• 6 weeks
  • 5 Sep - 17 Oct 2022
  • Webinar + home study, Online
  • €1050 (€882.35 + VAT *)

Combined Foundation and Intermediate level courses in Cacao Evaluation and Flavour Profiling.

* Business/professional price outside the EU. 19% VAT added for EU bookings and non-professional bookings outside the EU


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Course details

Online home study course with cacao tasting kit –

Take your understanding of fine chocolate and cacao a step further with our Combined Level 1 & 2 Certificate course in Cacao Evaluation and Flavour Profiling.

The Cacao Evaluation course applies the sensory approach we use in our Chocolate Tasting courses to give you an understanding of the flavor potential of fine cacao, cacao production, cacao varieties and common cacao defects.

In this online course we explore fine cacao through a series of webinars and tastings using the IICCT flavor profile system and your cacao tasting kit. The course will be taught in English over a five to six week period, with exams held in the following month. The exams will consist of a multiple choice element and a blind tasting assessment.

Your Combined Level 1 & 2 Home study and tasking kit will include:

  • sensory reference samples for aromas and tongue tastes relevant to cacao *
  • samples of over 30 different cacaos
  • samples processed with different preparation protocols
  • samples of cacao defects
  • examples of cacao processed through to chocolate
  • your mini cacao-sampling equipment kit
  • practice samples for your final blind tasting exam
  • evaluation forms and data sheets for your samples
  • a poster version of the IICCT flavor profile map

* you will also be asked to source some fresh samples yourself, for example local fresh fruits and condiments.

Your samples will help you study:

  • sensory preparation for tasting cacao
  • cut tests and quality evaluation
  • cacao flavour counts
  • cacao tongue tastes
  • roast comparisons of samples
  • common cacao defects
  • examples of cacao processing techniques

You will receive between 20g-50g of each sample in sealed sample bags. Sample size may vary according to the purpose and availability of each sample. All samples will be prepared using the Institute sampling protocols.

Free shipping to Europe (EU, Switzerland, Norway and UK)

Free shipping of your tasting kit is included within the EU, Switzerland, Norway and UK. Normally we would not expect customs issues for kits sent to Switzerland, Norway or the UK, but there may be additional customs charges payable, which you will need to cover. Please contact us for more details or any questions.

Shipping to USA and Canada

There will be a surplus charge of €80 Euros to receive the tasting kit in other world regions, which will also apply to the USA and Canada. Packages will be sent with a customs proforma invoice and phytosanitary certification, which should allow your tasting kit to arrive without any problems. We have not experienced the application of customs charges for kits sent to North America, but you will need to cover these if any arise.

Shipping to other World Regions

If you are planning to sign up for Cacao Evaluation online outside of Europe or North America, please contact us first to discuss the customs situation in your country. Every country has different rules, so we will need to check if sending the tasting kit to you will be possible. For example, some cacao growing countries will have restrictions on importing unprocessed cacao.

In some cases, we may be able to send the tasting kit but not all the reference aroma samples. This will depend on the customs rules in your country.

If you are registering for the course as a business or if you have an import license, this may make things easier.

There will be a surplus charge of €80 Euros to receive the tasting kit in world regions

Study format

The course will be taught with a combination of:

  • home tastings
  • live webinars
  • recorded lectures from our experts
  • group tasting reviews
  • self-study using evaluation forms, data sheets and online Institute training material

Webinars and group tastings will be repeated several times and scheduled to suit students in different world time zones. The sessions will also be recorded so you can catch up or review at your own pace if you can’t make the live sessions.

Please note that for practical reasons it is not possible to study Level 1 or Level 2 in Cacao Evaluation online as separate courses at this time.


The course will be examined with an online multiple choice exam and a blind tasting to test your evaluation learning. The exams will be moderated by our Institute assessors to our usual standards as an accredited FDQ Learning Centre. The course fee includes the cost of the exam registration. No reduction is offered in the event of not passing the course and retakes will be charged at €100, including samples.

Booking deadline

To ensure your place on the course, please book before August 22nd. For bookings placed after this date we can not guarantee that your tasting kit will reach you on time for the start of the course.

Level 1 & 2

About the course

The IICCT Certificate Course in Cacao Evaluation and Profiling is an advanced sensory training course suitable for anyone wishing to develop a deeper understanding of flavour in fine cacao and wishing to explore the role cacao flavour potential plays in developing the flavour of finished fine chocolate.

The Certificate Course is based on the concept that the quality of fine chocolate is measured by the enjoyment of its flavour and that cacao with the potential to make good chocolate will also have a pleasurable, complex or distinctive flavour.

The Cacao Evaluation course will help to develop the sensory skills needed to assess cacao quality through its flavour, the potential transformation of cacao flavour into finished chocolate and how cacao flavour relates to technical methods of evaluating cacao.

The course will be based around extensive tasting of example cacaos, including reference high quality cacao and cacao samples that represent common defects. The tasting methodology uses the Institute’s standard cacao sample protocols, including as unprocessed cacao and various finished stages of cacao-to-chocolate production.

The evaluations made during the course are made using the Institute’s electronic sensory evaluation method, which is based on an understanding of cacao flavour and quality that can be applied with any sample preparation protocol, including dried cacao, cacao liquor and sample or retail chocolate.

Our approach recognises that cacao is a crop grown to produce foods giving us hedonistic 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 create a comprehensive flavour profile and to generate a quality score.

The course will also include background sessions on the cacao trading market, the supply chain from farmer to bar, how to source and buy cacao and recommended sources, fermentation and post-harvest processing, cacao varieties and their historical distribution around the world and other useful background topics in short presentations as breaks between tasting.


Certificates will be awarded on a pass of a multiple choice exam for Level 1 and a pass in the Level 2 multiple choice exam and tasting assessments.

Entry requirements

There are no previous entry requirements for this course. An understanding of fine chocolate is recommended, which can be achieved through our Certificate in Chocolate Tastings courses.

Please note that there will be some repetition of Level 1&2 Chocolate Tasting material explaining the IICCT sensory approach and profiling system. For the online version of the course, Chocolate Tasting students may skip the relevant webinars, sections or lectures if they have previously covered this material.

What's included
  • Training the senses to appreciate cacao flavour
  • Sensory exploration, practice and the brain science of cacao tasting
  • What is fine cacao and how we define it
  • Tasting of example cacaos and sample protocols
  • Origins and varieties of cacao and their history
  • Cacao production, quality and flaws
  • How cacao is processed and how this affects flavour
  • Cacao sourcing and direct trading
  • Tasting practice and profiling with our online system
  • Understanding and tasting flaws and defects in cacao
  • Cacao farming, economics and trading
  • History of cacao growing and distribution around the world
  • Take away study guides
  • Certificate for exam passes
Who should take this course?

The course will help your development and flavour understanding for:

  • established chocolate makers
  • start-up chocolate makers
  • chocolate tasters
  • cacao trader or commercial grower
  • cooperative technicians
  • NGO staff members
  • anyone with an interest in cacao flavour and quality