About the course

The IICCT Certificate Course in Cacao Evaluation and Profiling is a professional training course suitable for cacao cooperatives, commercial operations and technical or development organisations who wish to develop a deeper understanding of flavour in fine cacao.

This course is currently available to institutions and development projects in cacao growing countries. A public bookable version of the course is being planned for the end of 2018.

The Cacao Evaluation course will develop the sensory skills needed to assess cacao quality through its flavour and show how creating flavour and cultural origin profiles can be used to market fine cacao.

The Cacao Evaluation and Profiling course is usually held over 3 to 4 days, depending on requirements and can be combined with our Certificate in Chocolate Tasting courses for a full understanding of fine flavour, from cacao to chocolate.


The Institute’s evaluation method is based on sensory tasting of cacao, providing an understanding of cacao flavour and quality that can be applied with any sample preparation protocol, including dried cacao, cocoa liquor and chocolate.

Our approach recognises that cacao is a crop grown to produce foods giving us pleasure and an enjoyable eating experience. Products made with fine cacao focus on improved flavour that is directly related to the flavour of the cacao. We use basic tasting principles to determine if cacao has an enjoyable flavour or has defects to give a quality score and flavour profile.

The IICCT Certificate Course in Cacao Evaluation and Profiling approaches cacao quality through flavour evaluation using the most easily available sensory equipment that we have, our personal senses of aroma and taste. This is complemented by an understanding of how human sensory tasting of cacao and chocolate works, plus an understanding of technical criteria for cacao evaluation and how they relate to taste. The main purpose of fine cacao is to produce fine chocolate products, so the Cacao Flavour Evaluation Course includes an understanding of chocolate production techniques and chocolate tasting, and relates cacao flavour and quality through to the flavour notes found in fine chocolate.

Flavour profiles are created using our electronic evaluation system, with training provided to use the system and group flavour profiles of the samples created as outputs from the course.

The flavour profile elements are combined with case studies of cacao origin and cultural profiling, providing tools to create a complete picture of a cacao, which can be used for brand, region or country marketing.

Course content

The Certificate course provides a framework curriculum which can be customised to each client’s needs, while including core elements allowing a standardised evaluation approach and assessment of students skills to achieve certification.

The Certificate Course in Cacao Flavour Evaluation course will include:

  • sensory preparation – understand how the different senses apply when tasting
  • creating and understanding cacao evaluation profiles
  • recognising cacao post-harvest defects through tasting
  • understanding the science of tasting and how this can be used in cacao quality
  • review of common approaches to flavour profiling
  • training in use of the IICCT electronic evaluation system and paper equivalents
  • understanding how cacao flavour is translated into chocolate flavour
  • learn about chocolate production techniques at different scales, from micro-batch to large-scale industrial and how these influence flavour
  • examine technical criteria for evaluating cacao and their relation to flavour and cacao value
  • quality control of post-harvest development through evaluation
  • quality control of fine cacao for market development
  • marketing through flavour
  • working with small chocolate makers, adapting the supply chain
  • direct sourcing with farmers to market fine cacao to new markets
  • the course will be assessed with a multiple choice exam and a tasting assessment
Who should take this course?

The IICCT would also like to offer ongoing support to the attendees, to ensure that the knowledge gained is put to full use and applied in practice and that a lasting difference in quality can be made.

If you are interested please contact the institute directly for more information.

Ongoing development and support

The Institute believes that a lasting difference can be made for improved cacao quality through ongoing support and development combined with use of the Institute’s electronic evaluation system. One-off training approaches can be useful, but there is a danger that knowledge gained during the training is not applied over time, devaluing the initial investment. This can be compounded when different experts offer different opinions and methods at different times, which is a common issue in cacao countries.

The Institute offers a standard approach and protocol and we offer bespoke ongoing support packages tailored to the needs of each client. These can include use and support of our electronic evaluation system and guided preparation of reference tasting samples,

Please contact the institute directly for more information about our support options.