A Family's Passion for Chocolate Since 1898

Inspired by a long family tradition of candy and pastry making dating back to 1898, Dana Davenport founded Dilettante Chocolates in 1976 in the vibrant Capitol Hill district of Seattle, Washington.

From our humble roots as a neighborhood chocolate and coffee shop, we’ve blossomed into a thriving retail and wholesale business featuring a full line of gourmet chocolates, confections, pastries, and artisan coffee. Our Seattle-area retail stores include a successful chain of Mocha Café coffee shops.

Dilettante History - A Detailed Look Back

Julius Franzen

The Beginning of Something Special

Family journals indicate that Julius Rudolf Franzen leaves his home in Mediash, Hungary to begin a confectionery apprenticeship in Budapest at the age of 12. This leads to further work in Vienna, Paris, and Russia and also marks the beginning of Julius compiling recipes in his Master Notebook – recipes that will one day inspire his great nephew, Dana Taylor Davenport, Dilettante Chocolates founder and Master Chocolatier.

Franz Josef I

Julius Franzen becomes Master Pastry Chef to the Hapsburg Imperial Court of Franz Josef I, Emperor of Austria.

Ottilia & Julius

Journey to a New Land

Julius Franzen immigrates to the United States from Saint Petersburg, Russia after also serving as Master Confectioner to the court of Czar Nicolas II. Julius’s mother, Anna Franzen, and sister, Ottilia Franzen, join him on this voyage by sea to Ellis Island, then by train to Portland, Oregon.

Ottilia Franzen marries Earl Remington Davenport (Dana Davenport’s Grandfather) – the Franzen and Davenport families are united.

Julius & Chocolate Truffle Co. Staff

Julius Franzen establishes the Chocolate Truffle Company in Portland, Oregon. This marks his first confectionery enterprise in America.

Earl Davenport teaches candy-making

Earl Davenport begins a new profession as a candy maker, trained by Julius Franzen. Under Julius’s direction Earl becomes a Master Confectioner.

Factory workers at Davenport Chocolate Co.

Earl Davenport establishes the Davenport Chocolate Co. in Portland, Oregon. Among the company’s first customers were the Meier & Frank and Lipman & Wolf department stores. Shortly thereafter Julius leaves Portland to pursue opportunities in the cosmopolitan San Francisco Bay Area.

Earl Davenport relocates his family to Walla Walla, Washington, the cultural center of Washington State at the time. Earl takes a position as Director of the Bur-bee Candy Company. During this time, Earl’s sons Irving and Jerome (Dana Davenport’s father) receive their early confectionery training from their father.

The Master Notebooks

Earl continues to keep meticulous records in the form of hand-written notebooks, documenting his candy and confection formula experimentation. Julius contributes his own Master Recipes to these notebooks during Earl’s visits to San Francisco.

Jerome & Dana Davenport

The Family Legacy Continues

Jerome Davenport keeps the family tradition of candy making alive in his household through creating toffee, fudge, and truffles together with his family. His son, Dana Davenport, begins to develop his affinity for all things confectionery.

Dana at the Flagship Store

A New Chocolate Enterprise

Inspired by the hand-written notebooks of his Grandfather Earl and Great Uncle Julius, Dana Davenport opens the original Dilettante Chocolates location (then named, “The Dilettante”) in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. With training from his Father Jerome and Uncle Irving, he focuses on chocolate truffles, fine pastries, and coffee service. He also perfects his Ephemere® Chocolate Sauce, creating the foundation for Seattle’s first mocha experience.

Rheingold Butter Toffee is Born!

The Pacific Northwest Wagner Festival commissions Dana Davenport to create a Festival Confection to celebrate the performance of Wagner’s “Ring Cycle.” Dilettante’s signature Rheingold Butter Toffee debuts.

The Dilettante Chocolate Truffle Assortment wins both the Grand Show Award and the Best Domestic Candy Award at the 28th annual National Fancy Food and Confection Show in NYC. This gains the company worldwide attention and propels sales across the United States and in Canada and Mexico.

Dana with Julia Child

Dilettante Featured on PBS with Julia Child

Dana is featured making his chocolate truffles on Julia Child’s PBS television production, Dinner at Julia’s. Filmed on location at the Dilettante Chocolate Factory on Cherry Street in Seattle’s Central District.

Debut of our Chocolate Covered Fruit

By enrobing locally sourced dried cherries and apricots with high-quality chocolate, Dana Davenport pioneers a new category of chocolate confections - Chocolate Covered Dried Fruit. The confection is a hit, leading to the development of our signature Dilettante Fruit Medley®, along with many more fruity chocolate delicacies.

Dana Davenport

Dana Davenport embarks on a Chocolate Tour of Europe aboard the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship during her maiden season. Invited to instruct chocolate-making classes, Dana teaches cruise guests the art of truffle and fudge making.

Dana at the first Mocha Café

The Dilettante Mocha Café Concept is Realized

Dilettante Mocha Café debuts with the launch of our flagship Mocha Café in the heart of downtown Seattle. Dana Davenport creates two coffee blends, the Hapsburg Viennese Medium Dark Roast and Romanov French Dark Roast, to complement the Dilettante chocolate profile.

To answer the demands of expansion, Dilettante Chocolates joins the Seattle Gourmet Foods family owned by Kathy & Dave Taylor.

Debut of the TruffleCreme®

To reflect the changing tastes of a generation, Dana Davenport, along with Kathy and Dave Taylor, reformulate the Davenport Trufflemint, christening the new creation "TruffleCremes®." The new chocolate treat features a traditional meltaway formula, using higher cacao percentages and new flavor combinations.

Dilettante Chocolates receives the "Chocolate Pioneer Award" at the Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon.

With dedication to further expanding the blossoming Dilettante Mocha Café concept, Dilettante Chocolates separates from Seattle Gourmet Foods under Kathy Taylor's enthusiastic leadership as President.

Onward & Upward!

With the help of Kathy Taylor’s insightful leadership and the dedication of her skilled team of confectioners, Dilettante Chocolates continues to grow. With a treasure trove of recipes, and talent waiting in the wings, there is high anticipation that new creative successes will continue to emerge – successes worthy of the early vision and passion of Grandpa Earl and Great Uncle Julius from whom it began all those years ago.

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Dilettante Chocolates

Premium chocolates, coffee & desserts since 1976. Heirloom family recipes since 1898. We use only the finest ingredients in creating our gourmet chocolates & renowned coffee beverages.