Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates forges new local relationships for ingredient sourcing

WICHITA – Beth Tully plans to hit a trifecta this year, and she’s already made good on her first bet.

The owner of Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates has long wanted to forge more local relationships to source products and ingredients for her Bradley Fair store. She’s now accomplished that in a couple of ways.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture asked for her help with something and in return asked if she needed help with anything.

“I said, ‘Find me a … Kansas dairy that I can get fresh cream from.’”

The department suggested Hildebrand Farms Dairy, which is a family dairy farm near Junction City that Tully has enjoyed milk from in recent years.

“It had never dawned on me to even talk to them,” she says. “We buy their milk all the time because I love their glass bottles.”

Then she tried Hildebrand Farms’ cream, which she says “is unbelievable.”

“And it’s a great story,” Tully says. “It’s another cool Kansas business.”

She says she hopes to make the cream the exclusive cream she uses in her products.

“I felt really kind of dumb, honestly, that it had taken me that long to figure out they make something other than skim and whole milk. I never even connected on that,” she says. “The relationship has been great.”

When Tully lost her coffee roaster connection, she found Topeka’s PT’s Coffee Roasting Co.

“They are unbelievable,” she says. “Their coffee is amazing.”

She says there are more than 100 varieties, and the coffee bags contain guides with flavor profiles and information about what beans were used and when they were roasted.

“We’ve been able to up the ante to our customers, too, which I really like to be able to tell a story about what we’re doing,” Tully says.

She may use PT’s coffee in some of her chocolate as well.

“I just like the synergy of that. It’s really cool.”

Tully says 2012 was her 7-year-old business’ best year yet.

“Who could have predicted that?” she says, adding, “We’re coming out strong this year.”

Her new local connections are only part of her news, though.

“That’s the first of our big news,” Tully says.

There are two more pieces to come, and soon.

“Stay tuned.”