For Brendan Patrick, owner of Belle Chocolates, quality ingredients are vital. His chocolate business markets itself as “bean to bar,” intentionally participating in every step of the chocolate-making process, from sourcing the cacao to preparing the chocolates for retail.
After first encountering bean to bar chocolate, Patrick embraced a self-taught season of learning how to make chocolates, quickly becoming proficient in enough basics to open Belle Chocolates for full-time operations in January of 2019.
Chocolate-making is an involved process, requiring skill and necessary equipment. “The biggest hurdle was the barrier for entry of knowledge and financial investment,” explains Patrick. “It took a lot of work to gain the skills needed to make a consistent, delicious product, and chocolate equipment is not cheap!”
Belle Chocolates offers a wide variety of chocolates that can be enjoyed as an afternoon indulgence or decadent dessert. Customers will have a hard time choosing which mouth-watering chocolate to enjoy, as options range from bon bons filled with ganache, caramel, coconut, or peanut butter to single-origin dark and milk chocolate bars with different flavor notes.
Patrick partnered with since-closed Plus Coffee to begin retailing these chocolates. “The owner and I were acquainted when I began and were able to work out a deal to get my products on the shelf as well as provide production space,” he shares. At first, Patrick found the experience to be “nerve-racking,” explaining that he initially worried who would accurately market his products when he wasn’t there. “Thankfully, the group was interested in learning, and it was a great launch overall,” he adds.
Now, Belle Chocolates has a brick-and-mortar location of its own while continuing to retail in about a dozen local stores. It shares the space with FarmToMed, a CBD dispensary whose focus on clean sourcing and production mirrors Patrick’s and creates a successful partnership. “FarmToMed and Belle Chocolates have a ton of synergy. Our ethics regarding processing of raw product and ingredients are the same, and our focus on quality is paramount,” says Patrick.
As business continues to grow, Patrick hopes to acquire more equipment to ramp up production and expand Belle Chocolates outside of downtown Chattanooga by the end of the year. The care that Patrick puts into his chocolates is evident, his passion for the craft making them that much sweeter.