A true family business, Sjölinds welcomes the community to enjoy sweets and savory treats at two locations; the bean-to-bar Chocolate Factory and at the Chocolate House where European-style baked goods, incredible coffees and confections are served. Both are located in Mount Horeb.
Location: Mount Horeb, WI
Product(s): chocolates, confections
Established: July 2006
The idea for a “Chocolate House” had been brewing in Tracy Thompson’s mind throughout her career as a professional baker and pastry chef. She wanted to bring a broad selection of chocolates to the local market. When the first location opened in July of 2006, it offered coffee, pastries and a limited number of Sjölinds own truffles and caramels in addition to a selection of chocolates from around the world.
As Tracy and her family started sampling more types of chocolate sourced from destinations near and far, they were inspired. Makers by heritage, the Sjölinds’ team wanted to see how their chocolates would taste if they made everything from scratch. The ability to play with flavors, textures and ingredients has enabled the creation of some truly remarkable flavors, including the widely popular Wisconsin butter chocolate bar. Melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness, this chocolate is a dairy state must-have. The bar is “dark milk chocolate made from cocoa beans that are roasted, winnowed and ground in house and then combined with cocoa butter, Wisconsin milk powder, sugar and salted, clarified butter,” according to its package description.
The Sjölinds business is almost entirely a family affair. Mom, Tracy, is the creative force and “big boss” while Dad, Chris, is the bookkeeper and baker. Daughter, Erin, handles management and operations while daughter, Melissa, is the chocolate maker. Ty, the eldest son, takes care of landscaping and assists with production and packaging in the cooler months and the youngest son, Sam, is the resident fill-in and floater, helping with tasks like winnowing beans, stirring caramel and running errands when he’s not in school. You can feel the love the family puts into every aspect of the business. For every patron walking through the Sjölinds doors, it’s as if they are being welcomed into the Thompson home.
Starting as one of a handful of bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the nation, Sjölinds has become a staple in Mount Horeb and the surrounding area. The community that has embraced the Sjölinds brand's creativity, supporting the wide variety of confections produced. The community was also the driving force behind the bustling Chocolate House cafe which bustles for breakfast and lunch each day, serving delicious soups, salads, quiche and sandwiches.
Melissa started crafting bean-to-bar chocolate during downtime while working at the café, making bars in a basement hallway with a small coffee roaster and granite stone grinder. The tight quarters and proximity to the baking kitchen made making chocolate bars a challenge. Melissa would make several dozen bars when time allowed and the shop would quickly sell out of them. Clearly she was onto something; with a sound business at the Chocolate House and a little bit of faith, Sjölinds opened the Chocolate Factory in January of 2016.
The Scandinavian-craft mentality inspires the Sjölinds experience and products. Fresh-from-scratch bakery is reminiscent of treasured family recipes served up in a cozy community gathering place. With two successful locations, the family is taking the time to explore next options and craft future plans.
The family loves Wisconsin with its beautiful landscape and lovely people. “It’s home,” says Erin, adding, “you can’t beat home.”