Stories

May 17, 2023
How One Couple Turned a Passion for Chocolate into a Growing Artisanal Business

 
Roxanne peaking outside of L’Amourette Chocolat
Roxanne peaking outside of L’Amourette Chocolat

 
“Great chocolate like ours is about more than just flavor, and it’s more than just food,” says Andre V, the co-owner and chocolatier behind L’Amourette Chocolat. “It’s about happiness, nostalgia, art, and love.”

Everything that Andre and his wife and business partner, Roxanne, create at their San Francisco-based business has been inspired by the passion they have for the art of chocolate-making. “L’Amourette, in French, means ‘a little love affair’,” says Roxanne. “We named it to represent not only the love we have for chocolate itself, but all of the love we put into our own chocolate-making.” 

The duo first started their bean-to-bar chocolate company in 2011, driven by their desire to create joyful and delicious experiences for others. From pure, 100% dark chocolate to rich milk chocolate and the many unique, fruit or nut-filled varieties in between, L’Amourette Chocolat prides itself in offering a flavor for every taste. In addition to their wide selection of 28 flavors of chocolate bars, they also offer decadent truffles and bonbons, all of which are also made with fresh, top-quality ingredients like whipping cream and coconut cream.

Andre V with L'Amourette Artisanal Chocolate
Andre V with L'Amourette Artisanal Chocolate

For the first twelve years, the company focused primarily on their wholesale retail business, placing their wide variety of artisanal bars and truffles in retailers and grocery stores throughout the United States. Last year, they brought the in-person experience directly to customers for the first time with the opening of their boutique on Fillmore Street. 

As a small business, Roxanne and Andre strive to simplify as many processes as possible in their day-to-day operations to make sure they have enough time to focus on production, growing the business, and now, for interacting with their customers each day on the shop floor. “We run the boutique by ourselves and split our time between the storefront and our production space, so when it came to setting up our shop, we needed an easy-to-use payment system that could keep up with us,” says Roxanne. Having already integrated PayPal Checkout as a fast and secure payment option for their online store, the couple looked into PayPal’s in-store solutions and landed on the PayPal Zettle point-of-sale system.

“Every sale with PayPal Zettle is so quick – our customers love how easy it is to tap and go,” says Roxanne. “And because I can take the card reader around the store with me as I chat with customers, I never miss a sale or get stuck behind the counter.”

PayPal Zettle card reader
PayPal Zettle card reader

Partnering with PayPal to manage their transactions has helped make sure that Andre and Roxanne can stay focused on the most important parts of their business: making delicious chocolate and developing relationships with the farmers from which they source all of their ingredients.

A true bean-to-bar chocolatier, Andre sources all the cacao beans himself from regions such as Venezuela, Grenada, and Nicaragua. “Chocolate-making is like wine-making – beans sourced from different regions each have their own flavor profile,” explains Andre. 

“All good chocolate starts with great beans, and the biggest challenge we faced when we started was sourcing the quality we needed,” added Roxanne. “Over the past ten years, we’ve been fortunate to build relationships with cacao farmers who are just as passionate about their product as we are.”

The couple is just as discerning about the additional ingredients they incorporate in their chocolate to make their flavored bars, such as the adventurous and savory 72% Dark Bacon and Salami or their crunchy 72% Croquant. Each ingredient they use, from pistachios to dried cherries to the oranges from which they make their candied peels, is hand-picked by Roxanne and Andre each week and comes directly from local California farmers. 

L'Amourette store shelves
The variety of artisanal chocolate bars at L'Amourette

“We use the best ingredients and make everything ourselves from scratch, and our customers can really taste the difference,” says Andre. Every step of the chocolate making process is done in-house, with Andre and Roxanne even roasting and grinding the beans themselves, checking for quality every step of the way. “Unlike a machine-made or mass-produced candy bar, we handle every step by hand and use very few ingredients,” says Andre. “It also means our products are all soy-free, gluten-free, and free of preservatives.”

Having recently celebrated the one-year milestone of their boutique, Roxanne and Andre are now focusing on expanding their reach to new audiences from coast-to-coast. Their goal is to continue attracting new local customers through their storefront, but also to connect with new retailers across the country and to increase their brand awareness through their presence at trade shows. 

“Our love for chocolate has always been the most important ingredient in everything we make,” says Roxanne. “When we speak to other entrepreneurs, we always advise them to pursue whatever they truly love. If you do, your customers will be able to see and connect with your passion, and no matter what challenges you face, your passion will always be there to guide you.” 

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