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Couple’s homemade chocolate business growing very quickly [UPDATED]

Published 11:20am Monday, December 23, 2013 Updated 11:21am Monday, December 23, 2013

For Josh and Kristin Mohagen, their honeymoon was not just a romantic trip to celebrate their marriage.

It was also life-changing.

While honeymooning in California in April, the couple toured a chocolate factory in San Francisco. During the tour, something clicked with Kristin Mohagen.

After returning home, the Mohagens began planning to start their own chocolate business. Shortly thereafter, Terroir Chocolate was born.

“I knew it would be hard work and it was,” Kristin Mohagen said of working on the business so far. “But it was a lot of fun and very fulfilling.”

Kristin Mohagen graduated from Scottsdale Culinary Institute in 2005, where she focused on pastries. Starting her own business was something she had been dreaming of for a long time.

Her husband took some business classes in college and is starting his own financial planning business soon, so it seemed a perfect fit for the two to go into business together, with Kristin coming up with the ideas and creating the chocolate and John in charge of many of the business decisions.

Like many small businesses, things have started in an unusual manner. The two run Terroir Chocolate from their home, with their kitchen as the central base.

“Our house becomes a production zone,” Kristin Mohagen said, laughing. “But you can make do any place you are, that’s part of the trade.”

After tinkering around with different flavors, Kristin Mohagen found a recipe for toffee that met her high expectations. She and her husband sold their first package of toffee to a friend who happened to be visiting their home.

They took the company name from a phrase typically associated with wine which refers to the place from which its flavors originate. The name seemed to make sense for the Mohagens, who are passionate about people knowing where their food is grown.

In the case of Terroir Chocolate, the cocoa beans come from near the Moho River in Belize and the maple syrup used comes from Otter Tail County.

Since that first sale, Kristin Mohagen said things have moved faster than she ever thought they would. Owning her own business has gone from a dream to a reality in a matter of months, and her husband said it’s due to all her hard work and dedication.

“She’s creative and she executes her vision to perfection,” he said.

The couple toured a handful of small-batch chocolate factories across the country in preparation for starting their business. Josh Mohagen sees these smaller chocolate businesses spreading from the coasts to the Midwest and is happy to know he and his wife have gotten a jump on this type of business.

The couple just completed its holiday deliveries and plans on taking a break until the end of the year. Come Jan. 1, however, they will be right back at it, with Kristin in the kitchen working on different recipes and both Kristin and Josh keeping their eyes open for potential buildings to move to and expand the business.

The next step for the business is to get kitchen certification, which will allow them to sell to retail locations.

There is no timeline on receiving this certification, but Josh Mohagen said the couple’s work will continue steadily as they work towards their goal of making Terroir Chocolate as successful as possible.

“We don’t have all our ducks in a row, but we know what the next duck is,” he said. “If you wait until you had all your ducks in a row, you’d never get started.”

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