Mörk Chocolate: small business grant winner shines on the world stage

25 August 2023

Take your small business or business event to the next level with a grant from the City of Melbourne. Applications for our next rounds of funding are open until Monday 25 September. 

Josefin Zernell co-founded Mörk Chocolate with her husband Kiril, and the pair were the recipients of a Small Business Grant in 2014. Back then, the business was in it’s early days as a small, husband-and-wife operation. 

Now, Mörk tempts customers with decadent hot chocolate, toasty marshmallows and pillowy Swedish cinnamon buns at multiple locations – Errol Street in North Melbourne, Equitable Place in the central city and the iconic Queen Victoria Market. 

The company now has its own chocolate factory and a growing line of baked goods. Operations even began in the United Kingdom in 2016 and Japan in 2019, putting another magnificent Melbourne brand on the world map. 

Mörk’s hole-in-the-wall cafe in Equitable Place, in central Melbourne

“We started Mörk out of a wish to help form an Australian drinking chocolate culture,” Josefin said.  

“Much of the drinking chocolate here at the time was built on European or American tradition, and we felt it was time to build a brand that suited our Australian drinking culture, based on strong values and highest quality.

“Almost 12 years later we are so proud of our journey.”

A mug of Mörk hot chocolate, perfectly paired with a toasted marshmallow

One of the secret ingredients is… Melbourne

The Mörk team loves operating amid the buzz of central Melbourne, and it has found a particularly passionate group of fans in the local student community.

“We started out as a young business with a product that was boldly dark, and a cafe that didn’t serve coffee or food. Being located in an area of universities and the bustling food culture scene in CBD has helped bring curious minds to Mörk, for experiences that are unique and accessible,” Josefin said.

“We truly believe that our food culture, and so many of our niche and specialised concepts, are heavily inspired and supported by the number of students that reside here.

“Running a business in inner Melbourne has been hugely important for our success.”

Customers enjoy a takeaway treat in Equitable Place

Celebrating Mörk’s major milestones 

Josefin credits Mörk’s biggest milestone as the launch of its Cacao Roastery and Chocolate Foundry in North Melbourne in 2021, where the team manufactures high-quality products using sustainable processes. 

“Our factory was a project that took many years to come to fruition, partly due to the extensive knowledge we needed to gain and the capital that was required to source beans and produce bean-to-bar chocolate to such high quality,” Josefin said. 

“The latest milestone was opening a store in the Dairy Produce Hall in Queen Victoria Market. It had been dream for us since the early days of Mörk to be part of this iconic market and the largest trading place for independent and owner-operated businesses in Australia. We built this store around the experience of our chocolate craft.” 

A tray of Swedish cinnamon buns

Looking to the future, the sky is the limit for Mörk, with three local locations, a growing network of Melbourne cafes stocking its bakery products, and international interest on the rise. 

“We are proud of how our business has grown and strengthened, and especially with the opportunities and jobs we have been able to create,” Josefin said.  

“The support that City of Melbourne offered early on helped provide the confidence and trust that we had what it takes to make it.” 

Grow your business confidence with a grant 

Mörk was the recipient of a City of Melbourne Small Business Grant in the very early days of its business, and ever since the owners have taken us up on many opportunities to showcase their newest concepts through our events and programs. 

“The grant gave us the confidence to not only invest the right way for our growth, but also to focus on our business plan, and it was certainly the booster for taking the leap into making our business our full-time jobs,” Josefin said.  

“The financial guidance we were provided as a Small Business Grant recipient helped drive our plans in the right direction and once we were ready to scale up, we were prepared. 

“We have gone from a small husband-and-wife business to creating many new jobs and marketing opportunities for Australian brands on the world scene.”  

A Mörk team member at work

Top business tips from an innovative chocolatier 

Are you looking to start or grow a small business? Josefin said flexibility is one of the keys to success. 

“Consider your business adaptability with concepts that allow for growth but also evolution, sometimes at short notice,” Josefin said.  

“The business climate has changed over the past years and we know that our business has come through with ability and aim to always evolve and learn.  

“We have seen competition over the years, but none that have threatened our brand, and much of this is thanks to the extremely detailed and considered concept we have developed.”  

Mörk serves up blowtorched-to-order s’mores

How to apply for a Small Business Grant 

Our Small Business Grants Program supports local businesses to start, grow and expand, while enhancing the city’s economic resilience, shopfront occupancy and reputation for innovation.

The City of Melbourne has been delivering small business grants every year since 1998. To browse more past recipients, find out more and apply for funding, visit Small Business Grants Program

How to apply for Business Events Sponsorship 

Our Business Event Sponsorship Program supports businesses and individuals hosting local events that encourage business development and capacity building. This includes conferences, showcases, workshops, seminars, exhibitions and networking functions.

To find out more and apply for funding, visit Business Events Sponsorship Program

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