• 6 days
  • Sun - Fri, 19 - 24 Nov 2023
  • 9:00am - 6:00pm
  • Tabasco, Mexico
  • $3450

Advanced level course in Chocolate Tasting.


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This course is no longer available. Please check our calendar for future dates.

Course details

Our fourth cacao country Level 3 Advanced level course in Chocolate Tasting in Latin America will take place for the first time in Tabasco, Mexico, a region rich in cacao and chocolate history and one of the major producers of cacao in Mexico. The course builds on the Level 1 Foundation and Level 2 Intermediary courses and develops a deeper understanding of chocolate tasting and profiling through advanced sensorial work, following the flavor journey from cacao farming through to chocolate making.

The Advanced course will help you develop an in-depth understanding of the influence of cacao production and chocolate making on the flavor of finished origin chocolate bars and will include field visits to cacao farms, a germplasm bank and chocolate factories. The course will also include the sensory exploration of local flavors with traditional cooks and chocolate makers who will teach students how to use the grinding stone metate to make artisanal chocolate and regional drinks like pozol. Visits to Olmec, Maya, and Zoque archaeological sites in cacao-growing areas of Tabasco will illustrate Tabasco’s complex and ancient pre-Colombian past and its link to the Mesoamerican history of cacao and chocolate that still finds a lively expression in the hands of Tabasco women today.

The course will take place starting on the last day of the Festival del Chocolate Tabasco in Villahermosa, a public chocolate and cacao show that will also include the awards ceremony for the International Chocolate Awards Mexican chocolate and cacao competitions. Level 3 students can optionally arrive early to Villahermosa and visit the festival, which takes place from the 15th to the 19th of November 2023.

The course will be taught in English and Spanish with separate language groups led by Institute founding partners Martin Christy and Dr. Maricel E. Presilla in groups and collective joint sessions.

The course includes accommodation, lunches, two festive group meals in Comalcalco and Villahermosa, and all food and transport during the field trips through the region.

Flights or transport to Villahermosa and transfer from the airport to the Villahermosa hotel are not included.

Local bookings from Mexican students should first contact us at courses@chocolatetastinginstitute.org or Maricel at grancacao@aol.com for more details and a link to use for internal bookings.


  • 18 November – arrive to Villahermosa
  • 19 November – attend Festival del Chocolate Tabasco in Villahermosa and visit La Venta (Olmec) Park Museum with local archaeologist
  • 20 November – classroom sessions, Villahermosa
  • 21 – 23 November – visits to farmers, projects, coops, germplasm bank, artisanal chocolate makers, and archaeological sites
  • 24 November – classroom session, practical learning, exams and assessment
  • 25 November – depart from Villahermosa

Other activities

General description of Level 3 Activities

Teaching Level 3 in Tabasco by combining time in the classroom with travel through the state’s lands of cacao, gives us the special opportunity to bring our 21st-century approach to sensory evaluation to a region with an extraordinarily old and rich history that spans millennia. We will stand on the oldest stepped pyramid of Mesoamerica at the Olmec city of La Venta and talk about cacao and chocolate among the Olmecs, the mother civilization of Mesoamerica, since at least 1800 and 1000 BC; uses that remained constants among succeeding ancient civilizations like the Zoque and the Maya, whose material culture we will get to explore during visits to archaeological sites of Malpasito (close to the border with Chiapas) and Comalcalco.

In Comalcalco, a colonial town, not far from Villahermosa, we will experience two sides of the chocolate story in Tabasco. We will spend time learning from women artisans who keep alive the old ways of processing cacao in a metate to create artisanal chocolate and ancient chocolate drinks enriched with nixtamalized corn like the foamy pozol, and we will visit modern factories producing award-winning chocolates. These factories are in charming colonial haciendas that remain intimately connected to the land as producers of fine cacao. There we will be able to witness tree to bar operations unfolding and have time for sensory practices with cacao beans and cacao liquors processed by different protocols as well as taste finished chocolates. These haciendas are also mirrors to the colonial history of cacao and chocolate in Tabasco as they count with fascinating museums filled artifacts that range from ancient metates to old winnowers, sorters, and massive melangeurs imported from Europe.

As for us, sensory training means much more than smelling and eating cacao and chocolate, we will spend time broadening our sensory vocabulary by tasting local ingredients and cooking together. We are planning a special Thanksgiving Day celebration at a remarkable Chontal restaurant by the monumental brick Maya city of Joy Chan in Comalcalco where will watch one of the best female chefs of Mexico create regional wonders cooking only in clay pots and comales set over wood fires.

Days of adventure will take us from the calm order of a germplasm bank to hiking up through steeped thickly forested hills overlooking Zoque ruins to look for the elusive white-beaned cacao (almendra blanca). By both experiencing what is left of Tabasco’s ancient and colonial past in archaeological remains and the work of artisanal chocolate makers, and getting to know those who are also looking forward to the future, Level 3 will add richness to our understanding to the art of tasting and analyzing fine cacao.

We start purposefully visiting the great Festival del Chocolate Tabasco in Villahermosa on its last day. This is a not-to-be-missed joyful celebration of a state where cacao and chocolate are not just commercial commodities, but the very fibers of a society that has managed to weave a trich tapestry out of the past, present, and future.

Level 3

About the course

The Level 3 Advanced level course in Chocolate Tasting builds on the Level 1 Foundation and Level 2 Intermediary courses and develops a deeper understanding of chocolate tasting and profiling through advanced sensorial work, following the flavour journey from cacao farming through to chocolate making.

The Advanced course will help you develop an in-depth understanding of the influence of cacao production and chocolate making on the flavour of finished origin chocolate bars, and will include field visits to either cacao farms or chocolate factories and where possible, to both.

The course includes five days of training and tasting, with additional travel time for field trips where required.

Entry requirements

Pass in Level 1 and 2 Certificates in Chocolate Tasting.

If you do not yet hold Level 1 and 2 Certificates, you may take Level 1 and 2 as a block in our Combined Level 1 & 2 4-day course, or as individual courses.

What's included
  • Classroom study and tastings
  • Advanced sensorial study, tasting and profiling
  • Relating cacao tasting and chocolate flavours
  • Cacao production techniques and their effect on flavour
  • Cacao varieties, recovery projects, latest research
  • Chocolate production styles, recipes and effect on flavour
  • Cacao history and development
  • The cacao trade and commodity market
  • Chocolate market, branding and origin story
  • Visit to at least one chocolate factory
  • Practical sessions working with chocolate
  • Field trips to cacao region for courses held in cacao countries
  • Group projects
  • Networking events and dinners
Who should take this course?

Level 2 students wishing to develop their understanding of chocolate taste to a new and cutting edge level and to obtain an advanced grounding in the world of fine chocolate and cacao.