CoEx Programme Technical Committee

The Cocoa of Excellence Programme establishes a Technical Committee (TC) responsible for the evaluation of all cocoa bean samples received for each Edition. For the 2019 Edition, 223 samples from 55 countries were received by Bioversity and given a 3-digit blind code.  Then the TC Chair, Ed Seguine, receives all samples and carries out a detailed assessment of the physical qualities and selects the best roasting protocols to process the samples into liquor.  The TC members carry out the quantitative blind sensory evaluation of all samples from March to July.  Based on a rigorous statistical analysis, the best 50 samples are selected and processed into a dark chocolate for sensory evaluation by a broad panel of about 45 professionals around the world, including the TC members. From the analysis of this evaluation, the International Cocoa Awards (ICA) are selected.  The best 50 and the ICAs are celebrated at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris at the end of October.  The TC members also advises on all technical processes including quality evaluation standards and selection of the expert panel for the evaluation of the best 50 samples.  They contribute to the development of the international standards on the assessment of cocoa quality and flavour.

Meet the members of the CoEx Technical Committee:

Phone: +1 717 688 1671  E-mail:

Phone: +1 717 688 1671


Ed Seguine has created craft chocolate from bean-to-bar for over a third century.   His passion for the diversity and purity of flavor in chocolate has led him to chair the ICCO Fine and Flavour Panel, Chairs the Cocoa of Excellence Technical Committee, and Chairs the Fine Chocolate Industry Association-Heirloom Cocoa Preservation Sensory Committee. His lab processes and evaluates cocoa beans providing liquor and chocolate evaluations. While we work to develop sustainable supply chains we must not lose sight of the reason that cocoa exists—to provide flavor that delights and creates memories. We experience chocolate from some of the finest, craftsmanship produced cocoa that the world has to offer—and celebrate the craft of the men and women producers who provide this Food of the Gods.  Ed is one of the creators of the Cocoa of Excellence Programme in 2008 and is the chair of the Technical Committee since 2009.

Phone: +1 (868) 662 8788 E-mail:

Phone: +1 (868) 662 8788


Darin Sukha joined the Cocoa Research Centre of the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago in 1995 and leads the Food Technology Section with focus on research, training and outreach, quality management, product development and technology toolkits for cocoa in micro and varietal based fermentation, traceability and quality standards and quality certification, niche marketing and geographical indications, and the development of cocoa based products (food and nutraceutical). He engages in local, regional, and international training and outreach on cocoa post-harvest, quality management, sensory evaluation, chocolate-making and standards development. He worked with a broad range of cocoa stakeholders, from farmers to chocolate manufacturers, in cocoa-producing regions on internationally projects and consultancies. He serves on the following expert panels: International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) Panel of experts on fine or flavor cocoa, Working group on the development of international standards for the assessment of cocoa quality and flavour, Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) - Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund, ICCO Expert working group on fine or flavour cocoa, Food Advisory Sub-Committee on the CARIFORUM standards for cocoa and chocolate products and is chair of the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards specification committee for cocoa quality.  Darin was part of the team creating the Programme and joined the CoEx Technical Committee in 2009.


Fabien obtained a Master's degree in Food Science and Technology in 2002 from the École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie et de Physique de Bordeaux (ENSCPB) in Bordeaux. He worked for Chocolat Weiss as a production manager before joining Nestlé's Research and Development Centre in York, U.K., in 2007, where he has been in charge of projects related to cocoa and chocolate processes and products. He joined Nestlé's Chocolate Centre of Excellence in Broc, Switzerland in 2012, as a cocoa expert where he contributed to the group's sustainability program, the Nestlé Cocoa Plan. In 2019, Fabien joined Cocoasource, a cocoa trading company, as Chief of Sustainability. He joined the CoEx Technical Committee in 2016.

Phone: +33 (0)475 079 090  E-mail:

Phone: +33 (0)475 079 090



Florent Coste joined Valrhona in 2003 and gradually moved into production and laboratory management.  Today he is responsible of the validation and selection of all cacao bean lots related to the needs and requirements of the clients.  Sensory evaluation has been the principal tool for the selection of the beans for production, prospection and research, marketing and product innovation. He joined the CoEx Technical Committee in 2015.


Nubia Martinez Guerrero is an agronomist engineer with an MSc in Agricultural Sciences from the National University of Colombia. In Colombia, Nubia worked as researcher at FEDECACAO developing projects to obtain new cocoa genotypes, to improve the agronomic managing techniques of cocoa plantations and to establish a system to assess quality of cocoa. Currently she is pursuing a PhD in Food Science in the Peruvian National Agrarian University La Molina in Lima and is a guest professor in the same university involved in research and training in sensory assessment of cocoa and derivatives. She is member of the Technical Committee of Cacao Standards in INACAL.  She has also worked as a consultant in topics related with research in genetic improvement, quality and sensory assessment in some countries of Latin America. She joined the CoEx Technical Committee in 2018.


John began his career at Guittard Chocolate in 2014 as Director of Sustainability after 25 years in the cocoa and international trade and development business. In 1991, he co- founded and operated a leading Venezuelan cocoa exporting business with clients in the US, Japan and Europe.  In 1999, John joined ED&F Man Cocoa to restructure a cocoa exporting operation in the Dominican Republic.  In 2002 John founded EcoTrade a pioneering U.S. specialty cocoa brokerage and consultancy. In 2008, John joined premium chocolate start-up TCHO in San Francisco.  He serves on the boards of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA), the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund and is an active member of the Working Group on International Standards for the Assessment of Cocoa Quality and Flavour.  He joined the CoEx Technical Committee in 2017.

Phone: +33 (0) 6 95 14 33 96 E-mail:

Phone: +33 (0) 6 95 14 33 96


With his 30 years’ experience as a chocolatier, Régis Bouet puts his experiences, knowledge and resources to the service of professionals. Active in the different community actions, Régis Bouet Solutions (RBS) has a rich international network of professionals in chocolate and pastry making. Demonstration, business auditing (production, purchase and traditional techniques), sales team coordination are all part of his skill sets. He also offers labs and professional kitchens allowing the creating of recipes and realization of trials for his clients.  He has been: creator, manager of chocolate and confectionery” shop, pastry chef, international demonstrator for several industry sectors, Research and Development Director of the French chocolate maker Weiss and finalist of the “Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) Chocolatier confiseur”.  In 1995-1997, he was vice-President of the association “Chocolatiers de France” and 2013-2014, member of the French committee for the European Certification and Normalization for sustainable and traceable cocoa. In daily contact with the whole cacao value chain, he produces chocolate and confectionery chocolate products and can intervene on artisan production as well as the full industrial line.  He joined the CoEx Technical Committee in 2013.

*Photo from A. Prien Saxbol*