When we started making truffles in our home kitchen in 2004, it was a hobby, a way to treat our friends and family to something special—and enjoy a few ourselves, of course. Before long, we were hearing the same response over and over: These are so good.You should start a business.
So we did!
Many years after opening our first shop, our kitchen has gotten a bit bigger (it’s a commercial kitchen—with lots of fun gadgets). We’ve also expanded to two locations in Portland. What hasn’t changed is our commitment to making handcrafted sweets using only the best ingredients. For us, chocolate-making is more than a business. It’s an art.
It’s also our way of fostering community and embracing all that Maine has to offer—both the people and the products. We use:
Regionally harvested organic maple syrup tapped in Madison
Sea salt from Marshfield
Cream from Misty Brook Farm in Albion
Butter from Casco Bay Creamery in Scarborough
Beer from Lucky Pigeon in Biddeford
Potato chips from Fox Family in Mapleton
Spirits from Cold River Vodka in Freeport
Coffee from Coffee by Design in Portland
And of course, the bar-none best blueberries in the world.
Our 30-plus varieties of truffles, caramels, and buttercreams are hand-dipped in our 1,200-square-foot kitchen and retail store, located in the heart of Portland’s Old Port. Many of our other seasonal products are created in our Cove Street store in East Bayside, one of the city’s most exciting up-and-coming areas. We source only the finest imported chocolate, with no preservatives or artificial flavors—ever. We don’t use any nuts or nut products and all of our chocolates are gluten-free. We also make dairy-free/vegan chocolates.
We still can’t believe how far our little business has come. But thanks to the incredible support of our community (and this amazing city), we’ve been able to live out our dream—and share it with the world.
Dean Bingham: Trufflemaker and co-founder
How do you train to become an expert truffle-maker? By spending 40 years as an architect, of course!
Really, my passion for sweets goes back—way back. Recently, while rummaging through some boxes in my basement, I came across a photo of a chocolate potluck I hosted sometime in the early ‘80s. I had no idea it would one day become my career—and a rewarding one at that.
While working in Blue Hill, Maine, I used to make truffles as gifts for friends and family, experimenting with different techniques and flavors. Like architecture, truffle-making requires a sense of aesthetics and design—and a laser-like attention to detail.
In my free time (which varies greatly by season), you can find me riding my bike, frequently accompanied by Kristin—except on my two solo cross-country rides to benefit the National MS Society.
Back when we first started our business, I couldn’t have dreamed our chocolates would be such a big hit. Now, I get to share my passion with you. Best of all, I get to do it with my life partner by my side.
Kristin Thalheimer Bingham: Co-founder
Hi, everyone! I’m Kristin Thalheimer Bingham, co-founder of Dean’s Sweets—and Dean’s partner in life and in business.
Like Dean, I’ve always loved chocolate. But it wasn’t until I tasted one of his creations, when we met in 2001, that I realized just how amazing chocolate could be. We sometimes joked about opening a business. Apparently, our jokes turned into the real thing.
In 2002, I’d just completed my MBA and was starting a new career as a business coach. That’s when the idea of opening a confectionery began to take shape. When I moved to Portland from Cambridge to marry Dean in 2006, we knew we’d found the perfect place to give our dream a go.
In addition to long days and nights surrounded by chocolate (tough, I know), I’m also a freelance editor for National Geographic Learning and Oxford University Press. In my free time, I love to play pickleball and cycle around Maine with Dean. I also love music.
I've also been lucky enough to be a part of Marketplace Business News on NPR a few times, discussing chocolate, our economy, and the pushes and pulls of change on our business. Here's a sample.
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