Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute announces Cacao Grader Intensive course schedule for 2017 and 2018

Course supports professionals throughout the cacao-chocolate supply chain in consistently and accurately evaluating cacao quality

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts – May 23, 2017 – The Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute (FCCI) today announced its Cacao Grader Intensive course schedule for 2017 and early 2018. In the three-day training course, participants learn fine cacao and chocolate evaluation techniques. The course combines in-depth lectures on fine cacao and chocolate with intensive hands-on training in sample preparation and analysis.

The course teaches participants how to evaluate cacao and chocolate using a variety of traditional techniques, while focusing on FCCI’s innovative cacao sampling protocol. The FCCI protocol is unique due to its simplicity, repeatability, and accessibility, opening participation in quality conversations to all supply chain stakeholders in an unprecedented manner. It therefore serves as a critical complement to traditional chocolate liquor and finished chocolate product sampling protocols used in many chocolate companies.

The FCCI cacao sampling protocol is now being used by cooperatives, estates, private fermentaries, exporters, importers, chocolate makers, and other professionals in at least 23 countries: Australia, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Solomon Islands, United Kingdom, United States (including Hawaii), Vanuatu, and Venezuela. FCCI team members and collaborators have led workshops on the protocol in each of these countries as well. FCCI is collecting data and feedback from all participants to further refine its cacao evaluation system.

The Cacao Grader Intensive course, developed in consultation with scholarly experts, cacao and chocolate industry professionals, and certified coffee Q grading instructors, has previously been taught in the United States, Peru, and Brazil.

The course is suitable for cacao producers, quality managers, technical advisers, importers, exporters, chocolate makers and manufacturers, chocolatiers, and retail professionals. Conducted in a small group setting, it includes significant discussion and interaction with the instructors and fellow class members. Previous participants have gone on to employ their skills in various capacities throughout the industry.

Lectures cover the most up-to-date research findings on topics including:

  • history and culture of fine cacao and chocolate;
  • factors in specialty cacao and chocolate quality – genetics and agronomy, postharvest processing, storage and transport, and chocolate making;
  • science of cacao-chocolate flavor and sensory analysis;
  • supply chain – market basics, cacao sourcing, economics, politics, culture; and
  • ethics and transparency – social and environmental responsibility, certifications, models for success.

Rigorous hands-on training is another core focus. Course participants develop skills in:

  • external evaluation of raw cacao;
  • cut tests;
  • cacao sample protocol and preparation;
  • cacao sample organoleptic evaluation;
  • sensory analysis techniques and exercises – e.g. defect tasting, sensory deprivation, triangulation, calibration;
  • development of sensory lexicon; and
  • tasting and evaluating chocolate liquor and finished chocolate products.

The course is co-taught by award-winning researcher and lecturer Dr. Carla D. Martin of FCCI and Harvard University and internationally renowned chocolate maker Colin Gasko of Rogue Chocolatier, with additional guest lectures in certain sessions from celebrated educator and consultant Chloé Doutre Roussel.

Dr. Martin explained: “The Cacao Grader Intensive provides participants with knowledge, tools, and skills to better communicate about cacao quality and evaluation. Our methodology and training make evaluation accessible to cacao producers and professionals throughout the supply chain. Education on cacao quality is a serious issue that must be addressed with urgency in order for the fine chocolate sector to survive and flourish.”

Details on the upcoming open registration courses, to be held in New York City, Paris, and San Francisco, can be found here.

For more information, contact Dr. Carla D. Martin, Executive Director, Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute, contact@chocolateinstitute.org.