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Adventures in Starting a Chocolate Business

Chocolate

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#61 Anna N

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 10:38 AM

Tammy,
I, too, am following along with great interest. I don't always have sensible questions but that doesn't mean I'm not interested!
Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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#62 Desiderio

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 10:56 AM

Same here , always following :smile:
Vanessa

#63 patsikes

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 09:12 AM

And lastly, I'm trying to finalize my Easter offerings.  I'm torn between something peanut-buttery and something caramely for my last flavor (the others are raspberry, cardamom, and milk or dark chocolate truffle bunnies).  Anyone have any ideas on how to make a peanut butter caramel, and whether it would be any good?

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Last year we did a trio of decorated easter eggs. They were "life sized" molds purchased from www.chocolat-chocolat.com. We painted a set (two halves) to match and filled with three different flavors. The halves where then glued together and sold in a three pack.

Our flavors were key lime ganache in white chocolate, dark chocolate ganache in dark chocolate, and peanut butter in milk chocolate.

Everyone loved the peanut butter!

The recipe we used was from Top Secret Recipes. He trys to simulate brand products. See it at http://www.topsecret...id=83&agree=yes.

They were so cute I just had to share. You can see a photo at http://www.psiloveyo...tail.aspx?ID=34

So definitely go for the peanut butter!

Edited by patsikes, 09 March 2007 - 11:12 AM.

Patrick Sikes

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#64 tammylc

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 10:43 AM

They were so cute I just had to share.  You can see a photo at http://www.psiloveyo...tail.aspx?ID=34

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They are indeed very cute. Nice work!

Tammy's Tastings

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Dinner for 40


#65 Beth Wilson

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 12:01 PM

I too am reading your posts!

I have donated some chocolates for events as well. I always ask questions about the events as many of the charitable events tend to be fundraisers that depending on the time of the year are outside.

If it is an outdoor event I provide a gift certificate and a brochure of my products. That way no one gets a lovely melted mass of goo in a box as a prize. Many people forget that chocolate melts when heat is applied.(Unfortunatley, I had to learn this the hard way!)

I have kept track of these certificates and they have all been redeemed and some have become loyal customers.

:smile:

#66 dantodd

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 01:47 PM

One more quick note of encouragement. Please do keep posting your experiences, I find them entertaining and valuable as I embark on my own adventure.

#67 tammylc

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 07:44 AM

Couple of exciting (and related) pieces of news! An author acquaintance of mine was arranging with a local bookstore to do a reading, and pitched them on the idea of doing a chocolate tasting in conjunction with it. They really liked the idea, so I'll be doing a tasting there on May 11. It's an unpaid gig for me, but a good opportunity to market both the tasting sides and chocolates sides of my biz. AND... in order to build some excitement leading up to the tasting, they want to start selling my chocolate in their store! They've been doing a "roaring trade" in bar chocolates, and think it would be great to highlight a local chocolatier. So starting Monday (or whenever I can get them chocolates to start selling), I'll have my first retail location. I'll be starting with a just a few boxes, as I have no idea what to expect for volume. The following week I'll bring in some of my Easter boxes, and I'm really hoping those will move well.

I've been doing a lot of exploring packaging options lately. Up until now, I've been using boxes with clear vinyl tops for my larger boxes, but just paper for the small boxes. But I think I'll do better capturing the impulse buyers at both the bookstore and the kitchen I work out of if I have something that I can sell for ~$5, which necessitates getting some clear small packaging. I found somethings that I really like at Bayley's Boxes, and have just ordered a few more samples. Unfortunately, most of the boxes they sell that work well for me are pretty small - I still need to find some good options for larger boxes. And they have some beautiful papers that I'd love to be able to use, but for retail sales I need for people to be able to see the chocolates - all the time I spend decorating is my selling point, after all. It would be different if I had my own retail location where people could see what's in the box.

Tammy's Tastings

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#68 Desiderio

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 08:31 AM

Great!!!
Good luck with your first retail sell.
I love the Easter boxes they are adorable and unique :smile:
I do to like thier boxe and as you said unfortunally they are too small .
Keep the good work going , we are here to support you , Always! :smile: :smile:
Vanessa

#69 Anna N

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 09:00 AM

Couple of exciting (and related) pieces of news! 

. . .

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Congratulations! Love your Easter boxes. It's great way to appeal to adults who don't seem that into the Easter thing.
Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

"It either works fine or not, but what the heck. This is bread, not birth control." Susan of Wild Yeast blog
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My 2004 eG Blog

#70 tammylc

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 09:03 AM

Thanks - I hope other people like my Easter boxes as much as you two do!

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#71 tammylc

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 09:09 AM

I do to like thier boxe and as you said unfortunally they are too small .

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Although I will definitely be using them for some things. I'm using the clear purse boxes (http://www.bayleysbo.../purse box.html) for my "just eggs" box, and since I'm hoping to get into doing chocolate tastings, etc for bridal showers and the like, it would be a great takeaway box for something like that.

I'm considering the small petal box (http://www.bayleysbo.../petal box.html) for Mother's Day. (It will fit 5 pieces, so I'd obviously need a bigger box as well, but it would be nice for the small box.)

This is my first time being really precise about what's included in the boxes. In the past, I've let people endlessly customize - here's the flavors, here's the sizes, tell me what you want in the box. This time I decided to simplify. I'll certainly let people make substitutions, but I'm encouraging them down one path to simplify labeling and packaging. We'll have to see how well it works...

Tammy's Tastings

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Dinner for 40


#72 shaloop

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 09:52 AM

Just wanted to say that I 'm really enjoying this thread. I hope all goes well for you!!

#73 pagosselin

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 02:32 PM

Your chocolates look beautiful. I definitely agree that people want to see the chocolates.
You may want to look at this site www.sweetpackaging.com they have some very nice boxes. I have ordered from them and have been very satisfied. Most of there inserts are gold (not brown) and they have lots of boxes with clear lids. They have a 4 oz. rectangle shaped box I use. The long narrow shape makes it look like more than 4 oz.
compared with a 4 oz. square box. One of their new boxes is a gold triangle shape with a gold insert, it is much more attractive than it looks on the site. These may be a little pricey though when you are just starting out. :smile:
Pat

#74 tammylc

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 04:59 PM

Thanks for the compliment! You're all very kind.

I've looked at Sweet Packaging before, and they definitely have some good choices. I'm still at the phase of balancing cash flow with saving money by ordering in volume, and haven't wanted to invest in a lot of one style of box until I was sure of what I wanted. But I need to request some samples from them so I can start making a decision.

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40


#75 prairiegirl

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 05:15 PM

Tammy,
do you have an update?

#76 prairiegirl

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 05:36 PM

I have a question about sales estimations. Does anyone have any ballpark figures as to the monthly fluctuations in the chocolate business?

#77 blackbox

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 07:05 AM

How did you know how to budget for opening your own shop?

Did you price your product line off your break-even; or did you determine your budget for location, hardwares, etc by figuring out your price and estimating how many you'd sell in a week?

I would be so greatful for any enlightenment any of my fellow eGulleters could shed on this topic!
Thanks,
Shai
Shai, santoku-wielding dabbler in many things culinary.

#78 gfron1

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 07:13 AM

Many other great topics on starting chocolate businesses HERE including pricing, packaging, etc. Good luck!

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#79 readingrilke

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 01:15 PM

thanks,
that does help. How did you work out the storage of the chocolates? Do you mainly do enrobed or molded pieces?

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I do a mix of enrobed and molded pieces, and the ratio is still working itself out. I won't be storing chocolate there much, if at all, since I'm just making to order and not maintaining a stock.

One of the challenges of working in a space that's not just mine is how to manage air-drying/crusting times. Ultimately, I'm going to investigate getting some sort of enclosed cabinet that I can use for that (like this one, although that's really much bigger than I need), but for now I'll just be managing my work times around their schedule. Fortunately, they are closed on Sundays, so I can leave things out overnight on Saturday.

Anyone have any thoughts on whether using a fan would help speed up this process? Although I expect that sometimes I'll have to "cheat" and use the refrigerator.

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You're NOT cheating by using the frig. That's a myth.

#80 ibjack

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 09:17 AM

After working for others for the past 12 years and having recently been laid off I've decided to start my own business. I will focus mostly on chocolates but will do desserts down the way. This a great thread with lots of useful information will help along the way. One thing I would hope others could contribute is what is the minimum capital needed to start. I know this is different for each person, but if you wouldn't mind letting me/us know what you spent that would be great. I will be looking for investors and would like to make sure I get enough money to get going. My thought is somewhere around $80,000.

#81 schneich

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 06:40 AM

After working for others for the past 12 years and having recently been laid off I've decided to start my own business.  I will focus mostly on chocolates but will do desserts down the way.  This a great thread with lots of useful information will help along the way.  One thing I would hope others could contribute is what is the minimum capital needed to start.  I know this is different for each person, but if you wouldn't mind letting me/us know what you spent that would be great.  I will be looking for investors and would like to make sure I get enough money to get going.  My thought is somewhere around $80,000.

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i own a french patisserie in cologne/germany and we recently added chocolate to our portfolio. we produce enrobed chocolates, chocolate bars and confections. we built a small chocolate lab just next rooom to one of our shops (3 in total) its about 12 qm and equipped with a chocolate cooling cabinet, a selmi chocolate workstation & enrober, a warming cabinet, a combined fridge and freezer (just for fruit purees, cream and such) and a few tables and shelves (ikea) we roughly spend on our lab about 40.000 euros (including small mat.) we are in production for about 6 weeks now and i really have to tell you i couldnt do it witout my selmi. its a continuos temperer that alows you to throw in unmelted or melted chocolate it doesnt matter. the nice thing is you will always have tempered chocolate in 15 min. even if you havent a lot of time you can always enrobe something without a lot of preparation and time. if you want i can u/l a few pictures of my lab, so you can have a look.

cheers


t.

Edited by schneich, 05 January 2008 - 06:42 AM.

toertchen toertchen
patissier chocolatier cafe
cologne, germany

#82 John DePaula

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 08:21 AM

...
if you want i can u/l a few pictures of my lab, so you can have a look.
...

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Would you, please? Thanks!
John DePaula
DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#83 ibjack

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 02:54 PM

i own a french patisserie in cologne/germany and we recently added chocolate to our portfolio. we produce enrobed chocolates, chocolate bars and confections. we built a small chocolate lab just next rooom to one of our shops (3 in total) its about 12 qm and equipped with a chocolate cooling cabinet, a selmi chocolate workstation & enrober, a warming cabinet, a combined fridge and freezer (just for fruit purees, cream and such) and a few tables and shelves (ikea) we roughly spend on our lab about 40.000 euros (including small mat.) we are in production for about 6 weeks now and i really have to tell you i couldnt do it witout my selmi. its a continuos temperer that alows you to throw in unmelted or melted chocolate it doesnt matter. the nice thing is you will always have tempered chocolate in 15 min. even if you havent a lot of time you can always enrobe something without a lot of preparation and time. if you want i can u/l a few pictures of my lab, so you can have a look.

cheers


t.

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I just looked at the Selmi workstation and it looks like what I want for my business. I emailed them for more information.

#84 Desiderio

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 03:40 PM

Schneich, that would be great to see few pics of your lab, thank you so much :-)
Vanessa

#85 schneich

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 06:17 PM

hi,

finally i had a chance to shoot some pictures inbetween production, so dont you wonder about the chaos ;-)


Posted Image

what you see here is a panorama of the lab, its only about 12 qm big (small) the doorway to the left is still covered with foil, behind it there is still a lot of woodworking going on, but because chocolate is so delicate we sealed it completely. when this shop opens in a few days people will be able to watch from the shop into production. besides this shop we sell our chocolates in our two other outlets.



Posted Image

the heart of the lab is my selmi "plus" workstation which is a computer controlled continous tempering machine with a max. quantity of 25 kg of chocolate. this picture shows the "naked" machine, which can be equipped with either a enrobing belt or a heated vibrating table. on the top display you see to displays the left one shows the melting kettle temp. the right one shows the tempering cylinder temp (the one that matters. in the middle there are 4 buttons which are kettle heater, stirrer, pump and tempering. pretty much what you do in the morning is push stirrer, pump and tempering button and in 15 minutes you have tempered chocolate. the nice thing is that you can always throw in melted chocolat, or even unmelted chocolate since only the chocolate that comes right out of the pump is tempered.



Posted Image

enrobing belt folded



Posted Image

this is the machine with the enrobing belt mounted, the little hose connects the pump outlet to the double curtain, on the left you see the blower attached (even though i dont use it much)



Posted Image

the whole setup (minus blower), the sheet on the left is for the enrober pieces.



Posted Image

centers marching in (this is my usual setup for PCB sheets 6x5 is half a sheet)



Posted Image

pieces coming out of the curtain (you might notice the "hole" in one of the curtains, thats one small issue with the machine, if it has less than lets say 10 kg chocolate sometimes one of the curtains develops a hole, but it actually has no effect to the product...



Posted Image

enrobed pieces, no feet ;-)



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on with the transfers



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finished chocolates on sheets and transfers waiting to be used...



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golden decoration palets precut



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red dot palets to be used with a framboise ganache. previously airbrushed on film...



Posted Image

finished product packaged to be delivered to the shops...




so that would be it for now, if you have any question i´ll be glad to answer ;-)
overall (as if i havent said it yet) iam very satisfied with this setup so far (need more shelves, you can never have enough shelves....



t.
toertchen toertchen
patissier chocolatier cafe
cologne, germany

#86 John DePaula

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 06:22 PM

Thanks for the pix!

Question: how difficult is the enrober to clean? and how often does it need to be cleaned?
John DePaula
DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#87 schneich

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 06:27 PM

Thanks for the pix!

Question: how difficult is the enrober to clean? and how often does it need to be cleaned?

View Post


Posted Image

good point, you just detach the hose and the curtain (and put it in a heating cabinet) and blow away some chocolate with some hot air. you can go from production to knock off in about 10 mins. and leave a quite clean machine. in the rare event that you would need a really clean machine (color change from dark/milk to white) you can put the enrobing part right over the sink and spritz it with hot water until its clean. color change from dark to milk and back is also no big deal, you just let the machine run totally empty and fill up with the other color...

Edited by schneich, 08 January 2008 - 06:33 PM.

toertchen toertchen
patissier chocolatier cafe
cologne, germany

#88 Chris Hennes

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 07:47 PM

I never imagined that the enrobing belt would fold up -- that is really cool (obviously I am just an beginning amateur and have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to large-scale production!). Thanks so much for posting the photos, I love seeing stuff like this.

Chris Hennes
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#89 gap

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 08:39 PM

Yep, thanks for sharing your setup. The enrober was smaller than I thought. I'm hoping to take a course later in the year where we use an enrober - should free up time to make a few more centers.

#90 John DePaula

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 09:32 PM

Thanks for the pix!

Question: how difficult is the enrober to clean? and how often does it need to be cleaned?

View Post


Posted Image

good point, you just detach the hose and the curtain (and put it in a heating cabinet) and blow away some chocolate with some hot air. you can go from production to knock off in about 10 mins. and leave a quite clean machine. in the rare event that you would need a really clean machine (color change from dark/milk to white) you can put the enrobing part right over the sink and spritz it with hot water until its clean. color change from dark to milk and back is also no big deal, you just let the machine run totally empty and fill up with the other color...

View Post

Wow, I had no idea that they'd be so easy to clean up. Super!
John DePaula
DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”





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