A Very Happy Birthday to Us

Posted on November 11, 2017 by Brave the Skies Collaborator

We can hardly believe it! We're coming up for our 6th birthday! 

How can it seem such a long time yet so quick? I think actually we say the same every year! Well 6 years ago our lovely landlord took a gamble on a very enthusiastic chocolate lover, entrusting us with a beautiful building that we have treasured ever since. Those who have been part of our journey from the beginning might know the story already. We were given 24 hours to decide before it was to be offered to everyone else, so with a very deep breath I begged Michelle to give up her job at a very prominent tea room in the city and come on this crazy roller coaster of a journey with me.

So with a set of keys, a ridiculously small business loan, a lot of naivety and boundless enthusiasm we set about opening York Cocoa House. We had 3 weeks to open for Christmas and try and make enough money to keep going. It's probably just as well we were as naive as we were, had we known what would be in store we would never have done it, on reflection though, if I could have told my younger self the people we would have met, the opportunities we would have ahead or that now, 6 years later we're on course to open a real chocolate factory I would never have believed myself!


Thank you for your ongoing support and custom, and particularly those who have joined us with your investment into our chocolate making vision! Here's to the next year for all of us! We can't wait to share 2018 with you! 



It's All About the Cacao!

Posted on November 09, 2017 by Brave the Skies Collaborator

The last few weeks have all been about the cacao. The raw little beans that magically transform into the chocolate that we love! 

Our journey and adventure into chocolate making has been an interesting and long one, at times tedious and unnecessarily slow and at others overwhelming in choices, ideas and opportunities. My first ambition to make chocolate was inspired by a school girl in the US called Amy, at aged 9 she had assembled rudimentary domestic items in her own home to learn how to create chocolate from scratch. Amy experienced some of the same things I have heard along the way - that basically it's not possible without a large factory and expensive equipment. With a large factory on our door step and mentalities that have been doing it the same way for so long, like us, Amy experienced a lot of resistance to her idea, until she found encouraging friends to support her project, the product she created finally proved that it could be done. While it can be done, its not to necessarily say that its easy to do, and that's where my own determined journey started, reading, listening, learning, playing and finding a way to do it anyway.

Cacao for Analysis     Cacao Cut Test On our way to being a connoisseur




One of the biggest challenges then and still today is connecting in with a supply chain that is so entrenched in the way its always been done it creates barriers to entry prohibitive to an aspiring chocolate maker just starting out and learning their craft. But what is exciting is that since Amy started out on her journey over 15 years ago, and I became inspired by her 9 years ago - is the rest of the world and an emerging sector of the chocolate industry has realised it's not such a stupid idea anymore. 

So, as I said, the last few weeks have all been about the cacao. From working with samples at the London Chocolate Show, presenting the International Chocolate Awards, studying with the Fine Chocolate and Cacao Institute, celebrating with our farmers at the International Cocoa Awards in Paris and then confirming our cacao orders with our Colombian cacao partners. It's been a busy few weeks! 

One particular highlight was to have the opportunity to learn from Chloe Doutre-Roussell, the former chocolate buyer at Fortnum & Mason, whose book - "The Connoisseurs Guide To Chocolate" can be blamed for introducing me to Amy's story and the very idea of a chocolate expert. Having received Chloe's book as a present for Christmas in 2008 I proclaimed in the New Year that my resolution would be to become a chocolate expert just like Chloe! Everyone thought it was a joke, a fantastical job that couldn't possibly exist. So, to have the opportunity to work with Chloe has been beyond exciting, it was a long ambition coming full circle.

Our key objective these last few weeks was to get a thorough understanding of cacao, what quality must look like, what volumes we need, what flavours we are looking for, what impact we want to make and who we want to work with.

Our vision remains as it was from the outset - we aspire to create shorter, more connected and valued supply chains. Our ambition is not to own cacao farms, it is to work more directly and with more impact with those that do, valuing their expertise and hard work in cultivating the essential material of our chocolate. It is important to recognise that there are some links in the chain that are valuable, part of our journey is to understand where value needs to be added and where a challenge or an opportunity presents itself and what we need to do to overcome these. 

Cacao Tales The Suarez Guzman Family from Tolima

The reality is there are an increasing number of cacao farmers, traders and operators wanting to bring a product to market where the crop and their work is valued. When the current price of cacao at the farm gates is at a depressing low, who can blame them. It doesn't all have certificates or qualifications, it's not all of a "fine" standard, or originating from a country with "fine" designation. The truth and reality of cacao is that it's messy, it's temperamental, it's beautiful and it embodies so many elements of humanity in a process evolved and been developed by an innovative chain that transcends countries, continents, civilisations and communities. 

Over the coming months we must start making our commitments to cacao. Which trader, which country, which region, which farmer, community, variety, harvest, volume, what impact and at what cost. I am very appreciative of the organisations that have been supporting us on our journey so far with knowledge, insights, cacao and the sharing of their network. 

The one thing we do know from our learning the last few weeks is that it will continue to be a long learning process, I have now come to understand that it might always be so. Our best approach is to always keep an open mind with open discourse and an open approach to our stakeholders from across the spectrum. I would appreciate and welcome your thoughts, perspective and ideas as this week we learn and start making the necessary decisions.

Georgia & Sophie with Dr Carla Martin & Chloe Doutre-Roussel

Join us this Christmas for a very special Chocolatey Christmas Dinner

Posted on November 08, 2017 by Sophie Jewett

Our team have been busy devising a very special chocolate menu to explore a whole range of innovative flavours and combinations to create our very special Christmas Chocolate Dining Menu. 
All of our menus at York Cocoa House are designed by our chef Ellen Connor to incorporate chocolate in a unique and interesting way. 
Join us this Christmas for a truly indulgent evening with this year's seasonal special menu:


Christmas Supper Club Menu 2017
Cocoa House Bread Basket:
Chocolate Olive Tapenade Plait & Cocoa Nib Rye Bread
with garlic & nib butter
Teacup of Winter Root Vegetable Soup 
with a spiced white chocolate shard
Selection of Cocoa House Appetisers:
Smoked Salmon with a White Chocolate Dill Yoghurt
Dark Chocolate Chicken Liver Pate served with Crisp Bread
MIni Chocolate Barbeque Quesadillas (V)
Sweet Peppers stuffed with a White Chocolate Goat's Cheese Cream (V) 
Your choice of main course:
Roast Chicken Breast served with a Chocolate Port Wine Sauce
Chocolate Beef Stout Open Pie
Cranberry & Chestnut Mushroom Cocoa Tart
all served with roast potatoes, glazed carrots &  chiffonade of sprouts
and your choice of Dessert
Chocolate Orange Bread & Butter Pudding
Christmas Chocolate Hot Fondant 
Black Forest Mess
scoops of Yorvale double chocolate & vanilla ice cream with cocoa meringues, cherries and whipped cream


Reservations can be made online for groups of up to 10 people in size by selecting the date and time you would like to join us from our usual Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings. We're also offering exclusive dining celebrations for parties of up to 25 throughout the festive season. 

We're looking forward to seeing you and being able to share some very imaginative chocolate combinations. As always, we're happy to cater for a broad range of guests with special dietary requirements, please do not hesitate to contact the team if we can be of any further assistance. 

Book your Christmas Chocolate Dining Evening with the team online here




Own your own part of York's newest Chocolate Factory

Posted on August 06, 2017 by Sophie Jewett

We're now live on crowdcube! Join us on our journey as we bring fine chocolate making back to York.

We're sharing our plans to bring fine chocolate making back to York with our vision for York Cocoa Works. We're creating a chocolate production, education and development centre at 10 Castlegate and we're inviting you to join us to be part of the next stage of our chocolate making adventure! 

We're now live on crowdcube and looking to our community of chocolate lovers to have the opportunity to join us on this next stage of the journey. 

Discover more about our chocolate making plans by visiting or visit our pitch live on crowdcube here or visit us at York Cocoa House and find out more about our plans. 

Time to share what we've been up to

Posted on July 22, 2017 by Sophie Jewett


York Cocoa Works

I have just seen how long it has taken us to update the website and share any of our latest news, it's mostly because we've been squirrelling away working to make our vision happen. We've had little snippets but wanted to get things in place first.

I'm really excited to share with you our plans to bring fine chocolate making back to York. We have just collected the keys this last week for our new property at 10 Castlegate where we will be creating York Cocoa Works. It will be a chocolate production, education and development centre in the heart of York, just yards from the spot where Henry Isaac Rowntree started his Cocoa, Chocolate and Chicory business in the old Tuke store.

Over the last 3 years we've been trialling recipes, ingredients and equipment and have met so many amazing chocolate lovers and experts who have helped us on our journey. Your input has helped us craft our vision and plan to create outstanding chocolate from fabulous cacao.

We have lots of work to do still, and the team need to get on site to complete the fit-out. We hope this will be starting in September ready for us to be open in January 2018, just after Christmas.

In the meantime you'll see some changes to our brand and products as we continue on this journey. I'd love your input and to involve you in the process, particularly in tasting our chocolate as we get the hang of our ingredients and equipment over the coming months and respond to the flavours of the latest cacao harvests coming from our friends in Colombia, Peru and Uganda.

I've been wanting to share this for such a long time, there's just been so much work to do, and there is still to come, but I can't wait to tell you more. You can keep updated with the project by signing up here or visit the York Cocoa Works website and discover how you can be involved by joining us at our forthcoming Discovery Events.

Before you go and discover more about our plans I'd like to just say thank you, it's been an amazing 6 years at the York Cocoa House, our plans and our vision has been entirely shaped by our community, our customers and an amazing team of chocolate lovers who have joined us. We would not be able to embark on this next phase without your feedback, support and custom, I hope you will continue to join us and be part of the next 6 years of chocolate making.

Many, many thanks


Learn more about the project at 

York Cocoa Works

We're ready to celebrate the New Year now!

Posted on January 17, 2016 by Sophie Jewett

We know it's far too late to be wishing a Happy New Year, but in our business we've found ourselves spending half the year living and breathing Christmas, we're now definitely over it and ready to get very excited about what's going to be happening in the year ahead. 

So 2016! 

Well we have decided that this is very much the year for us to Love Chocolate! Well that's nothing new, surely? Well it's not really! We adore chocolate, and we're still very much in love with it as much, if not more so, than when we started! However there's been some very sad stories in the media recently about bean to bar chocolate products and more recently about the questionable sourcing of beans. It's very much reminded us why we went into the chocolate business in the first place.

Our ambition has always been to make chocolate ourselves, from the cocoa bean to the finished product, shortening the supply chain and making sure we can pass more value onto our chocolate loving customers and more wealth to the farmers who grow the cacao.

With this in mind I've decided to declare our new year's resolutions. In 2015 we made our own products from what we in the industry call 'couverture' - that means that a much larger chocolate maker has roasted, ground and blended the cacao before it reaches us, the chocolatiers, pretty much most of the industry work this way. By the end of 2015 we were creating our Own Blend Couverture that we used to make our Elect Chocolates, our Award Winning Signature Hot Chocolate, 60% Own Blend Buttons and Fondant Creams. It was a start and was able to teach us lots about the chocolate making process and about our customers, we've been able to honestly say we don't use any soy lecithin to thin the chocolate down, and have never put milk into our machinery and we've learnt how much you value these points.

While it accounted for about 10% of our chocolate sales, we want to be able to have a much more distinctive quality to our products and ensure that money we spend in ingredients is being spent as wisely as it can.

This week our first shipment of South American Cocoa Nibs arrive, there might be some changes in taste, but we believe they will all be for the better as we start playing around with different blends and recipes.

I'm very much looking forward to sharing the results with you soon. In the meantime, come and ask for a sample if you're passing, you can help us get the flavour spot on!

Hope you have a great start to 2016!

Lots of Love