By Marianne Salza
Chocolate is a form of art. It is a delicacy: exquisite, titillating, and comforting. Self-proclaimed chocoholic, Paula Barth, owner of Beacon Hill Chocolates, has created a legacy of fine chocolates at her 91 Charles Street shop, inspired by her lifelong passion for the rich confection.
“What we’re selling is a luxury. Chocolate is beautiful and a special treat,” said Barth, who considers herself to be a chocolate ambassador. “I love chocolate. People appreciate it. I feel like I bring something unique to Beacon Hill. That’s what keeps me going.”
Although there are massive assortments of chocolates sold during Christmastime, stock volumes and web orders are astronomical leading to Valentine’s Day. It is the busiest time of year for Beacon Hill Chocolates, which offers traditional, heart-shaped boxes in every size for loved ones to fill with a selection of chocolate hearts available in 25 flavor combinations.
“We cover every aspect of Valentine’s Day in reds and pinks galore. We have Valentine nonpareils and heart-shaped lollipops,” Barth exclaimed. “Our biggest retail day of the year is the 13th, typically.”
Barth also recommends her classic, hand-crafted decoupage gift boxes.
“They’re pretty, unique, and collectable,” added Barth. “It’s a different option if you don’t want to be predictable.”
Beacon Hill Chocolates offers artisan chocolates, year-round gelato, churned in Boston, private tastings for eight or more, specialty gifts, and custom orders. The boutique commissions exclusive pieces, and curates a collection of truffles in traditional and unexpected flavors such as ginger, Arabica coffee, Grey Goose Vodka, green tea, chai, mint, bacon, and chili.
“What I like that is surprising is dark chocolate and lavender. The piece we have is a purple butterfly. People pick it because it’s so pretty,” described Barth. “What people don’t pick is the lemon rosemary. That has the most surprising reaction. It’s delicious; but unless I talk about it, and convince someone to try it, they will never go with the rosemary piece.”
Barth traveled the world in search of premium ingredients for her shop. She has established relationships with master chocolatiers in Switzerland, Italy, Brazil, and the United States. She continuously discovers new products and tours factories where the chocolates are produced. Most recently, Barth frequented Belgium and France.
Beacon Hill Chocolates, founded in April 2006, combines history and elegance.
“We’re traditional in décor, and what we’ve established. When we first opened, I wanted it to be like an old-world, European chocolate shop. I wanted to develop something quaint for residents,” Barth explained. “We’ve stuck to our core principles.”
Barth, originally from New York, has had a sweet tooth since she was a little girl munching on M&M’s and Snickers. She cannot comprehend when she meets someone who does not enjoy eating chocolate. When she moved to Beacon Hill in 2003, Barth was astonished that there were no chocolate shops.
“When my husband and I first moved to Boston there was no chocolate at my fingertips,” said Barth, stunned. “I had accustomed myself to having chocolate every day.”
Although Barth had no desire to own a retail store, she felt the need for Beacon Hill residents – most notably herself – to have quality chocolate available to savor on a whim. Barth first opened Beacon Hill Chocolates on Pinckney Street; and three years later relocated to Charles Street.
“I was fortunate enough to have the resources to do it myself,” said Barth, who had become familiar with selling pastry items to chefs while working in the New York food distribution industry. “I did not have a business plan. It was all intuition. It grew and flourished. It’s a labor of love.”
Now Barth, an avid tennis player, lives in Miami, Florida, and manages Beacon Hill Chocolates remotely. She allows herself one piece of chocolate to indulge her mid-afternoon craving; but when working on-site at her boutique, Barth nibbles on chocolate all day.
“Chocolate sustains me. It’s me treating myself. I eat a lot of almond bark to justify my intake. At least I’m getting protein with the almonds,” chuckled Barth, who has been commuting to Beacon Hill for 14 years.
“It’s like my baby. Seventeen years have passed, and we have established ourselves in Boston and throughout the country,” recollected Barth. “It’s become a landmark now. What we have created is something special. Tourists and residents can rely on us. Our chocolate is phenomenal.”
Contact Beacon Hill Chocolates at (617) 725-1900, visit www.BeaconHillChocolates.com, or explore display cases of artisan chocolates Monday – Saturday, 10am-6pm, and Sunday 11am-5:30pm. Greet Paula Barth at her shop February 7-14th to share in her love of chocolate and learn about her suggestions.