11 Brilliant Independent Chocolate Brands
When you walk into any store – whether that's a tidy corner shop or a massive supermarket – the one thing you can pretty much guarantee is that there is going to be a ridiculous amount of chocolate brands to choose from. We’re absolutely spoilt for choice.
I know that I personally go into a shop thinking that I know what I want, but then end up spending a good 20 minutes looking at option after option. Is that just me? I highly doubt it. Now, I’m not saying that I’m in any way, shape, or form some kind of chocolate connoisseur or highly trained expert, but I do eat an unhealthy amount of chocolate on a daily basis. I can’t help it though; chocolate just tastes so good. You can catch me snacking on chocolate before and after breakfast… and lunch…and dinner. Like I said, it’s not the healthiest habit.
Recently, though, I’ve been trying to cut back or at least find healthier chocolates to eat because, yes, you can actually find healthy chocolates that are still delicious. It just takes some research to find the ones that are worth having. Luckily for you, I've done that research and made a list of some of the best independent chocolate brands you can find right here in the UK.
Chococo was started in 2002 by husband and wife duo, Andy and Clare Burnet. The two came up with the brand’s name by combining the ‘choco’ part of ‘chocolate’ with the ‘co’ part of ‘company’. Hence: Chococo. The two started off making fresh chocolates by hand in a little unit in Swanage, using the upstairs as a makeshift shop. A proper bootstraps operation, their dining room table was originally used to display their chocolates so customers could see that they were real people making real chocolates in a real location.
Now, they’ve acquired more units and have opened up four distinct Chocolate Houses – which are essentially chocolate stores with cute little cafés attached to them. You can find these Chocolate Houses in Winchester, Exeter, Horsham and, of course, Swanage. Standout chocolates in their range include their award-winning Dorset Sea Salt Caramel Chocolates and Heavenly Honeycomb Chocolates. Should you be so inclined, you can even get chocolate box subscriptions or brownies delivered straight to your door.
Montezuma’s isn’t just a chocolate company, they’re a chocolate company with hardcore principles. They care about every person who contributes to their business – from the farmers and suppliers all the way to the factory workers. Montezuma’s is dedicated to ensuring that farmers are paid fairly and earn enough to support their families. Not only that, but they also care about our planet. Everything that is used for the packaging and distribution of their products is either recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable. Montezuma’s has an incredible range of chocolates, but their truffles look especially delicious to me. They’ve got a selection for pretty much every occasion imaginable, so check out their site and see what tickles your fancy.
Land Chocolate just seems cool, you know? Their packaging is, as far as chocolate brands go, pretty minimalistic and edgy and it gives off this young, hip artsy vibe. Which makes sense given that the man behind the brand is Phil Landers. Phil’s a young artisan who makes his chocolate in the heart of Hackney. Because of course he does. It’s also a place that you can visit to witness Land’s Bean-to-Bar Experience for yourself. Sign up for one of Phil’s expert-led chocolate tasting sessions and you can create your own personal bar which you can enjoy with a complimentary glass of wine or craft beer. Land Chocolate doesn’t have a huge selection but that just means you’ll spend less time worrying about what you want. Because you’ll want it all. Trust me.
Pump Street is an award-winning bakery that entered the chocolate game in 2012. What was once just a bakery has now evolved into something more. Something more chocolatey, to be exact. Pump Street now houses a shop, café, and café kitchen. Their website offers a large variety of products to choose from, and not just when it comes to chocolate! You can purchase some of Pump Street’s sublime baked treats for you and your fam as well as some quality bars of high-end choc. Their Six Eccles Cakes look just as amazing as their Ecuador Dark Milk 60% Caramelised Hazelnuts. So get both.
Cocoa Loco has been making organic and Fairtrade chocolate since 2005. They’re heavily passionate about wanting their chocolates to be organic. Their ingredients have been produced using fewer pesticides, no artificial additives, or preservatives. Cocoa Loco’s chocolates are handmade in small batches and wrapped in environmentally friendly packaging. I’ve never been one for dark or vegan chocolate, but Cocoa Loco’s vegan selection looks insane. Their Dark Chocolate Praline Truffles are definitely something I want to try.
Aneesh Popat is the genius behind award-winning chocolate brand, The Chocolatier. The Chocolatier isn’t just a business: it’s personal, it’s a journey. The company cares a lot about mission work and supporting the farmers they source their cacao from. Popat has even spent time in Alto El Sol, Peru to see the relationship between the chocolate makers and the farmers first-hand. When you buy from The Chocolatier, you can be confident that you’re making a positive change in the lives of children in India by supporting their education and access to materials and food. So go ahead and buy some chocolate, you’ll be doing some good, too. As for which bar to splurge on? Let’s just say the Popping Candy Milk Chocolate looks especially divine.
Forever Cacao is a family-run chocolate business. They use Cacao that has been ethically sourced from the Ashaninka in Peru. For those of you who don’t know, the Ashaninka are an indigenous people that reside in the rainforests of Peru and in the State of Acre, Brazil. Ashaninka families are the UK’s longest supplier of the finest Criollo Cacao which they grow, harvest, and dry themselves. Forever Cacao believe that now is the time to bring unroasted chocolate out of the shadow of its more lauded roasted counterpart. Forever Cacao aims to safeguard the Ashaninka’s heirloom Cacao and protect the Amazon Rainforest. They also aspire to make the best-tasting raw unroasted chocolate and their 72% Ashaninka Bean to Bar infused with Welsh lavender sounds particularly fantastic.
Willie’s Cacao is more than just a company, it’s a lifestyle. Willie Harcourt-Cooze’s love for adventure drove his passion for chocolate. He’s travelled to Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Madagascar and Indonesia to personally select all the cacao he uses in his chocolates. If the name Willie Harcourt-Cooze sounds familiar to you, that may be because he was featured on Channel 4 around 2008 in a series called Willie’s Chocolate Revolution: Raising the Bar. More recently, he appeared on Ed Gamble and James Acaster’s Off Menu podcast in December 2020. Willie’s Cacao has a huge selection of products to choose from but I’m partial to the Dark Chocolate Champagne Truffles.
Mighty Fine’s co-founders, Ross Newton and Kit Tomlinson, began their chocolate journey in a little shop in Camden Market in 2014. They handmade all their products then and still hand-make them today even though they’ve since moved into a snazzy new green-powered factory down in Hampshire. Their factory is 100% powered by renewable energy and their packaging, which is 90% recyclable now, will be 100% recyclable by the beginning of 2022. Honeycomb chocolates are their specialty, and it’s not hard to see why. Their Salted Caramel Honeycomb Dips look insane and you can get them delivered right to your door. It’s a no-lose situation.
Doisy & Dam
Doisy & Dam are an all-natural vegan chocolate brand that is dedicated to using better ingredients, better ethics and making better chocolate. There are no additives, e-numbers, or palm oil in their chocolates. They’re also a B-Corp company, which means they are required to hold themselves accountable and think about the impact they have on their workers, customers, community and the environment – something they’re more than happy to do given their better ethics mission. I don’t tend to buy vegan chocolate but Doisy & Dam have certainly made me rethink that. Given all the movie nights I have, their Dark Chocolate Movie Night Bundle seems the perfect thing to pair with a rom-com on the couch.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you recognised the name Whitakers. They have, after all, been around for 130 years. The family-run business was started by husband and wife, John and Rebecca Whitaker, in 1889 as a simple grocery store. By 1891, they had transformed the business into a bakery and confectionary. 12 years after that Ida Whitaker, John and Rebecca’s daughter, had become a master chocolatier. Fast forward to now, Whitakers manufacture their chocolates in their state-of-the-art chocolate factory and make over 10 million chocolates a week. Crazy, right? They have an unsurprisingly huge catalogue of products to choose from, so there’s every guarantee you’ll be able to find something that appeals to you. For me, it’s the Dark Chocolate Mint Wafer Thins which look divine. For those who don’t enjoy mint chocolate, there are other like Salted Caramel or Orange Wafer Thins available as well as truffles and bars galore. But don’t take my word for it, check out their site and go crazy.