The Cacao of Excellence Awards are a biennial competition that recognises the work of cacao farmers and celebrates the quality and flavour diversity of cacao produced around the world. Established in 2009, it aims to improve farmers’ livelihoods, and drive sustainability of the cocoa supply chain by increasing the market value of quality cacao and promoting education on the production of superior quality cacao with unique flavours resulting from genetic diversity and terroir.
Since the inception of the competition, Trinidad and Tobago has won fourteen Cacao of Excellence Awards including this year’s three winners; Shankar Teelucksingh of Granville, Doolarie Ramdath of Rio Claro, and Stephanie Omardeen of Brasso Seco.
Five winning samples from the 2023 National Cocoa Awards were submitted to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the Cacao of Excellence Awards, and following a selection and evaluation of over 200 samples, three samples from Trinidad were shortlisted, and eventually awarded silver medals.
Other silver medal winners from the Central American and Caribbean Region include Itzam Kakaw from Guatemala, and Hacienda Terruño JS from Puerto Rico. In total, sixteen entrants globally were awarded silver medals.
2023 Cacao of Excellence Awards from Central America and the Caribbean;
Costa Rica – Chocolatera del Volcán
El Salvador – Rafael Moisés Ochoa Pinto
Jamaica – Pure Chocolate Jamaica & Body Estate
Martinique – Valcaco – Jean Michel Marie
Guatemala – Itzam Kakaw / Cacao Verapaz S.A.
Puerto Rico – Hacienda Terruño JS
Trinidad and Tobago – Doolarie Ramdath
Trinidad and Tobago – Shankar Teelucksingh
Trinidad and Tobago – Stephanie Omardeen
El Salvador – Cristiani Burkard S.A. de C.V. – Finca Las Vegas
Guatemala – Kampura S.A.
Mexico – Juan Carlos Velázquez Bautista
Nicaragua – Sajonia Estate Coffee S.A
Puerto Rico -David Valentín
Key Figures for the 2023 Cacao of Excellence Awards
52 cacao-producing origins participated.
• 222 cacao bean samples received, and analysed for physical and sensory qualities.
• 218 cacao bean samples accepted and processed into mass for sensory evaluation.
• 50 exceptional samples selected and processed into tempered and moulded chocolate.
• 32 experts and professional chocolate makers blindly evaluated the Best 50 samples.
• 18 Gold, 16 Silver, and 16 Bronze Awards presented at the live Ceremony on 8th February 2024.
The 2023 Cacao of Excellence Awards are presented by Cacao of Excellence, a programme hosted by the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, an international research organisation that addresses the global crises of malnutrition, climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation. The Alliance is part of CGIAR, the world’s largest agricultural research and innovation partnership for a food-secure future, dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources.
The Awards were proudly hosted by Chocoa, the annual marketplace for cacao and chocolate for quality and sustainability. The 2023 Cacao of Excellence Awards were supported in partnership with the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), Guittard Chocolate, Seguine Cacao, Cocoa and Chocolate Advisors, the USDA project Maximising Opportunities for Cacao and Coffee in Latin America (MOCCA), Barry Callebaut, Cacao Barry, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Salon du Chocolat, Puratos-Belcolade, the Cocoa Research Centre of the University of the West Indies, Valrhona, Regis Bouet, Fairtrade International, TreeGether, NGSER, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina Peru, the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), CATIE, Tcho, Cocoatown, Herencia, LADY AGRI, Organizzazione internazionale italo-latino americana (IILA), OFI, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Chocolatier CAS, Cacao Crudo, Binder, fkv, Eurochocolate and the Umbria Chamber of Commerce.