• 3 days (exams 7 Feb)
  • Mon - Wed, 3 - 5 Feb 2025
  • 9:30am - 6:30pm
  • Chocoa, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • €1395

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


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Course details

We’re excited to partner again with Chocoa to bring our popular Cacao Evaluation course to the most engaging and comprehensive craft chocolate event on the European calendar, Chocoa 2025.

Combined package price – Chocolate Makers Forum + Trade Fair + Warehouse visit

The course will be part of Amsterdam Cocoa & Chocolate Week and students will have the chance to attend the whole week of events with our special inclusive package price, including entry to the famed Chocoa Chocolate Maker Forum, attendance at the Trade Fair during the Forum and a visit to Amsterdam’s cocoa warehouses as part of the course sessions.

Cacao Evaluation follows the flavour of cacao through its genetics and post-harvest and explores how the quality and flavour of unprocessed cacao can be interpreted into different evaluation protocols and finished chocolate. We take the understanding of cacao one step further on from ‘quality’ and into the realm of cacao flavour. The course is a perfect fit with the Chocoa ethos of exploring the full chocolate market and supply chain and different market segments and models. On the course, we apply 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.

The sessions will run from Monday 3 – Wednesday 5 February in Beurs van Berlage in a specially condensed and intensive schedule, with the exams held on the morning of 7 February. This will give attendees a chance to attend the Chocolate Makers Forum on 6 February and the Trade Fair, creating a total cacao and chocolate experience ideal for cacao producers, traders, chocolate makers, tasters and anyone else serious about exploring the flavour world of fine cacao.

The course will be taught in English.

Lunch is not provided, but is available at the Chocolate Makers’ Forum on the days that is running.

The exams will be taken in English (please note that translation tools are not allowed during the exam.) No reduction is offered in the event of not passing the course and retakes will be charged at €100 and may also be taken online (plus surcharge for exam samples kit).

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