Whether you stick it in the fridge, melt it down or suck on it to savour the flavour, chocolate is a universal vice. The creamy bars of cocoa are consumed by most Brits, on average, over 150 times per person per year, and spring sends the figures even higher with the arrival of Easter.
In Manchester we’re lucky to have everything from independent chocolatiers crafting bars in their kitchens to cafes dedicated solely to the sweet stuff, and there are even places offering vegan alternatives. If you’re feeling full Augustus Gloop this week, or you’re looking to treat your nearest and dearest to an artisanal bar of their favourite treat, there are plenty of local places that deserve your love.
You’ll find bars using beans from everywhere from India to Brazil, cafes serving cups of pure melted chocolate topped with a tuck shop of sweets and even hidden gems making chocolate bars with a nod to breakfast favourites. And if you’re more of a traditional milk chocolate consumer, there are plenty of places offering basic bars far better than your favourite supermarket versions.
Read on for our round-up of the best independent chocolatiers in Manchester.
Life with a newborn usually means a non-existent sleep schedule, a head full of nursery rhymes and difficulty finding time to truly wind down. Nina, the brains behind Born Chocolate, turned to her love of chocolate-making to relax after her days of new mum doting. Born’s geometric patterned bars of bean-to-bar chocolate celebrate simplicity with good quality, ethically sourced, minimal ingredients. Born is stocked by various shops around Manchester and Nina can be found at markets across the city with samples of her newest creations, including her vegan chocolate. There’s also the option to subscribe to receive three sustainable bars each month directly to your door.
The Chocolate Cafe
Known for its rolling hills, quaint Englishness and independent retailers, Ramsbottom is home to the very popular Chocolate Cafe. Taking you on a journey around the world, the cafe offers beans from the likes of Madagascar, Columbia and Belgium with each origin having its own distinctive flavour. You’ll find the sweet treat rolled into pizza form or chopped down into sleek bars to take home, but you can also grab a seat in the cafe’s cosy dining space. Here you can enjoy hot drinks, classic brunch dishes, brownies and even a chocolate tasting platter where diners can try five different regions of the beloved treat in brownie, chocolate pot, blondie, creme brûlée and hot chocolate form.
Chocolate Cafe, 2 Bolton St, Ramsbottom, Bury BL0 9HX
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning your very own leopard print chocolate stiletto, Nantwich’s Chocolate Sorcery is a must-visit. The chocolatier hand paints and hand crafts artisan, limited edition chocolates that are often indistinguishable from their muse, making the perfect gift for chocolate lovers with their own sense of style. Established back in 2018, the business is run from the kitchen of a 17th century cottage by a husband and wife pair passionate about the very best beans. Chocolate Sorcery also creates bespoke items as unique gifts for special occasions.
Chocolate Sorcery, Broomfield Cottage, Marsh Ln, Nantwich CW5 8PA
Have you ever wanted a piece of chocolate stamped with a picture of your cat? Of course you have. Located on a farm in Stockport’s High Lane, CocoAimes AKA Amy is crafting her very own brand of personalised slabs of Belgian chocolate, where you can get bars topped with everything from your pregnancy scan to a quote from your favourite movie. Very much a one woman operation, Amy’s business often pops up at markets across the region, but you can also pre-order personalised treats online, with every bar handmade to order.
CocoAimes, Unit 9b, Lomber Hey Farm, 74 Andrew Ln, High Lane, Stockport SK6 8HY
Aside from making the Barry Manilow classic loop around your brain, Cocoa Cabana, located in Ancoats and Didsbury, is a destination high on the list of the city’s chocoholics. Recently going viral with its Augustus Gloop hot chocolate that’s essentially a mug filled with three types of melted chocolate topped with marshmallows, mini eggs, a cream egg and even more chocolate drizzled on top, the chocolatier also houses a cocktail bar and a space for workshops. Open from 10am Monday – Sunday, the venue teaches everything from truffle making to cocktail masterclasses and tasting events, which can also be booked for hen parties, weddings and corporate events.
Cocoa Cabana, 7 Murray St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6HS
Cocoa Cabana, 68 Burton Rd, West Didsbury, Manchester M20 1LH
Cocoa Tree is a family run business located on Chorlton’s Wilbraham Road. Headed up by husband and wife duo Vicky and Chris, the chocolatiers have a knack for creating bars and boxes using natural, high-quality ingredients. They create vivid-coloured splatter-effect chocolates with flavours like lemon meringue, strawberries and clotted cream, madagascan vanilla and the fan favourite salted caramel. Their cafe is a relaxing retreat with an enticing counter of cakes and truffles. Apparently, the mocha is the venue’s most popular winter warmer on the drinks front, so make sure you try a cup.
Cocoa Tree, 492 Wilbraham Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9AS
A multi award-winning chocolatier tucked away on Deansgate Mews, Dormouse is a single estate chocolate maker that crafts bespoke confectionery from beans processed in its own little chocolate factory out back. Honoured with the prestigious accolade of Indie Food Producer of the Year at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival awards 2023, Dormouse specialises in bars with a northern nod. Take its popular bread and butter milk chocolate made using brown butter and toasted sourdough from its neighbours at Holy Grain. They’ve also previously made an egg on toast style bar and a pancake day bar.
Dormouse Chocolates, Unit O, Deansgate Mews, Manchester M3 4EN
Another marital team behind some seriously impressive chocolate, Éponine was founded by Chris and Natalie who decided to ditch their scientific careers and turn their hand to chocolate making. Not entirely dissimilar, Éponine expanded on the pair’s practical, lab based background to create bars that use grand-cru chocolate from global producers and explore both conventional and contemporary flavours. Some of their most impressive creations include their glossy boxes of heart shaped chocolates, with flavours like rhubarb crumble, flavoured gins, banana and rum, and coffee ganache.
Set to open later this year, Knoops will take over the former Chop’d store on Cross Street. Already a big name in the capital, Knoops will provide 20 different types of luxury hot chocolate. From milder 39% single origin through to 100% single origin from the Solomon Isles, if you’re looking for a bougier way to consume your liquid cocoa, Knoops has got you covered. Knoops also allows you to add additional flavours to your hot chocolate blend, including turmeric, pink peppercorns, chilli, rosemary and lavender.
Cheshire’s Layers has grown from kitchen pipe dream to a fully fledged Willy Wonka-style warehouse churning out handcrafted slabs that take influence from nostalgic Sunday afternoons at your grandparents’. The chocolatiers have packed everything from Liquorice Allsorts to Bakewell Tarts, Freddos, Bourbon biscuits and Custard Creams into their newest range of Easter eggs, all made using a blend of the company’s Belgian chocolate. Made to order online, Layers offers nationwide delivery and also a range of vegan takes on the brand’s best sellers.
Layers, 28 School Ln, Hartford, Northwich CW8 1PE
Based in Altrincham, Love Raw is an entirely plant-based chocolate operation that offers dairy free alternatives that don’t compromise on flavour. Its journey began back in 2013 in Rimi and Manav Thapar’s kitchen with a budget of £600, a food processor and a passion for dairy free treats. Since then, the brand has brushed off offers from Dragons Den, offered millions of samples to intrigued chocoholics and now sells its huge range of vegan confectionery worldwide. You’ll find creamy chocolate topped wafers, peanut butter cups, nutty chocolate balls, and more under Love Raw.
Love Raw, Station House Floor 3, Stamford New Rd, Altrincham WA14 1EP
At Pure Cocoa, you can get a glimpse of how the chocolate making process works from start to finish as the open plan cafe offers insight to a real life chocolate factory. The shop is full of handmade chocolate gifts or you can take a seat in Pure Cocoa’s cafe. On its menu you’ll find chocolate in every form, from rich hot chocolates to cakes, teas, milkshakes and the chocolatier’s famous chocolate brownies – huge slabs of freshly baked chocolate made exactly how they should be, fudgey on the outside and gooey in the middle.
Pure Cocoa, 2A Commercial Rd, Hazel Grove, Stockport SK7 4AA
R&M Fine Chocolates
The only kosher chocolatier on our list, R&M’s chocolates are certified kosher under the supervision of the Manchester Beth Din. There are both vegan and milk chocolate selections on offer as well as all kinds of chocolate making kits that come with everything you need to make your own truffles as well as a one hour Zoom class with their head chocolatier to show you the ropes. Chemical factory worker turned chocolatier, Raanan, the owner of R&M Fine Chocolates grew his Salford-based business from a hobby and also offers classes at his Salford base, covering everything from bonbons to truffles and Easter eggs, as well as chocolate parties for any occasion .
R&M Fine Chocolates, 72 Singleton Rd, Salford M7 4LU
Sam Joseph Chocolates
Altrincham’s Market House is the ultimate Sunday destination, complete with an array of Manchester’s most loved indies selling pottery, cheeses, artisanal bread and vintage fashion. Nine years ago Sam and his friend Claire decided to set up a chocolate business of their own after working together in hotels and restaurants. They moved into the market six months later, making and baking all of their spectacular products on site. Sam Joseph sells bars, chocolate covered fudge, brownies, ice cream and desserts, and you can even watch them making it all in their cosy on-site kitchen.
Sam Joseph Chocolates, Market House, Greenwood St, Altrincham WA14 1SA
Simon Dunn Chocolatier
Simon Dunn began making chocolate almost 40 years ago. At 15, he took a temporary role at Stockport’s Squirrel Horn sweet factory before going onto practise his chocolate graft across Europe. Now, his High Lane shop isn’t just popular with the local community, he’s even got the golden seal of approval from Coronation Street stars and Salford-born Jason Manford. You’ll find boxes packed full of 72 individual chocolates, personalised gifts, seasonal collections and boxes of vegan alternatives for any plant-based Bruce Bogtrotters. There are even chocolates printed with bees, very Manchester.
Simon Dunn Chocolatier, Unit 5 Rear of, 32 Buxton Rd, High Lane, Stockport SK6 8BH
Providing bespoke chocolate since 1967, Whitefield’s Slattery is a third generation family business housed in a three storey workshop. Similar to the iconic Betty’s Tea Rooms in York, Slattery has an onsite bakery, a retail shop and also its Masons dining room that provides breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and even a mammoth chocolate challenge that only a small number of chocoholics have managed to complete. For £20, diners can tackle a large portion of Slattery’s American style chocolate fudge cake, served warm, with a portion of homemade chocolate ice cream, fresh cream and two chocolate pots filled with liquid chocolate sauce. Add on top of this a glass of hot chocolate and the challenge begins. The winner will take home a Slattery chocolate medal and a 100g box of handmade chocolates – because there’s always room for more.
Slattery, 197 Bury New Rd, Whitefield, Manchester M45 6GE