Chocolate Conservatory

Our signature professional education event is the Chocolate Conservatory, held annually around the world.



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.


Our next open admission classes for 2019-2020 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.


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.”


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.



February 2019

AST Live!
Berlin, Germany
FCCI’s Dr. Carla D. Martin presented “More than Mochas – Exploring Chocolate and Coffee Together” at this event for Authorized Specialty Coffee Association Trainers.

February 2019
Chocoa European Markets Academy
Amsterdam, Netherlands
FCCI’s José Lopez Ganem provided a research-based introduction to the size, scale, and trends in the specialty cacao and chocolate market of Europe and North America.


February 2019
Visit to Culinary Institute of America

Hyde Park, New York
FCCI staff worked with over 200 CIA students and faculty in two two-hour workshops on cacao quality grading and one 60 minute lecture and tasting on the history, culture, and global politics of the chocolate industry. Special thanks go to Dean Thomas Vaccaro, Professor Peter Greweling, the team of Fruition Chocolate, and recent CIA grad Sofi Colmenares for their gracious hospitality.


January 2019
GRULAC meeting

Providence, Rhode Island
We presented our work with FCCI at the GRULAC (Group of Latin America and the Caribbean) meeting at the Rhode Island State House. We are grateful to the Consuls General of Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico for the invitation, and to Lieutenant Governor Daniel J. McKee for hosting us.

October 2018
FCCI Chocolate Conservatory

Cambridge, Massachusetts
In partnership with Harvard University, FCCI hosted its inaugural Chocolate Conservatory, a two-day conference on specialty cacao and chocolate for members of the industry and the scholarly academy.

August 28, 2018
Specialty Coffee Association Sensory Forum

Seoul, South Korea
Carla D. Martin presented a lecture and sensory exercise on Chocolate Tasting and Cacao Grading at the inaugural Sensory Forum in Seoul, South Korea, hosted by the Specialty Coffee Association. Approximately 130 specialty coffee professionals attended. Chocolate samples were generously provided by Andiamo.

August 10, 2018
FCCI seminars and social gathering

Tokyo, Japan
FCCI instructors presented a special series of lectures at Visionary Arts on the current state of the global specialty cacao and chocolate market. These lectures were attended by approximately 100 Japanese chocolate and culinary professionals. The lectures were followed by an evening social gathering at Daylight Kitchen hosted by Tate Adachi of Visionary Arts and Carla D. Martin, featuring a Latin-Japanese menu prepared by Chefs Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe and Jose Lopez Ganem, and chocolate tasting games led by Chloe Doutre Roussel.

June 30, 2018
Fine Chocolate Industry Association Elevate Chocolate event

Four FCCI team members, Fatima-Zohra Hakam, Sunny Levine, José López Ganem, and Carla Martin, attended the FCIA Elevate Chocolate event to present and network with industry members. Members of our team advised the FCIA on their National Research on Consumer Perception of Fine Chocolate; the organization has made this available to their members via their website. Read a summary of the research here [pdf].

June 2018
National Cacao Conference

Port-au-Prince, Haiti
On June 21 and 22, FCCI participated in the National Cacao Conference. This conference, hosted by Catholic Relief Services in collaboration with a variety of other actors, brought together approximately 200 key actors and national decision makers from across the value chain to engage in discussion in markets, governance, finance, and research. Together, we discussed the country’s current status as a cacao producer in the Caribbean, and outlined a SWOT analysis of the sector. Our Executive Director offered two lectures based on FCCI research and two practical workshops on cacao and chocolate quality evaluation to attendees.


April 2018
Meetings in France

The FCCI team conducted a variety of meetings in Lyon, Paris, Preuilly, and Igny, France. One visit was particularly remarkable. Guided by our colleague Dr. Marie-Catherine Paquier of the European Business School, we visited the Nuns of the Cistercian Abbey of Igny in Champagne, a space long renowned for making chocolate and confections, especially the bouchons d’Igny et spécialités champenoises (we highly recommend trying these!). While visiting the Abbey, we discussed the history of production in the area, the significance of craftwork to the monastic lifestyle, and the relationship between local chocolate and champagne. We also hosted a chocolate tasting for the sisters. This visit proved an unforgettable experience and we look forward to future conversations with our new friends.


April 2018
World Cocoa Conference

Berlin, Germany
Four FCCI team members–José López Ganem, Carla D. Martin, Kerstin Roos, and Anthony Rue–attended the World Cocoa Conference in Berlin, along with approximately 1,500 industry professionals from around the world. Read tweets from the event here. The Berlin Declaration, a document prepared over the course of the conference with attendee input, is available to read here. Over lunch one day, we invited a group of attendees to taste specialty chocolate together (see image below). During the conference, we also met with many colleagues in the chocolate industry in Hamburg and Berlin to solidify ongoing and future collaboration.


March 6, 2018
BLOOM event

Providence, Rhode Island
Carla D. Martin presented on “More than mochas: exploring coffee and chocolate together” on March 6, at the specialty coffee BLOOM event in Rhode Island hosted by the Barista Guild of the Specialty Coffee Association. Special thanks go to the teams at Chocolopolis and gâté comme des filles for providing tasting samples of chocolate bars and drinking chocolate for attendees.


February 2018

Amsterdam, Netherlands
FCCI team members participated in the Chocoa event from February 21-25, presenting at the European Markets Academy, Chocolate Makers Forum, and Festival. Of special interest was the FCCI Cacao Grading Workshop, attended by two dozen cacao and chocolate professionals from seven countries. FCCI Cacao Grader Intensive alums and new users of the FCCI cacao sampling protocol practiced cacao evaluation together at this event.


February 4, 2018
Roots of Cacao Symposium

New York City, New York
Carla D. Martin was honored to represent FCCI as a speaker at the Roots of Cacao Symposium hosted by Chef Michael Laiskonis of The Chocolate Lab at the Institute of Culinary Education. This highly successful event brought together 100+ chocolate and culinary professionals, academics, and connoisseurs for discussion and debate on the state of the industry.


January 21, 2018
Cacao + Coffee Roasting Summit

Oakland, California
The FCCI – The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room Cacao + Coffee Roasting Summit was held in January at Pulley Collective. Instructors Jen Apodaca of Royal Coffee, Adam Dick of Dick Taylor Chocolate, and Josh Rosen of Charm School Chocolate led 45 chocolate and coffee professionals through presentations on roasting, heat transfer, and sample tasting. This event filled up quickly; the team hopes to make it available again in the future in different cities.


January 20, 2018
Fine Chocolate Industry Association Elevate Chocolate event

San Francisco, California
Two research reports – the FCIA Consumer Research project and the FCCI-UCDavis Survey project – were made at the FCIA event in January, assisted by Carla D. Martin. The Consumer Research project information is available to FCIA members.


November 2017
International cacao quality standards report published

Bioversity International has now published the report on the International stakeholders’ consultations on the development and validation of proposed international standards on cocoa quality and flavour assessment [pdf]. This report, compiled by Brigitte Laliberte, details the discussions held during the two meetings to which FCCI representatives contributed in Managua, Nicaragua and Paris, France in fall 2017.


November 13, 2017
ICCO International Symposium on Cocoa Research

Lima, Peru
Carla D. Martin, spoke at the International Cocoa Organization’s ISCR meeting in Lima, Peru, an event that brought together nearly 500 researchers and practitioners from around the world. Her presentation, entitled “Cocoa quality evaluation: lessons from social science and producer-centric approaches,” detailed the work of FCCI’s cacao grading initiative (with protocol adoption in 30 countries) and related projects from an anthropological perspective.


November 2017
Chocolate Makers Unconference and Northwest Chocolate Festival

Seattle, Washington
FCCI representatives presented on four separate occasions during the specialty chocolate events in Seattle in November, covering our work toward international cacao quality standards and the FCCI-UC Davis survey project. Approximately 200 community members joined us for tasting and action-research discussions throughout the weekend.


October 2017

Paris, France
FCCI partnered with our colleagues Victoire Finaz of Les Carrés Victoire and Greg D’Alesandre of Dandelion Chocolate to host a Fête BYOB (bring your own bar) for specialty chocolate makers and cacao producers in Paris. Attendees from 17 countries, many of them new chocolate makers from cacao producing regions, shared and celebrated their work together.


October 2017
Salon du Chocolat

Paris, France
Chloe Doutre Roussel and Carla D. Martin presented to an audience of cacao-chocolate professionals in the Village B2B at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris. Together, they introduced existing initiatives in cacao quality evaluation and explained FCCI’s work and upcoming projects.

October 2017
International cacao quality standards follow-up meeting

Paris, France
In our ongoing work toward agreement on international standards for cacao quality, FCCI representatives in Paris contributed to a follow-up meeting to the “International Stakeholders Consultation on the Development and Validation of Proposed International Standards on Cocoa Quality and Flavour Assessments.” The meeting was sponsored by Lutheran World Relief, Cocoa of Excellence, Bioversity International, AMACACAO, Catholic Relief Services, Christian Aid, Guittard Chocolate Company, Cocoa Research Centre of the University of the West Indies (CRC), Valrhona, and the ECA/Caobisco/FCC Cocoa Research Fund.


October 2017
Valrhona workshop

Tain L’Hermitage, France
FCCI Cacao Grader instructors Colin Gasko and Carla D. Martin presented a two-hour workshop at Valrhona Chocolate to the Valrhona Innovation team, made up of cacao quality and sensory experts, to practice the FCCI sampling protocol. Thank you especially to Pierre Costet, Clotilde Hue, Florent Coste, and Justine Branchu for hosting our visit.


October 17, 2017
Equal Exchange/TCHO CDP partners visit

Cambridge, Massachusetts
Our collaborators from the Dominican Republic (CLAC, CONACADO), Peru (ACOPAGRO, CAMSA, Norandino, Oro Verde, Progreso), Equal Exchange, and TCHO Chocolate shared their expertise on cacao quality with students, faculty, and cacao-chocolate community members in an exchange at Harvard University. We at FCCI have had the good fortune to work with this group of experts since 2016 when many of them took our Cacao Grader Intensive course in Lima, Peru, and it was an honor to share this opportunity to learn from them with our colleagues in the United States.


September 2017
FCCI in Brazil

FCCI representatives Carla Martin and Anthony Rue traveled to Brazil to visit with specialty cacao and coffee professionals and present on the FCCI cacao sampling protocol and chocolate tasting at a workshop organized by Juliana Aquino (Vale Potumuju and Baianí) and Arcelia Gallardo (Mission Chocolate) of the Associação Bean to Bar Brasil and hosted by Rogério Kamei at Mestiço Chocolates in São Paulo. Twenty-five coffee and cacao-chocolate professionals attended and tasted cacao and chocolates from around the world. Following this event, the team introduced specialty cacao and chocolate evaluation at the Perfect Daily Grind’s Microcoffee Festival in Franca, Brazil, where more than 150 Brazilian coffee producers came together with 50 coffee professionals visiting Brazil for several days of exchange.


September 2017
International cacao quality standards meeting

Managua, Nicaragua
To forward FCCI’s ongoing efforts to work toward agreement on international standards for cacao quality, FCCI representatives Chloe Doutre Roussel, Colin Gasko, and Carla Martin contributed to the “International Stakeholders Consultation on the Development and Validation of Proposed International Standards on Cocoa Quality and Flavour Assessments” held in Managua, Nicaragua from September 19-21. Approximately 50 attendees from 17 countries worked for three days toward the goal of agreeing on international standards for assessing cacao quality and flavors, beginning with physical evaluation of cacao beans, to sensory evaluation of powder, liquor, and chocolate. Much work must still be done and many additional stakeholders must be consulted, but we remain eager to support successful development of these standards through our activities at FCCI. The meeting was sponsored by Lutheran World Relief, Cocoa of Excellence, Bioversity International, AMACACAO, Catholic Relief Services, Christian Aid, Guittard Chocolate Company, Cocoa Research Centre of the University of the West Indies (CRC), Valrhona, and the ECA/Caobisco/FCC Cocoa Research Fund.


August 2017
Mexican cacao and chocolate delegation

New York City, New York
FCCI representatives were honored to join a delegation of Mexican cacao and chocolate professionals to New York City in late August. Visitors from Mexico included representatives of INIFAP, CONABIO, MUCHO Chocolates, Wolter Chocolates, and the Culinary Institute of America. Two companies: TA.CHO Taller de Chocolates and Caramela Chocolateria also participated with their materials. Over three days of intercultural exchange activities, the group held planning meetings, toured local chocolate makers and chocolatiers, participated in a culinary event celebrating award-winning Mexican-made chocolate at Verde in NYC, and contributed to a cacao and chocolate tasting generously hosted in the residence of the Consul General, Diego Gomez-Pickering. Attendees at the tasting included representatives from 2Beans, The Big Chocolate Show, The Chocolate Life, Chocolate Noise, City University of New York, Cocoa of Excellence, Consulate General of Mexico in New York, Culinary Institute of America, Goodnow Farms Chocolate, Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund, International Chocolate Awards, La Newyorkina, Manhattan Chocolate Society, RAMajor, Rogue Chocolatier, Sharon Klein Graphic Design, and more. This event represented extraordinary collaboration among a group of expert stakeholders toward supporting the promotion of Mexican specialty cacao and chocolate. We are grateful for their participation.


June 10, 2017
New England Makers Melt

Sudbury, Massachusetts
FCCI was thrilled to partner with two of our hometown collaborators – Goodnow Farms Chocolate and Equal Exchange – to organize the first annual New England Makers Melt, hosted at the gorgeous Goodnow Farms space in Sudbury, Massachusetts. This gathering brought together more than 50 of our local New England and Québec chocolate makers, chocolatiers, retailers, cacao importers, and nonprofit professionals for a relaxed day of sharing ideas, sampling one another’s products, and discussing potential future projects.