Faith Dionne is a former pastry chef who has turned her passion for food into the ingredient-driven candy bar line, Bees & Beans. Her business is unique in that she strives to use local ingredients including Portland honey. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to discuss Faith’s success with Bees & Beans and what the future holds for her business.
How did the idea for Bees & Beans originate?
Bees & Beans started as an exercise in locality. I knew that I wanted to make an approachable product that employed my skills as a pastry chef, provided a high quality and ethical product and was an expression of place: the Willamette valley.
I had been making Salted Honey caramels for friends and family. The candy resonated with them because while tasting luxurious they also showcased local products. I noticed folks rarely ate one caramel and more typically three or four, so I began saving time by making larger bars. The different compositions of candy bars grew as inspired by their ingredients.
Why did you choose honey as a key ingredient for your some of your bars?
All of my candy bars use local honey and 70% dark chocolate. I am so in love with both of these ingredients that I named my company after them: Bees (Honey) & Beans (cacao).
The honey is most featured in the Honey bar, which is honey caramel layered with salted filbert (honey) nougat. Both nougat and caramel need an invert sugar for the cooking process, which is typically made with syrup. Honey is a local alternative – natural, delicious, and I buy it from a family farm whose bees pollinate local crops. By using honey, I believe my candy is richer and more complex, as well as more ethical.
What are the benefits of using natural ingredients in your candy bars?
The benefits of using natural ingredients for me is that I feel better about making and eating my products. Candy bar cravings happen and I think it is important to have the opportunity to make a better choice.
What is your best selling item and why do you think that this item sells so well?
The Honey bar is my best selling item by far. I think it has something for everyone: salty, sweet, bitter, shatter, chew, crunch. It also evokes a familiar and nostalgic candy bar, Snickers, which is the US’s best selling candy bar, but in my opinion tastes worlds better.
Honey is a natural sweetener, do you think that we will see more candy manufacturers using honey in their products in the future?
I hope that honey shows up more in local products. The trend of eating locally is gaining national attention and I expect it is one that will stay around. Honey for me is an obvious choice because it is a locally produced sweetener. Beyond that, the bees that make that honey are helping our local farms. Add to the equation a rich and satisfying flavor and the answer is clear.
What is the most challenging aspect of your business?
A challenge for me is keeping my goals clear. Looking around at other businesses and opportunities, while interesting, tends to get me off track. I need to refer back to my founding concepts when things get confusing and often I find my answer there.
What are future plans for Bees & Beans and are there any new products that you will be introducing?
Future plans haven’t been disclosed to me yet! I’d like to expand my direct sales which would increase my profitability. I am currently developing a sampler box of Bees & Beans miniatures, which will target the “boxed chocolate holidays.” Seasonal bars will be released as inspiration comes.
Do you make candy made with honey? Get them listed here by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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