Cocoa Masterclass

In-Depth Training for the Cocoa Professional

April 15-23, 2023

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. This 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


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


The course costs $5,500 and includes in-country expenses during the program: airport transfers, local transport, accommodations for a private room,* meals, and program activities. The Cocoa Masterclass will take place at and near Zorzal Cacao’s fermentorium in San Francisco de Macorís, the Zorzal Reserve, and by the beach in Cabarete for the last two nights.

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

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

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

Make a non-refundable deposit of $2,500 to reserve your spot. All payments are secured with Stripe.

Questions? Contact