favorite part about the community your business is in & why?

My favorite part about being in the Capitol Hill community is the vibrant blend of creativity, diversity, and camaraderie. This neighborhood is a melting pot of cultures, ideas, and passions. Now that I am outside of Mexico, I realize how important it is to embrace your roots and be open to understanding other cultures and learning from them.

Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?

Supporting diverse small businesses helps to circulate money in our communities. This can help our areas prosper and become more independent. Also, small businesses often offer unique products, services, and perspectives that are reflective of their cultural or personal backgrounds.

As a business owner, what’s the strangest or craziest idea you’ve ever tried?

I think the craziest thing I’ve ever done is starting these stores in Mexico 12 years ago and then, selling our furniture and belongings to come and open the business in the United States.

What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?

I think many people don’t know that it’s a 100% family-run business. We are all involved in the operation and manufacturing of chocolate. For instance, my siblings are in Mexico at the factory, managing, researching new products, selling, and constantly certifying the factory. My mom is in charge of Maria Bonita Chocolates, frequently attending courses, creating new recipes, and trying out new chocolates. My dad handles the business administration. Valeria and I are responsible for this new phase in the United States.

What are some of your favorite local businesses and why?

We love many businesses and many products! For example, I consider myself a fan of Pegasus Coffee and Mediums Collective (in Capitol Hill). The pastries from Bakescapade are also something we’ve always enjoyed and supported. We like visiting Valentinas Coffee in Ballard, Story Coffee in Bellevue, Biang Biang, and Taku in Capitol Hill frequently. I think because of our work, we haven’t had the chance to explore all the local businesses we want to!

Anything else you’d like us to know about you and your business?

We are a family of Mexican chocolatiers. With great pride, we have come to let more and more people taste these products that my grandparents created over 80 years ago. I believe we are living a dream, one that my grandparents never imagined – that their chocolate would travel so far from their birthplace, becoming a part of the palate of people from various cultures.

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