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Costa Rican cocoa producers to participate in international cocoa contest of excellence

  • Following a national contest, the winners were selected from 21 cocoa samples. CATIE was part of the coordination of the contest called Cocoa of Excellence and promoted by Biodiversity International and CIAT.

February 17, 2021. After analyzing 21 samples of fine and aromatic cocoa from Costa Rica, the firms Finca Venecia, La Iguana Chocolate and Finca Integral Agroecológica la Milagrosa were the winners of the first Cocoa of Excelence contest held in Costa Rica, and through which these companies were selected to represent the country in one of the most important international contests in the cocoa industry.

Cocoa of Excellence is the entry point for producers to participate in the global competition, which aims to recognize the work of cocoa producers and celebrate quality, flavor diversity and unique origins. The first phase of the international competition will be held in Rome, Italy, and then those selected will move on to the International Cocoa Awards 2021 in Paris, France, the world's most prestigious cocoa event of excellence.

The international competition brings together experts in sensory evaluation, who analyze flavors, as well as the contribution of knowledge, cocoa evaluation tools, market opportunities and incentives to safeguard cocoa diversity in agriculture, communities and national organizations around the world.

At the national level, the contest was coordinated by the National Organizing Committee of the Cocoa of Excellence Program, formed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG, Its Spanish acronym), the Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX, Its Spanish acronym), the Foreign Trade Promotion Agency (PROCOMER, Its Spanish acronym), the Institute of Rural Development (INDER, Its Spanish acronym), CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), the National Center for Food Science and Technology (CITA, Its Spanish acronym) of the University of Costa Rica, EARTH University, the National University (UNA, Its Spanish acronym); in addition to private organizations such as the Costa Rica Passion Consortium, Cacao Consultancy International S. A. and the Costa Rican Institute of Cocoa and Chocolate (ICACAO, Its Spanish acronym). Chocolate Institute (ICACAO).                        

According to Renato Alvarado, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Costa Rica, the contest contributes to the marketing link of the National Cocoa Plan, which seeks to promote access and positioning of this Costa Rican product in markets differentiated by origin and quality, under the recognition of the country as an exporter of fine and aromatic cocoa.

Adriana Arciniegas, specialist of the CATIE cocoa team, who was involved in the coordination of the national contest and also organized and participated in the panel of tasting judges, commented that some of the genetics selected as winners of the contest have similar organoleptic profiles, where the acidity of fresh citrus fruit combined with red berries stand out, characteristics highly appreciated by chocolatiers, which, together with subtle floral notes, dark woods and sweetness that are also present, provide unique flavors and special aromas

At the same time, Arciniegas highlighted the particularity that the selected samples come from sustainable farms with organic management, some of them being superior genotypes promoted by CATIE.    

Pedro Beirute, general manager of PROCOMER, added that participating in the international contest will position Costa Rica among international markets. "As it is a quality cocoa with differentiating characteristics, it targets gourmet niches. That is why we must take full advantage of national recognition and the participation of these companies in this international contest, so that the name of Costa Rica also sounds like that of a producer and exporter of 100% fine and aromatic cocoa, where we do not compete by volume, but by added value," said Beirute.

The cocoa samples that participated in the contest, coming from producers from all over the country, underwent the following stages:

  • Reception
  • Coding and repacking to guarantee the transparency of the process.
  • Physical analysis of the beans
  • Transformation to liquor
  • Tasting
  • Tasting weighting and analysis
  • Selection of the three best samples at national level


The three winning companies will be paid the registration fee for the international competition, support with the process and logistical shipment of their samples, preparation of a technical report of the selection process, feedback from an International Technical Committee regarding their sample, among others.

If you are interested in watching the award ceremony of the national contest, please go to https://n9.cl/ig0yz


Source: MAG press release.


More information:

Adriana Arciniégas
Researcher Cocoa Team
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Written by:

Karla Salazar Leiva
Information Technology and Communication
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