Professional classes

Cacao Grader Intensive

The Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute (FCCI) Cacao Grader Intensive is a three-day training course in which participants learn fine cacao and chocolate grading techniques. View the full course description here or by downloading this pdf.

Our next open admission classes are scheduled for:

Previous FCCI Cacao Grader Intensive classes were held in:

We are also working with several partners in cacao growing countries to offer classes in the near future. These plans tend to come together with less prior notice.

Check back here or sign up for our newsletter to be notified of upcoming course dates and enrollment periods.

Cacao quality evaluation

FCCI provides rigorous training in cacao sampling and calibration for professionals who seek to consistently and accurately evaluate cacao quality worldwide. Our goal in this training is to create a common language and communication tool for cacao quality, giving all supply chain stakeholders a more accessible, objective way of providing feedback to one another. Our curriculum was designed following significant research with cacao producers, chocolate professionals, and scholarly experts. The course is suitable for cacao producers, quality managers, technical advisers, importers, exporters, chocolate makers and manufacturers, chocolatiers, and retail professionals.

The course teaches participants how to evaluate cacao and chocolate using a variety of traditional techniques, while focusing on FCCI’s innovative cacao grading 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.

FCCI representatives are active members of the Working Group on the Development of International Standards for the Assessment of Cocoa Quality and Flavours, the Fine Chocolate Industry Association Sensory Standards Working Group, and regularly hold conversations with major stakeholders in cacao quality evaluation. We likewise engage frequently with cacao producers globally, soliciting their suggestions and approval on our work.

The FCCI cacao grading protocol is now being used by cooperatives, estates, private fermentaries, exporters, importers, chocolate makers, and other professionals in at least 50 countries: Australia, Austria, Belize, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Martinique, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States (including Hawaii), Vanuatu, Venezuela, and Vietnam. 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.

Previous participants in the course have found it useful to their career and business goals, stating:

  • “I gained a deeper understanding of cacao, its potential defects and fine aromas. This understanding is essential to creating a quality final chocolate product and will help anyone working with cacao and chocolate;”
  • “I have a whole new appreciation for sensory evaluation techniques, and how this can fit into any effective quality control program. We are even reevaluating parts of our business model because some of our assumptions have changed based on what we learned;” and
  • “The sensory training provided much-needed structure to my knowledge. The lectures filled gaps in what I know about the chocolate market and sustainability. I use what I learned daily in my work producing cacao.”

FCCI cacao grading protocol and evaluation sheet

The FCCI cacao grading protocol (both laboratory protocol and field protocol) and evaluation sheet documents are available for download here. Please note that these documents represent version 1.0 and are subject to change based on user feedback being collected as part of international standardization efforts.

If you are using the FCCI cacao grading protocol, please let us know so that we can track expansion of its use. If you would like to get more involved with the protocol design, please also contact us for more information. We are eager to collaborate! Email us at and someone from our team will respond to you as soon as possible.