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ESL Small Business Series: Hedonist Artisan Chocolates & Ice Cream

October 2016

When you listen to Jennifer Posey, owner of Hedonist Artisan Chocolates and Ice Cream, talk about the ingredients, flavor profiles, and inspiration behind their recipes, it’s impossible not to think of Wonka’s Chocolate Factory—for all the same delicious reasons the film sparked our imaginations and our tastebuds’ desire for perfectly crafted sweets.


Jennifer Posey, owner & chocolatier

“We use the finest quality chocolate, the finest creams that are available to us, local ingredients when it’s the best. It’s a long, slow, old-fashioned, high quality process. I think the most magical flavor for me though is our holiday collection. For me, it’s more than just ‘oh it tastes good, I think people will like it.’ When I make this orange clove chocolate, it’s the same taste as when my grandmother introduced me to a pomander ball (clove-studded orange or Clementine). It’s a memory that I have. We have an eggnog in that collection. The first time my uncle gave me a taste of eggnog with a sneak of brandy in it, I was probably nine years old. That flavor is what I try to put in the chocolate and give to the rest of the world, to share with everybody. It’s so easy for me to say, wow, Christmas! Tasting this is tasting Christmas magic! To have other people experience that too, it’s like we’ve shared something together.”

Originally from California, Jennifer was Parks and Rec director in Michigan before moving to Rochester and opening the doors to Hedonist in 2007. “Breaking into Parks and Rec here is almost impossible since positions are so long-tenured. I was ready to do something else.” Having worked for the world famous chocolatier Richard Donnelly while in grad school, she landed on starting her own artisan chocolate business.

I ask her about the small business key to happy customers. “Our idea is ‘keep the quality high and people will keep coming.’ And if we stay true to that all the other things will fall into place. Our ingredients, our products are top notch. There’s just no other way around it. We do it the old-fashioned way. But that’s quality.”

And it’s obviously working. Hedonist was voted by the NY Times in 2013 as one of the top ten caramels in the country.

“Every step we take we’re trying to get better and better. We keep it simple and do things right and consistently well. We only offer eight flavors of ice cream, only one waffle cone, only one kind of root beer, and we have 20 chocolates you can choose from right now. We are open every day of the year except for three or four. We also print and make our own packaging.” Jennifer and her partner own a letter shop printing press called Posey Press. “We don’t put out things that are cheap or gimmicky, but also not overly expensive. Chocolate is very expensive, but we keep our packaging simple, not over-done or fancy which keeps the cost down for our customers.”

Hedonist ice cream flavors.

Hedonist chocolates on display.

Hedonist unique printing and packaging.

Hedonist specialty chocolates for a Geva Theatre event.

For Jennifer, exceptional customer service and a quality product go hand-in-hand. “Customer service is everything. If you upset someone for whatever reason, that bad word travels faster than any kind of marketing could. I try to lead by example with my staff and make this a happy environment so that they in turn are happy. One of the things we have in the kitchen on our board is a saying – smile more, go beyond your limits. I always encourage my staff to smile, whether you’re talking on the phone or working with a customer and just be available and ready for them. We personally welcome everyone that comes in. In the ice cream shop someone could try all the flavors before choosing. The staff knows the ice cream and chocolates well and can give the back-story and make recommendations for pairings or other tastes.

Obviously our product speaks for itself, and we spend a lot of energy making sure our customers are satisfied in that way. If anything happens though, we have a customer satisfaction guaranteed policy. We do our best, offer refunds or replacements, and ship for free.”

Another aspect of their customer service that is just as important as a smile or amazing chocolate recipe is their character. Jennifer believes strongly in giving back to the community by supporting organizations and events like ImageOut, Highland Hospital, Geva Theatre, and the Wedge Waddle, among countless others. “We are part of the community. This is our home. And I believe our character is part of what attracts people and ensures that they’re satisfied when they visit us.”

Learn more about Hedonist by visiting them at hedonistchocolates.com or by stopping by the shop for a taste at 672 South Avenue.