Cocoa Masterclass

In-Depth Training for the Cocoa Professional

April 6-14, 2024

Book your spot


Intended for the chocolate maker and professional, the Cocoa Masterclass is a deep dive into cocoa growing, processing, and markets, along with basic quality evaluation. Unlike any other existing cocoa course, we offer a nine-day immersive experience with classroom and hands-on training. The Cocoa Masterclass is a joint effort of Zorzal Cacao and Cacao Latitudes, and participants will be led by instructors totaling almost a century of experience in the cocoa industry spanning more than 35 countries.

What to expect

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


Market Perspectives:

Dr. Kristy Leissle, Cocoa Masterclass Curriculum Director

Kate Cavallin, Cocoa Masterclass Founder

Justine Chesnoy, Founder and Commercial Director of Cacao Latitudes

Greg D’Alesandre, Founder of cocoa and chocolate consultancy Sourcerer Solutions

Seed Perspectives:

Sarah Bharath: Cacao botany expert and people-centered agroecologist with 25+ years of experience

Sustainability and Conservation:

Dr. Charles Kerchner, Founder and Managing Director of Zorzal Cacao


$5,600 early bird registration by February 1

$6,000 regular registration after February 1

To register and reserve your spot, please make a non-refundable deposit below.*

The course cost includes in-country expenses during the program: airport transfers,** local transportation, accommodations for a private room,** meals, and program activities. The Cocoa Masterclass will take place in the Dominican Republic at and near Zorzal Cacao’s processing center in San Francisco de Macorís, the Zorzal Reserve, and by the beach in Cabarete the last two nights.

* We will not refund deposits for prospective participants who cancel within 30 days of the start of the Cocoa Masterclass (CM). The CM organizing team reserves the right to cancel the course no less than 30 days before the start of the CM. The CM organizing team will refund the deposit at 100% in the latter case.

The difference between the deposit and program fees is due by March 23.

**We will cover airport transfers for the following times and locations. If you arrive/depart outside of these times or airports, you will be responsible for the associated costs.

  • April 6 10:00-15:00 from STI Santiago or 9:00-14:00 from SDQ Santo Domingo
  • April 14 8:00-14:00 to SDQ Santo Domingo, STI Santiago, or POP Puerto Plata

**We will stay one night at the Zorzal Reserve, where some rooms are shared.

Email us if you are from an origin country and would like to participate.


Botany, plant management and conservation

Explore the scientific foundations that make cacao a miraculous plant, gain hands-on experience in farm management, and understand cacao and conservation in action.

Post-harvest processing, sensory and quality

Spend multiple days on the journey of fermentation. See and taste how quality develops and at the same time is preserved by good practices.

Cocoa markets and logistics

Learn about current day markets and logistics that move this amazing product around the globe!

History and world production

Learn what every chocolate professional should know about the history of cocoa and its global production.

Course Breakdown

Schedule is subject to change.

Day 1
Arrival in San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic

Day 2 – History, World Production and Post-Harvest Processing I

An intro to Zorzal, the history of cacao and where the fermentation and drying magic happens.

Day 3 – Botany, Plant Management and Conservation
Travel to Reserva Zorzal, meet the trees and understand what cacao conversation means in theory and practice.

Day 4 – Sensory & Post Harvest Processing II
Dive back into fermentation and drying to understand how it impacts the bean flavor. Learn the basics in sensory evaluation.

Day 5 – Quality and Certification
Visit a nursery and understand where quality comes from. Learn the differences and complexities in certifications like Organic, Fairtrade, and Bird Friendly.

Day 6 – Transport, Logistics, Contracts and Markets
Visit a local intermediary and exporter, understand what transport and logistics looks like from farm to fermentorium, and how contracts and markets affect the cocoa and its farmers.

Day 7 – Markets and Semi-Finished Products

Continue to uncover the complexities of the cocoa market by visiting a factory and understanding the importance of beans and the products produced.

Day 8 – Markets and Sales

Tie together the week’s learning to cocoa markets and sales.

Day 9 – Departure from Cabarete

After two days of learning by the beach, have breakfast together and say goodbye to your new friends in the cocoa world.

Book your spot

To reserve your spot, please make a non-refundable deposit below. All payments are secured with Stripe.

Questions? Email us at