A top chocolate cafe in York criticised by food hygiene inspectors says it has never received any similar comments in the two years it has traded.

Cocoa Joes in Museum Street received a one-star out of five food hygiene rating from City of York Council, meaning ‘major improvement necessary,’ following an inspection on June 23.

The Food Standards Agency says the venue’s food handling hygeine is ‘generally satisfactory’, with ‘improvement necessary’ for cleanliness and condition of the food and facilities, and ‘major improvement necessary’ for management of food safety.

York Press: Some of the drinks on offer

This contrasts with its five-stars for food on TripAdvisor, with 84 out of 86 ratings being ‘excellent’ (two were very good), making it second out of 29 venues in York for desserts/café. The latest reviewer called it ‘chocolate heaven’ this week.


A council report noted defects including a lack of record keeping, milk being kept at an ambient temperature, and a handwash basin being used for washing equipment. The dishwasher, fridge and coffee machine could have been cleaner, it said.

Director Joseph Andrew blames the result on ‘a few factors’ and a ‘few unfortunate errors.’

York Press: Joseph Andrew, director of Cocoa JoesJoseph Andrew, director of Cocoa Joes (Image: Pic supplied)


The York branch has the same written policies as its Harrogate sister, he said, but York Council is different. A new staff member was working on the day of the inspection, who would have been supervised by the manager, but they were busy with the food safety officer, so certain matters could not be addressed.

The milk was warm as it had been transferred from upstairs on one of the hottest days of the year, causing a ‘spike’ in the fridge temperature.


Joseph continued: “We have redone our entire cleaning and food handling procedure from the ground up. The old system, implemented by a manager who is no longer in their role, has been replaced by a new policy.

"We now have multiple safety checks a day, all new staff are given much more thorough training, we have also doubled the amount of time allocated for regular and deep cleaning tasks and conducted a fresh risk assessment on all areas of the shop. Every change that has been flagged from the inspection has been thoroughly addressed.”

York Press: The interior of the cafe

It was ‘not acceptable’ standards ‘slipped’ that day, and he was now happy with them, said Joseph. Matters have also been ‘thoroughly addressed’ and a fresh inspection sought, he said.

Joseph added: “We have never received a complaint or been investigated over standards in over the two years we have been open. We have always had an excellent record for our allergy procedure in particular and the products we deal with (dairy and chocolate) are very low risk.

“This combined with the fact that we have already made the necessary changes in the shop and are now just waiting on the council to come and see for themselves means we are very satisfied that any causes for concern have now been removed.”