By Michelle M. Sharp, Founder and Content Creator of Meet the Minnesota Makers

Photo by Joshua Feist

Have you ever dreamt of purchasing your own melanger? 

Caroline Houghton of Carobeans knew that she was serious about chocolate when she bought her own melanger to grind cocoa beans into chocolate. Carobeans is an artisan bean to bar chocolatier based in St Louis Park, MN.

Photo by Joshua Feist

Caroline has long had a sweet tooth. After developing a nut allergy as a teenager, she started baking for herself so that she knew that her favorite treats were safe. Laid off during the Covid pandemic, she registered as a cottage baker to develop her passion for quality treats into a business. 

With her allergy, Caroline was always cautious about the sourcing of her ingredients. One of her challenges was finding ethically made, affordable, and delicious chocolate for her baking. The majority of the commercially-available chocolate depends on child labor and unsustainable environmental practices. “I didn’t realize how bad the chocolate industry is until I started looking into it, which is why I decided to make my own,” shared Caroline. “I will never judge someone for buying or consuming commercial chocolate, I just want to offer a better alternative and educate people on what chocolate CAN be.”

The more she learned about and experimented with chocolate, the more amazed she was by the diversity of its flavor profiles. “It brings me such joy to see people try real bean to bar chocolate. They are usually amazed at the flavor. Most of us, myself included, grew up on Hershey bars, which is not really chocolate at all.” 

Her favorite thing to make is plain chocolate, to let the cacao beans speak for themselves through a high-quality bar. “It’s an endless experiment,” smiled Caroline. “I am fascinated by the process. The influence of the heat through roasting the beans is amazing. Little changes in temperature and time can have a big effect on your end product.” 

Craft chocolate is still a relatively small market. A big part of Caroline’s work is education. People may be surprised by the taste profiles when chocolate isn’t drowning in sugar and additives. They are also surprised by the cost. “It takes days to make a single bar. There are so many steps to prepare the beans and create a product for someone to enjoy,” said Caroline. “I love when my customers love my chocolate. It’s so affirming of the work it takes to make each truffle, each bar possible.” 

Caroline’s delighted by how supporting makers are of each other. “Even when other makers could be seen as competition, we try to lift each other up. It’s an amazing community of creatives.” This has led to some delightful collaborations including Caroline’s work with High End Confections. “I find that I’ve surprised myself on this journey. I never thought I would actually have my own business.” 

Photo by Joshua Feist

A self-proclaimed foodie, Caroline loves the combination of food and science that makes both her chocolates and her pastries possible. Outside of her kitchen, the most fun is at in-person events where people can sample what chocolate can be when allowed to shine. 

Carobeans signature item is her single origin bars. Caroline is always looking for new beans to try. She loves experimenting with different origins to see what taste profiles each will yield. Carobeans now makes inclusion bars wrapped in beautiful handmade paper. These single origin bars include additions like candied oranges or rum. 

For those who prefer to drink their chocolate, Carobeans’s menu offers brewing cacao. This brewed beverage is “somewhere between coffee, hot chocolate and tea, but without the caffeine or calories. Made with 100% organic and fairly-traded ground cacao from the Beni region in Bolivia, it is high in antioxidants, magnesium and theobromine.”

Caroline will be one of the three Minnesota Makers participating in the June 22 Taste Maker class at the Farm at the Arb Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Class

Photo by Joshua Feist

participants will sample Carobeans bean to bar chocolate in a guided tasting. Caroline will have select items available for sale after the class. 

Visit for upcoming events and to order directly. 

Follow @caro_beans on IG and @carobeans on FB to see what tasty treat Caroline has made today. 

Visit or follow @meettheminnesotamakers on Facebook and Instagram to discover the food innovators who make Minnesota a tasty place to be! Meet the Minnesota Makers is a news site that connects you to the local food, farms, artists and artisans that make Minnesota thrive.




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