HAMPSHIRE’S only chocolate factory is now open as a café too.

Lyndon Winters, 41, from Fulflood in Winchester, has been making chocolate from bean to bar for nearly 10 years and believes he is still the only person doing so in Hampshire.

The father of one started Ethicoco in his garage before finding a permanent spot for his business in Titchfield near Wickham. The factory in Fontley Road is now open to the public as a café every Saturday.

While chocolatiers make confectionary from chocolate, Lyndon is using his machinery to create the chocolate from cocoa beans over several days.

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Hampshire Chronicle: Lyndon WintersLyndon Winters (Image: Adele Bouchard)

He said: “My daughter Ella is dairy-free and all the chocolate options for her weren’t very good. I started roasting beans with my little machines to find out what makes a nice product. I ended up settling on oats and was the first person to bring oat chocolate into the world – I spent a long time researching so I could make that claim.

“Chocolate making is still very niche because it’s not profitable. You’re not going to get rich from it, you make chocolate because you love it.

“I was working as a web designer for 17 years. Ella had just started school and I couldn’t find a job that worked around her school hours. I was unemployed for nine months but had a bit of savings left so I started making chocolate and selling it at fairs and on Etsy.

“The business doubled in profits every year until Covid happened. I’m now trading at 10 per cent of what I was before the pandemic. Covid changed people’s habits but it’s the cost-of-living now – this is a non-essential luxury item so people just aren’t buying it like they used to.

Hampshire Chronicle: EthicocoEthicoco (Image: Adele Bouchard)

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“We opened the café shop in mid-October and Christmas was really good but January has been quiet as expected. We’ll open the café more as we get busier, I’m also starting to run chocolate workshops for kids which I’ll do again throughout the Easter holidays.

“We get a lot of traffic driving past but it’s just about letting them know we’re here. We definitely need more customers again.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Hot chocolate at EthicocoHot chocolate at Ethicoco (Image: Adele Bouchard)

As well as chocolate and hot chocolate the café shop offers other drinks and snacks like croissants, coffee from Winchester Coffee Roasters and Char Teas.

Lyndon buys the beans from all over the world and samples them before choosing whether to buy more. The chocolate maker uses equipment he has built to transform the beans into chocolate over around four days.

Once he has the flavour he wants, Lyndon tempers the chocolate and creates the bars before wrapping them in recyclable materials.

Ethicoco is open to the public every Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Lyndon and his partner Taya Campbell-Over also attend vegan fairs across the country, selling their bars and hot chocolate. For more information go to ethicoco.com/.