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Gaithersburg business aims to take over the chocolate world

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Published on: Thursday, February 28, 2013

By Donna Broadway

Those who know say there is an art to eating chocolate. Instead of biting it, one must put the whole piece in their mouth and allow the saliva to melt the chocolate. No chewing is allowed. The flavors are better savored that way.

Eric Reid from SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier often instructs first time visitors on how to properly eat chocolate, as many impulsively chew the tiny bonbons and truffles.

SPAGnVOLA is a chocolate factory specializing in gourmet chocolates. The small shop opened on Gaithersburg’s Main Street in 2011 and serves homemade chocolate, hot chocolate, coffee drinks and pastries.

Eric and Crisoire Reid, the husband and wife team behind the boutique, began the journey to selling gourmet chocolates in 1997. The Reids share a love of agriculture and owned various livestock and orchards in Crisoire’s native Dominican Republic. They decided to buy a mountain in the Dominican Republic with various fruit trees, including cocao trees, with the intent of selling the fruit, but revenue was lower than expected. After failing to export their papayas, the Reids decided to sell their cacao beans to manufacturers.

When he realized the market was limited, Eric said to Crisoire, “Let’s make our own chocolate.”

“At first she thought I was crazy, but we started researching the industry and learning about premium dark chocolate, and we embarked on the journey to make the best chocolate ever,” he said.

The Reids decided to start small by manufacturing chocolate bars and selling them online. After learning how to make truffles and bonbons at a Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy and practicing the recipes and techniques in their basement, the Reids decided to open a boutique with an in-house factory.

Eric is the CEO, while Crisoire is the head chocolatier. Crisoire is responsible for creating the recipes for everything, from the cacao bars to the specialty truffles and bon-bon flavors that make up the SPAGnVOLA brand.  The Reids own everything, from the cacao beans to the finished product.

Truffles and bonbons come in flavors ranging from passion fruit, mango, strawberry, rosé wine and rose petals, banana and caramel, to a rosemary and olive oil flavor.

“When I see something interesting, I say I want to see how the 70 percent goes with this. So I try the blueberry, the raspberry and I see what flavor tastes better. I come up with my recipes by thinking about different flavors. When I give it to the staff to sample, they tell me, ‘I think this goes with that,’” Crisoire said. “It’s fun working with chocolates. The day passes and you don’t know the day has passed. I start in the morning time, and night time I still have a lot of energy to work on the chocolate.”

The Reid’s chose to bypass SPAGnVOLA’s two-year anniversary celebration to focus on business expansion and gaining exposure.

“We’re still under the fragile years, which are the first three to four years running a business, and we don’t want to do a lot of premature celebration,” Eric said. We have a strong brand, a strong following, and lots of customers that love our product. We are lacking in exposure and that’s what we will be concentrating on in the next two years.”

“We want to be the best chocolate in Gaithersburg, then the best chocolate in Maryland, then the best chocolate in the United States and then the best chocolate in the world,” Eric added.

SPAGnVOLA offers free educational factory tours and tastings every Saturday and Sunday from 2-6 p.m.

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