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tammylc

Adventures in Starting a Chocolate Business

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

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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

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

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thanks,

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

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.

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

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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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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.

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 (log)

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...

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

...

Would you, please? Thanks!

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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.

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

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

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hi,

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

gallery_11197_5584_137233.jpg

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.

gallery_11197_5584_52524.jpg

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.

gallery_11197_5584_48538.jpg

enrobing belt folded

gallery_11197_5584_23922.jpg

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)

gallery_11197_5584_19438.jpg

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

gallery_11197_5584_71226.jpg

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

gallery_11197_5584_41525.jpg

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...

gallery_11197_5584_85238.jpg

enrobed pieces, no feet ;-)

gallery_11197_5584_34344.jpg

on with the transfers

gallery_11197_5584_13076.jpg

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

gallery_11197_5584_63533.jpg

golden decoration palets precut

gallery_11197_5584_12721.jpg

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

gallery_11197_5584_30308.jpg

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.

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Thanks for the pix!

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

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Thanks for the pix!

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

gallery_11197_5584_5292.jpg

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 (log)

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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.

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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.

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Thanks for the pix!

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

gallery_11197_5584_5292.jpg

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...

Wow, I had no idea that they'd be so easy to clean up. Super!

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Here's another question that I had. If you could only buy either a guitar cutter or a small tempering machine, like the chocvision delta, what would you buy 1st? Thanks to schneich for posting the pictures. (I'm trying to find a US distributor of the Selmi machines)

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Thank you for the pictures! It was really nice to see and read the explanations. Very kind of you and greatly appreciated by me!

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Here's another question that I had.  If you could only buy either a guitar cutter or a small tempering machine, like the chocvision delta, what would you buy 1st?  Thanks to schneich for posting the pictures. (I'm trying to find a US distributor of the Selmi machines)

hmm....

actually i couldnt do without both... last year we made some chocolates by hand, and if you want to do enrobed chocolate you got to have an enrober, otherwise in my eyes it would be to expensive (we already charge 75 euros per kg) if you compare the two methods of chocolate production (molded and enrobed) time costing wise the molded method is a lot faster if you do it by hand (manual tempering) and if you got an enrober enrobed is a lot faster (i usually cut 200 centers from one frame, enrobing of one frame usually takes 25 minutes or so so if you work alone you should be able to pump out 4-5000 chocolates in a days work, in our case (about 10g per piece) that would be 3750 euros worth of chocolate. cutting with a guitar is much easier than i expected, it just can get a pain in the XXX if your ganache is too soft ( i rather like to keep it on the soft side) i paid for my used guitar cutter including 4 attchments 350 euros, since they are produced here in germany (dedy is only 50 km away from here in essen) you can find one from time to time on ebay or so. if i find another one cheaply i could manage to send it over to the US if you care ;-)

cheers

t.


Edited by schneich (log)

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hi,

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

...

gallery_11197_5584_85238.jpg

enrobed pieces, no feet ;-)

...

Beautiful work; Impressive!

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I WANT A CHOCOLATE LAB!!!

Thanks for showing us. Dedicated space is such a beautiful thing.

I was admiring that same temperer and enrober at Tomric last year. Do you use the heads for filling molds too? Are you considering the truffle attachment at all?

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I WANT A CHOCOLATE LAB!!!

Thanks for showing us.  Dedicated space is such a beautiful thing. 

I was admiring that same temperer and enrober at Tomric last year. Do you use the heads for filling molds too?  Are you considering the truffle attachment at all?

iam considering the heads, but probably wont go for the truffle thingie, they just released a very cool coater called "comfit" ive ssen it work and its really marevlous...

cheers

t.

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I WANT A CHOCOLATE LAB!!!

Thanks for showing us.  Dedicated space is such a beautiful thing. 

I was admiring that same temperer and enrober at Tomric last year. Do you use the heads for filling molds too?  Are you considering the truffle attachment at all?

Kerry, does Tomric sell the Selmi machines? I checked their website but didn't find what I was looking for. I emailed them but I think they are still on vacation.

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I WANT A CHOCOLATE LAB!!!

Thanks for showing us.  Dedicated space is such a beautiful thing. 

I was admiring that same temperer and enrober at Tomric last year. Do you use the heads for filling molds too?   Are you considering the truffle attachment at all?

Kerry, does Tomric sell the Selmi machines? I checked their website but didn't find what I was looking for. I emailed them but I think they are still on vacation.

I think they are at some sort of pastry show. I spoke with Brian the other day. Same machine, but may have a different name on it.

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Thank you so much for finding the time to take pics and describe your production!!!

It put things to prospect.I really love those selmi's ,I have asked an italian friend chocolatier and he is using them as well and love them .

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My little business has opened a few months ago. Here is a few pics of my "lab"- sorry it is such a mess- been a very busy two weeks. gallery_53591_4944_1392.jpg

gallery_53591_4944_4802.jpg

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