Martine Coscia grew up in a country that boasts more than 2,000 chocolate shops. And like any good businesswoman, the owner of The Little Chocolate Company likes to educate customers about her products.
A lot of people come in thinking it's so sweet, said Coscia. But every item comes with a story." As does Coscia herself.
Though born in Belgium, a chocolate lovers paradise, Coscia was not always interested in being a chocolatier. "I was always surrounded by chocolate," she said. "My brother was a chocolatier, but I had a career in technology."
When she moved to the United States, Coscia saw that the chocolate made here was far different from the exquisite stuff she grew up with. Belgium produces more than 172,000 tons of chocolate a year, yet treats the process like an art form. Unlike the chocolate made in the U.S., most of Belgium's is made by hand.
After starting her family, Coscia left her job in corporate IT, intending to stay away for five years. During that time her casual interest in chocolate turned into a passion. She took classes with different chocolatiers to advance her knowledge and skills. Finally, just before Valentines Day this year, she launched The Little Chocolate Company in Byram.
"This area is very neighborhood-y," said Coscia. "The Byram residents are very proud of their small businesses and very excited to have a chocolate shop."
Many of its customers come in to satisfy a craving for traditional milk or dark chocolate. But for the adventurous, Coscia has a number of interesting combinations.
"We have a hot chili, ginger and a Mexican chocolate bar with cinnamon," she said. "There's also a chocolate version of a key lime pie with white chocolate, coconut and a key lime oil."
Most of her ingredients are organic, grown locally and made on premises.
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