From bean to tasting: a couple opens Ōme, the first chocolate roasting workshop in Montpellier

From bean to tasting: a couple opens Ōme, the first chocolate roasting workshop in Montpellier

Florent Behaegel and Sophie Paluel-Marmont inaugurate the first Bean to bar in Montpellier/Giacomo Italiano Free Midi – GIACOMO ITALIANO

A paradise for all chocolate lovers opens its doors in the heart of Montpellier. Part boutique, part chocolate factory, part cocoa bean cellar and part pastry shop, Ōme offers a unique experience around ethical chocolate.

At 56 rue Saint-Guilhem, a sweet smell of chocolate floats in the air.“You want to taste hot chocolate ? It is made from beans from Vietnam”. Behind the emerald green tiled counter, Florent Behaegel lets customers of Ōme taste his products, the first "Bean to bar" in Montpellier.

Making your chocolate from A to Z

Bean to bar, quèsaco ? "The concept was born in the United States in the 2000s. This involves directly sourcing beans from cocoa from producers and transform them entirely on site.  Here, we do everything ourselves", explains the co-manager, green t-shirt flocked with the cocoa logo the establishment on its back. 

From bean to tasting: a couple opens Ōme, the first chocolate roasting workshop in Montpellier

The cocoa beans are carefully selected by the two managers/Giacomo Italiano Free Midi – GIACOMO ITALIANO

Before launching into chocolate, Florent Behaegel worked for fifteen years in the world of finance. It was in 2016 during a business trip to San Francisco that he discovered the concept of "Bean to bar". Back in France, he found no equivalent. With his future associate and companion, Sophie Paluel-Marmont, they decide to embark on the adventure.

The couple goes to Venezuela for a month to a cocoa bean plantation to meet the farmers. On their return, they began the process of opening their own business in Montpellier.

"Sugar and cocoa, that's all"

The 120 m² place combines a chocolate factory, a cocoa bean cellar, a sales counter and a pastry shop. Upstairs, a mezzanine offers around fifteen seats to taste the various products offered: hot chocolate, dark or milk chocolate sorbets or even pastries. The most adventurous can try the mucilage juice, made from the white pulp surrounding the cocoa beans in the pod.

From bean to tasting: a couple opens Ōme, the first chocolate roasting workshop in Montpellier

Every day, chocolate-based pastries are made on site/Giacomo Italiano Free Midi – GIACOMO ITALIANO

"We are not just a point of sale, announces Sophie Paluel-Marmont. We offer an experience in its own right. The cocoa beans are sorted, roasted, crushed and conched before the eyes of customers. It’s very fun”.

To make their chocolates, two ingredients are enough: cocoa and sugar. No artificial flavors, cocoa butter, vanilla or other additives. The couple selects around fifteen cocoa bean essences with very specific aromatic profiles. “Here is Finca Los Angeles, from El Salvador. It has notes of red fruits and nuts,   comments Sophie Paluel-Marmont to a customer during a tasting. The square of chocolate immediately gobbled up, she hands him a new one. “This one is the Sierra Nevada, she continues. You smell this little taste of apple ?”

The price of quality

These flavors come at a price. 9 euros on average per chocolate bar. “It’s obviously much more expensive than supermarket chocolate. But this is the price to pay for a quality, traceable and ethical product, justifies Sophie Paluel-Marmont. We are aware that this represents a cost consequential for certain scholarships. So we developed other more accessible products, such as ice creams at 3 euros per scoop or pastries, from 3 euros.

Having barely opened their first establishment, the couple is already planning other openings. “The Montpellier store is a bit of a test. We plan to open a second one in Toulouse by’by the year next”, announces Sophie Paluel-Marmont. But before thinking about expansion, they still have many projects to develop within their first baby. Like baking and chocolate making classes.

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