We first met Isobel of Dormouse Chocolates at the Chocolate Show London in October 2015. Her stand was just around the corner from ours. Always intrigued by new names and faces, we wondered over to discover that as well as making moreish truffles and treats, she was also crafting chocolate straight from the the bean. We got to chatting, chocolate changed hand and we knew we had found the latest British micro-batch maker for our Chocolate Library.
Based in Manchester, Dormouse Chocolate first started out in Isobel’s kitchen at home. She has recently moved into an exciting new space: the Old Grenada Studios. Purpose-built in 1954, this was home to Grenada Television until 2013. While the television studios have relocated, the building and surrounding area have become a hub for local art, craft, culture and food, including Dormouse Chocolates.
We spoke a little bit to Isobel to find out more about her and where she wants Dormouse Chocolates to go:
- What’s your background? Why and how did you get into chocolate?
I first got in to chocolate when I took a Christmas temp job at a luxury chocolate shop while I was studying. I ended up staying there and developing a passion for fine chocolate. When they offered me a job as a bean to bar chocolatier I jumped at the chance, and haven’t looked back since!
- What mission have you set yourselves for making chocolate?
My aim is to create small batches that showcase the flavour of the origin bean. Everything is done in a very hands-on, low-fi way, from hand sorting the beans before roasting, to hand tempering on marble and wrapping the bars.
- When did you start your company — and with whom? How many are there of you?
I started Dormouse in December 2014, originally the plan was to make truffles but I kept getting pulled back to the idea of bean to bar so purchased my first grinder pretty soon after that. Currently the business is just me, with occasional support and washing up duty from my partner Karen. I started out in the kitchen at home, but now work from a kitchen at the Old Granada Studio building (in what was the staff canteen when the studios were housed here).
- Where do you want to go next? New bars? New beans? New markets?
I’m currently working on new bean sources, which will lead to new bars. One plan that I’m most excited about is a range of limited editions, these will be one off batches of either new origins or flavoured bars.
- How did you source your beans?
The source for the bean depends on the origin, and is something I’m working on at the moment. My goal is to source as directly as possible, especially as the business grows and I am able to purchase in larger quantities
- Similarly would love to hear more about innovations in tech, crafting, marketing etc. you’re pursuing
At the moment I’m enjoying keeping things old-school! I think it’s important to preserve the art of doing things by hand, although there are times that I wish I had more machinery in the kitchen!!
- What is your favourite food? Wine? Other chocolate makers?
Apart from chocolate I love a good crumbly cheese! My primary outlet for sales is local farmers markets which means I end up coming home with great, locally made/grown produce. Of course getting my Cocoa Runners subscription through the door is a highlight of the month too!