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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.”

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