What is Cocoa of Excellence


Cocoa of Excellence, which supplies the entries to the International Cocoa Awards, aims to link cocoa growers with chocolate makers and in the process:

  • raise awareness along the supply chain on opportunities for market differentiation;
  • provide global recognition to ‘terroirs’ and producers and of high quality cocoa; 
  • expose chocolate manufacturers and experienced consumers to the spectrum of flavours that exist in cocoa from different origins;
  • facilitate linkages between producers of quality cocoa and manufacturers of specialty chocolate products; and
  • stimulate the capacity of producing countries to search for, evaluate and produce specialty cocoa.


Selection process of samples that participate in the Cocoa of Excellence/International Cocoa Awards (ICA’s) celebrations


Cocoa producers in four major cocoa producing regions identified for CoE/ICA purposes (see country focal points) are invited to send good quality fermented and dried bean samples representing the genetic and geographic origins of their region. Only well-fermented beans with no evident off-flavours or other defects are selected for further evaluation. Only well fermented beans with no evident off flavours and other defects are considered for further evaluation.

The beans are used to prepare cocoa liquor samples. These are characterized for their flavor traits and evaluated for overall preference by 3-4 international CoE cocoa liquor experts. Based on the average scores for global preference given by the experts, 50 superior samples are nominated for the annual ICA awards attributed at the Salon du Chocolat.

The remaining beans of the 50 selected liquor samples are used to produce chocolates and evaluated by an international professional panel made up by 20 chocolate and confectionary manufacturers and other sensory specialists.

The methods used for liquor and chocolate preparations and evaluations have been standardized by the CoE Sensorial Technical Committee (Protocols for COE liquor and ICA chocolate preparations and evaluations).

Based on the the average scores for preference given by the members of the professional ICA jury, three ICA prize-winning samples are identified for each of the four cocoa producing regions and attributed during a special event at the yearly Salon du Chocolat in Paris. One additional prize per region is attributed by an amateur/public jury (such as members of chocolate clubs, specialized journalists and oenologists) that meets during the Salon du Chocolat.

At the end of each CoE/ICA Edition, all the sample suppliers receive a detailed evaluation of their sample based on the average scores for flavor attributes and global preference of the cocoa liquors given by the International CoE Expert team, to provide feedback and some indication on what can be done to further improve the quality of the cocoa beans in case the sample was not nominated for the ICA awards. 


Results - 2011 Edition


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