By Charles Warner The Union Daily Times, S.C.
The companionship she received from her morning cup of coffee inspired a Union woman to become, first, an author and, most recently, an entrepreneur who operates an online "virtual coffee shop and gift store."
Danielle Bell is the owner of "Ellé Bell Café" (www.ElleBellCafe.com), a business that she says grew out of a book she wrote about coffee two years ago.
"It originated with a book I had written called 'Café Passion: A Java Romance,'" Bell said. "It all started because of coffee." Bell said that coffee provided her with the friendship she needed after moving to Union County.
"Coffee isn't just coffee for me," Bell said. "I'm from Wisconsin and when I first moved to South Carolina I had moved away from my family and all I had to rely on was my morning cup of comfort. Coffee was like friendship, it is warm, comfortable and puts a smile on your face. I had my daughter with me, but in those quiet times it was just me and coffee."
Bell said that she began to write about what coffee meant to her, first in her journal and then online. She said her co-workers began reading what she wrote online and urged her to write more. That, she said, is what lead her to write "Café Passion."
"I've always loved writing, I keep a journal with me and when I get ideas I write them down," Bell said. "I would put them on my Facebook page in the morning, just me and my cup of coffee, and I got a following. People were checking in with me about my adventures with coffee.
"A lot of them were people I work with at Ellen Sagar, they were new friends," she said. "They didn't know a lot about me, but reading Facebook they said if I put it into a book they would buy it. They wanted to read more, they wanted to know what would happen."
Bell said she then proceeded to gather together what she'd written and "I had enough for a small, softcover, self-published book. I think it is truly the ultimate coffee table book. You could read it cover to cover or you could just open it up and read a couple of excerpts. It's a fun little book."
Café Passion: A Java Romance is available for purchase on amazon.com and at Bell's other website etsy.com/shop/ElleBellCafe. The success of her book inspired Bell -- whose nickname is "Elle" -- to branch out and the result was the creation of www.ElleBellCafe.com and etsy.com/shop/ElleBellCafe and the development of an online business as well as her continuing to write about coffee.
"Ellé Bell Café is a virtual coffee shop and gift store," Bell said. "The website has some of my notes and scribblings from my journal entries. I've also started a blog.
"What I was doing was going to coffeehouses and exploring everything about that coffeehouse," she said. "I was walking around the neighborhood, seeing what's going on, talking to the owners, talking to the people. Then I write about the experience. These are the coffee shops that give back. They have a special something to them."
In addition to writing about coffee online, Bell is now making and selling coffee-scented candles.
"Making candles has been a hobby of mine since my kids were little," Bell said. "It just seemed like a good time to pick it up again."
Like many entrepreneurs who market their wares on the web, Bell's candle-making business is based in her home. Since she began making and selling candles in April 2015, Bell has developed a variety of candles with a variety of pleasing scents including "Salted Caramel Coffee," "Blueberry Hazelnut Coffee," and a "Spiced Breakfast Roast" which Bell said has a little touch of cinnamon added to it that "smells nice in the winter."
Valentine's Day is approaching, and Bell has a limited edition "Love Spell Candle" which is described on etsy.com/shop/ElleBellCafe as a "blend of lush citrus sweetened with hints of berry and surrounded with deep floral overtones of lavender. A shimmering musk undertone adds sensuality making it a perfect Valentines Day gift!"
In addition to the candles, etsy.com/shop/ElleBellCafe also carries Bell's line of gift baskets including the "Birthday Gift Basket," "Coffee Lovers Gift Basket," "Executive Gift Basket," and the "super special" "Valentines Day Gift Basket." The Valentines Day Gift Basket includes the following:
-- One 1/2 lb of Luxurious Organic Coffee packed in a compostable bag.
-- One "Cafe Passion" mug that will make anyone hot for coffee!
-- One hand-written and stamped natural muslin bag with a tea light candle.
Holding these items together, is a hand-woven wood chip and twine accented willow tray with cloth cover. Later, this strong gift basket can display fruit on a table or be used to place decorative accents in to add warmth to home décor.
Features -- Coffee Locally roasted in Spartanburg, SC -- Beans are roasted to medium-dark to bring out the decadently rich flavor -- Roasted and Packaged the same day and sold within 30 days for extra freshness -- Hand-Woven Basket that can be re-used as home décor
Ingredients -- Fresh Roasted Organic Cameroon Peaberry Coffee Beans -- 100% Compostable Heat Sealed Bag -- Handwoven Wood Chip and Twine Basket with Cloth Cover -- Cafe Passion Coffee Mug -- Love
Also available through the site are coffee and cups, tea lights, books, wedding favor bags, and the "mystery box." Visitors to the www.ElleBellCafe.com website can also browse the merchandise Bell has to offer as well as read her biography and her journal, including, of course, her thoughts on coffee.
"I believe if you can find happiness, joy and even companionship from a cup of coffee you can find it anywhere."