Craft chocolate arrives in Little Havana
At the edge of Little Havana, below a painted ‘We Make Chocolate’ sign and in a space that used to be Catholic relics shop, is a dessert lover’s paradise: Exquisito Chocolates, Miami’s first craft chocolate factory and shop.
Owner Carolina Quijano, A.B. ‘07, says she brings high-quality, ethically sourced chocolate to Miami. “We’re dealing with the top 5% quality cacao available in the world,” she says. “We’re offering quality, we’re offering sustainability for the farms and for the environments they work in and – a better-quality product.”
A Miami native who grew up between Colombia and the U.S., Quijano studied psychology and worked as a management consultant for years before truly falling in love with chocolate. She spent a year making and testing recipes in her studio apartment in New York City before quitting her corporate job and moving to Miami.
She started in a small warehouse space, making wholesale chocolate for different businesses but soon realized that there was a lot of opportunity in this relatively new craft chocolate industry. She found a space and opened the doors to her store in May 2018 (with Congresswomen and former UM President Donna Shalala in attendance).
The business has since grown to offer more options – including tours, classes, and custom chocolate – with the same attention to high quality. A glass window separates the shop from the factory, allowing visitors a glimpse into the art of chocolate making.
On display in the store are carefully crafted chocolate truffles as colorful as the puns that name them: gold and black Champagne Papi, silky blue Rumbelievable, red guava-infused Little Guavana. Single bean bars are wrapped in whimsical yet simple designs, and the walls are lined with colorful photographs, taken by Quijano herself, of the cocoa farms all over Latin America – from Ecuador, to Haiti, to Guatemala and more.
“Chocolate is not just chocolate,” Quijano says. “It’s many different flavor profiles and we really try to highlight that with each bar that we carry.” Their most popular chocolate bar? Café Con Leche, made with neighbor and fellow alumni-owned Per’La Roasters coffee.
Exquisito Chocolates is located at 2606 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL 33135. For more information please visit: exquisitochocolates.com. UM Alumni can receive a 20% discount on select purchases.