Lumineux is a small-batch, bean-to-bar, gourmet chocolate brand, based in Greenville SC. The founders, Ben and Becca Snyder, both have extensive experience from the restaurant industry. Ben is a pastry chef and a baker, and Becca is a cake decorator and a baker, and the common love for chocolate lead to the creation of Lumineux. Here is the story behind the brand:
Becca: Ben and I love chocolate. It is something we would eat every day, and one day, Ben came home and said “I think we should try making it!” We didn’t know anything about how to make chocolate, or where to start, but we found a small provider of beans and started testing. The first batches were not good, but we realized that if we changed the roast or adjusted the percentage, just a little bit, all these little minor adjustments could change the flavor completely, and we just got hooked. Though it was a pretty steep learning curve and we are still learning.
We had friends and family try the different flavors, and share their thoughts and we also kept all the original batches so we could compare and evaluate any changes we made along the way.
How has your experience from the restaurant industry helped you as chocolate makers?
We both know a lot about old school European chocolate and pastries, and it is important to us to keep the techniques and fundamentals the same, but with a modern twist. So when we made a sea salt chocolate, it was not just any sea salt chocolate, but Bourbon-barrel smoked sea salt from Bulls Bay Saltworks.
I also think that knowing the basics, has made it easier for us to figure out things, such as how the different ingredients affect the flavor and the character of the chocolate.
I enjoy finding a flavor that people recognize and then pair it with something unexpected. This is the core of Lumineux Chocolate. We do a lot of flavor experiments, and currently, we are working on a batch with Szechuan pepper. Our most popular variant is the 70% Uganda Orange & Cardamom tablet, which is also one of my personal favorites. I know this combination is really big in Europe, but here in the US, it is rather unusual, and it has become one of our best sellers. Another favorite of mine is the 70% India Apricot & Bay Leaf, which is a really unique combination that I have not seen anywhere else.
What’s it like, starting a business as a couple?
Ben and I have been working together in the past, before we started Lumineux Chocolate, so we knew each others’ strengths, which has been very helpful. Ben has got a lot of attention to details, so he works on the business side and takes care of most of the planning. I am in charge of the chocolate making, and managing the production, and while we work together on developing the different flavors and variants, I have the final saying.
We had moved around quite a bit, when Ben was offered a job here. We both went to school in Greenville, so we knew the area. We had two kids at that point, and Greenville is a great place for raising kids. We love it here, it is beautiful, and there is a lot of nature, but it gets hot during the summer. They say you will get used to it, but I am not sure about that.