Manchester’s first bean to bar chocolate maker, Dormouse Chocolates, started producing its very first batches in Isobel’s home kitchen in December 2014. Isobel Carse, founder of Dormouse Chocolates, started her craft chocolate journey as a professional chocolatier with a budding drive to make bean to bar chocolate. Inevitably, Dormouse Chocolates outgrew its small kitchen space, and moved its operations to its own small-scale chocolate factory.
Dormouse Chocolates has earned itself a well deserved reputation for producing both experimental and limited edition bars, including the renowned Toasted White bar and the Experimental Harvest bars, with the latter demonstrating the difference the colour of the cocoa pod makes to chocolate, predominantly in terms of flavour, despite the beans found within those pods coming from the same harvest. To those lucky enough to try these experimental harvest bars, Red Pod and Yellow Pod, the difference in flavours was a sensation. And favourites, at the Cocoa Runners’ Craft Chocolate Takeover at Canopy Market 2018, were undoubtedly made.
With all eyes on Dormouse Chocolates, it had been awarded the UK Rising Star by the Academy of Chocolate in 2017. We are always looking forward to see what Dormouse Chocolates does next!
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!