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, Dilettante has blossomed into something much more. Featuring a full line of gourmet chocolates, confections, pastries, and artisan coffee, our craft continues to be celebrated and shared.
Dilettante’s Story begins with a man named Julius Rudolf Franzen. According to family journals, Julius left his home in Mediash, Hungary, to start a confectionery apprenticeship in Budapest at 12 years old. Due to his talent, Julius quickly received work across Europe and traveled to Vienna, Paris, and Russia.
In 1906, Julius served as a Master Pastry Chef to his most famous patron, the last great Hapsburg emperor, Franz Joseph I. To pay homage to Julius’ work, Dilettante would later name its signature Viennese medium roast coffee ‘the Hapsburg.’
Throughout his experience as a confectioner, Julius compiled recipes in his Master Notebook. This notebook would serve as inspiration for his great-nephew and Dilettante founder, Dana Taylor Davenport.
Julius traveled with his mother, Anna, and sister, Ottilia, to America in 1910. Moving through Ellis Island and then by train to Portland, Oregon, the family settled in Pacific Northwest. Two years later, Julius established his first confectionary enterprise in America, the Chocolate Truffle Company. The same year, Ottilia Franzen would marry Earl Remington Davenport, uniting the Franzen and Davenport families.
In 1921, Earl Davenport began a new profession as a candy maker, trained by Julius Franzen. Earl used his guidance to become a Master Confectioner. Two years later, Earl established the Davenport Chocolate Company in Portland, Oregon. The department stores Meier & Frank and Lipman & Wolf were the company’s first customers.
Shortly after the success of the Davenport Chocolate Company, Julius left Portland to pursue opportunities in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the year 1926, Earl Davenport relocated his family north to Walla Walla, Washington. Earl accepted the position as a director of the Bur-bee Candy Company. During this time, Earl began to train his two sons, Irving and Jerome, in all things confectionery.
Like Julius, Earl also kept meticulous records of his recipes in the form of hand-written notebooks. These notebooks contained his candy and confection formula experimentation. During a trip to San Francisco, Julius contributed his Master Recipes to Earl. Together, The Master Notebooks documented a wealth of knowledge over several decades of professional work.
Jerome Davenport continued the family tradition of candy making alive in his household. Jerome created toffee, fudge, and truffles together with his family. His son, Dana, began to develop an affinity for confectionery.
In the year 1976, the original Dilettante Location opened in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Then named, The Dilettante, the store served coffee, chocolates, and pastries and served as Seattle’s first mocha experience. The Master Notebooks and training from his Father Jerome and Uncle Irving helped Dana immeasurably. Their knowledge and expertise allowed Dana to perfect Dilettante’s signature flavor: Ephemere.
Derived from the word Ephemeral, meaning a brief and fleeting experience, Ephemere brought together caramelized butter, sugar, and cream for a velvety smooth taste. Ephemere offers a deeply savory experience with a rich, full-bodied taste. The Ephemere began as a chocolate sauce to create mochas, but the flavor soon became a chocolate truffle. Dana considers the Ephemere truffle as his family’s heirloom truffle, a culmination of decades of combined experience.
Five years after The Dilettante opened its doors, Dana’s work attracted the attention of The Pacific Northwest Wagner Festival. To celebrate the performance of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, the festival commissioned Dilettante to create a festival confection. Named after the first of the four musical dramas, Dilettante introduced its Rheingold Toffee, soon becoming another iconic confection from the company.
During the 28th annual National Fancy Food and Confection Show in New York City, the Dilettante Chocolate Truffle Assortment won both the Grand Show Award and the Best Domestic Candy award. The award brought international attention to Dilettante and its specialty handcrafted truffles.
Dilettante’s truffles would receive even more attention after being featured on PBS with Julia Child. 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.
Dilettante's Chocolate-Covered Fruit debuted in 1991. The original flavors included locally sourced dried cherries and apricots. The success of these two flavors led to the creation of chocolate-covered blueberries and strawberries, creating the classic fruit medley assortment.
In 1998, Dana Davenport embarked on a Chocolate Tour of Europe aboard the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship during her maiden season. Invited to instruct chocolate-making classes, Dana taught cruise guests the art of truffle and fudge making.
Five years later, Dilettante created the first of its Mocha Cafes in the heart of downtown Seattle. The creation of Hapsburg Viennese Medium Dark Roast coffee blend allowed the Mocha Café’s coffee to perfectly pair with its chocolate.
In 2006, Dilettante Chocolates joined the Seattle Gourmet Foods family to answer the demands of expansion.
The owners of Seattle Gourmet Foods, Kathy and Dave Taylor, worked with Dana to reformulate the Davenport Trufflemint, christening the new creation, TruffleCremes. The treat featured a traditional meltaway formula, using higher cacao percentages and unique flavor combinations wrapped in bright foils. In a few short years, TruffleCremes became one of Dilettante’s most popular items.
The Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon recognized the ingenuity of Dilettante in 2008 after awarding its Chocolate Pioneer Award. Dilettante would continue to introduce more favorites over time, such as chocolate-covered espresso beans, cookie gems, and new flavors of caramels.
In 2013, Dilettante separated from Seattle Gourmet Foods to expand the blossoming Dilettante Mocha Café concept. Today, Dilettante is proud to continue sharing its craft with four Mocha Café locations and a skilled team of confectioners. With over forty-five years of public acclaim through awards and accolades of many satisfied customers, Dilettante hopes to provide the highest-quality artisan chocolates possible.