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The Cacao Masterclass: Zorzal 2023

May 1, 2024

Our first Cacao Masterclass took place in the Dominican Republic, graciously hosted by Zorzal Cacao.

A deep dive into cocoa growing, processing, and markets, along with basic quality evaluation, this 9 day residential journey was unlike any existing cocoa course. The immersive style of training took participants from the classroom to the field. Led by specialist instructors, participants were given hands on training, learning from the collective experience from individuals that totalled half a century of work within the cacao industry, spanning more than 35 countries.

The teaching style was collaborative, with experts in each field leading open discussions throughout their classes. Questions, comments and observations were welcome throughout the Masterclass, enabling the group to learn from expertise and gain insight from the high level of experience from the other participants.

About The Masterclass

This course is best for those already working in the area with knowledge of chocolate and cocoa practices and covers the principles of cocoa growing and processing all the way from farm to maker. 

The course is broken down into the following five areas: 

  • Overview of cacao’s botany, history and world production
  • Principles of forest conservation, cocoa plant management and processing 
  • Foundations of cocoa transport routes, trading logistics and certifications
  • Cocoa markets & contracts along with marketing and sales 
  • Introduction to cocoa bean quality evaluation

The Instructors

Sarah Bharath: Cacao botany expert and people-centered agroecologist with 24+ years of experience in cacao. | Bio

Kate Cavallin: General Manager at Cacao Latitudes | Bio 

Greg D’Alesandre: Chief Sourcing Officer at Dandelion Chocolate and Head of Sustainable Farm Investment at Wedgetail | Bio 

Dr. Kristy Leissle: Scholar of cocoa and chocolate, author of Cocoa

Dr. Charles Kerchner: Zorzal Founder and CEO

Omar Caraballo: Zorzal Office Director, expertise in warehouse logistics and traceability

Rafael Concepción: Zorzal Fermentation Technician

More Cocoa Masterclass dates and locations will be released in early 2024. Visit our Events pages for more courses.

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