CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

World-class chocolate - made in Gloucestershire

PUBLISHED: 13:04 09 April 2015 | UPDATED: 13:04 09 April 2015

Doble and Bignall

Doble and Bignall

Archant

From a converted Gloucestershire garage, Simon Doble and Margie Bignall are producing their world-class ‘bean to bar’ chocolate, as Mark Taylor found out

Simon Doble and Margie Bignall of Doble and BignallSimon Doble and Margie Bignall of Doble and Bignall

It may not be production on the scale of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, but from their converted garage near Bishop’s Cleeve, Simon Doble and Margie Bignall are producing world-class chocolate bars that even Willie Wonka would be proud of.

The couple launched their Doble and Bignall brand of artisan chocolate in April 2014 and they have already increased production from 10kg a week to 40kg, with the list of stockists growing all the time, including Whole Foods in Cheltenham.

Their business started as a hobby - Margie runs her own company as an ecological consultant and Simon was a business psychologist and agricultural and environment consultant - but it is already becoming a full-time occupation.

The couple got the idea for their ‘bean to bar’ chocolate after hearing a BBC Radio 4 food programme interview with Mott Green of the Grenada Chocolate Company. Green was talking about the plight of small farmers growing cocoa who are often paid less than a living wage for their crop.

He had a vision of small cacaofeviers (chocolate-makers) around the world directly trading with producers and paying a good price for fine cocoa.

“I was captivated by this idea,” says Margie. “I love chocolate but I was aware of the poor conditions that many cocoa farmers live in and it gave me the idea for the business.

“We visited a British chocolate-maker, came home with a small granite melanger (a grinder for the beans) and made our first bar of chocolate in September 2013.

Simon Doble and Margie Bignall of Doble and BignallSimon Doble and Margie Bignall of Doble and Bignall

“It was actually edible and quite nice, so we spent the autumn researching cocoa beans and a recipe, got an artist and designer on board for the packaging and sold our first bar of chocolate in Broadway Deli in April 2014.”

Doble and Bignall currently make two types of chocolate - a 50% milk chocolate called Tawny Owl and Raven, a 70% dark chocolate - with cocoa beans from Panama, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which they roast and temper themselves to create the purest chocolate.

The cocoa beans are directly-traded with the producers, so the farmers are getting a fair price for their product, which is usually two or three times more than the bulk cocoa price.

Doble & Bignall are part of a small but fast-growing new wave of artisan chocolate makers in the UK, each one trying to create ‘real’ chocolate without the addition of flavourings and emulsifiers.

Margie says, “We are not exactly unique, but we reckon there are less than 10 small batch producers of ‘bean to bar’ chocolate in the UK, so we are one of a very small band.

“But it’s a growing number, as people become more interested in good quality chocolate, its provenance and how it is made. We are very proud of the fact that we do not use any flavourings or emulsifiers in our chocolate – it is ‘real’ chocolate.”

At £1.50 for a taster bar and around £3.80 for the 80g boxes, the chocolate might be more expensive than your average bar of Cadbury’s, but the price reflects the artisanal quality of this handmade product.

After starting with local delis, a major breakthrough for Doble and Bignall was getting their products on the shelves of Whole Foods Markets in Cheltenham, and then suppling stockists in London. To keep up with demand, production has increased to 7,000 bars and there are now 25 stockists, as well as an online shop.

“We believe that chocolate is undergoing the same transformation as coffee did ten years ago. Coffee in cafes just used to be black or white but now you are offered several different types of coffee and in some places you can even choose the coffee bean origin.

“People are gradually learning that not all chocolate is the same and that it can be appreciated like a fine wine. Chocolates made from different cocoa beans taste very different, just like wines differ according to the grapes they are made from.

“It is a case of educating people to a new understanding of one of their favourite treats and introducing people to the gloriously different tastes of cocoa beans in real chocolate.”

www.dobleandbignall.co.uk

-----------------------------

This article by Mark Taylor is from the April 2015 issue of Cotswold Life

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One hundred years ago this month the guns fell silent, marking the end of what was to become known as The Great War. Stephen Roberts remembers the impact the war had on Cotswold lives from 1914-1918

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Being a region so steeped in history, there are plenty of locations in the Cotswolds with spooky stories from over the years. From bloody executions, eerie apparitions and headless horsemen, we pick 23 of the most haunted locations throughout the Cotswolds to visit if you dare

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New bat cams installed at Woodchester Mansion help study protected breeds while also becoming an added attraction for visitors. Jo Barber looks at the work of one of the UK’s foremost bat experts and the mansion’s valued volunteers

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From an all-boy, all boarding prep school for just 30 pupils, to the quietly trailblazing yet still traditional school it is today – here is a snapshot of Beaudesert over its 110-year history

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Of all the castles in the region, none have seen as much war, romance and royalty as Sudeley over its dramatic 1,000-year history. And with such a colourful and eventful past, it is easy to see why some people believe there could be spirits from bygone eras which still wander the halls and corridors to this day

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Following a record year for ‘visitor giving’ donations via local businesses, applications are invited to fund conservation projects

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

What started as a business ploy by one Cotswold firm has developed into an inspirational garden

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

If a bit of English eccentricity is your thing, spend an enjoyable afternoon exploring the delightful follies of Faringdon

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search