cocoa of excellence 2021


The Cocoa of Excellence awards are an opportunity to gain insights into what contributes to the great chocolate we enjoy. I love the spotlight on the farmers from all over the world, the sounds of the farm in the background as each explains what it means to them to participate. I appreciate the amount of care the organisers put in to making the event come to life, and it must be a lot of work!

The event is focused on producers first, and offers an opportunity for farmers to get some valuable exposure to reward their effort in making amazing Cocoa we ultimately can enjoy.

The event this year took in 235 samples from over 53 origins which are anonymised after they are received so that none of the judges know what chocolate they are tasting. We have a pure cacao meritocracy, and once the origins are taken off the table, a conversation can develop, unhindered by how a person thinks they ‘should feel’ about a particular chocolate.

China’s Award

A few years ago, I don’t think many of us would have predicted China would be present at this award ceremony, let alone walking away with a gold. But they did. The winning company with the slightly prosaic name of ‘Tropical Crops Engineering Company Ltd’, produced a chocolate that was introduced by Stephen Opoko, a Research Scientist of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana.

Opoko described it as unique and gave it a score of 8.5 (out of 10) with flavour notes of fresh fruits such as berry and pineapple with sweet caramel notes that clearly distinguished it from others along with some mild spice

Fresh fruits such as berry and pineapple with sweet caramel notes that clearly distinguished it from others

Stephen Opoku describing Cocoa from Hainan, China

An Inspiring Technical Committee

Some will hate on me for highlighting, in a positive light, a big chocolate company, but let’s put the politics away for a minute and listen to Barry Callebaut’s Valentine Detalle describe her chocolate pick from Davao. Watch her talk at around 1 hour and 54 minutes into the event. Her description of the flavours she finds from a Philippine Cocoa, of the Davao region projects an image that is visceral, mouth-watering and conveys sincere passion.

I took away something from all the judges, and while it’s a little depressing to realise my taste buds are neanderthal by comparison, it was inspiring to me to hear them. Julien Simonis says it a little more poetically.

One of the most important things and which I like the most is to discover so much flavour diversity in each cocoa sample. There’s not one which is the same to another. And it takes training to be able to recognize that all. But in the end you have the impression to travel the world,

Julien Simonis, Cocoa of Excellence Technical Committee member

It was a shame that Mr Aidoo, the CEO of COCOBOD, didn’t deliver his speech personally, but delegated it to the Deputy CEO, Dr Emmanuel Opoku, who nevertheless spoke competently to promote the country’s position and how the awards have influenced some decision making within the country.

I encourage you to visit the Cocoa of Excellence website for much more information about the event, and to watch it below, there are long breaks at some point you’ll want to skip, but perhaps the organisers will make an edited version that cuts those out.


The Award List

Africa and the Indian Ocean

2021 Gold

  • Madagascar – Coopérative TMAR du groupe UCLS, Ambodimanga Ramena, Ambodimanga, Ambanja, Diana, Commercial Sample No. CNCMDG02 – CoEx Sample Code: 873/21
  • Togo – Kokou Toulassi, Efoupkani, Wawa, Plateaux, Commercial Sample No. N° 0005-2021-UTCC-TG – CoEx Sample Code: 744/21
  • Togo – Yawo Semanu Dzitri, Gadzawukpe, Agou, Gadza, Plateaux Ouest, Commercial Sample No. N° 0001-2021-UTCC-TG – CoEx Sample Code: 328/21

2021 Silver

  • Cote d’Ivoire – Koffi Kré Dongo, Tankessé, Tanda, Gontougo, Commercial Sample No. E8TAN – CoEx Sample Code: 907/21
  • Ghana – Seth Opoku Yirenkyi, Tetekasum Amanfrom, Suhum, Eastern, Commercial Sample No. GH01 – CoEx Sample Code: 137/21
  • Tanzania – Kokoa Kamili Ltd  – Contributing farmers: Mbingu Sisters (convent), Anna Muyesi, Sarah Maglass, Chiwachiwa Village, Mbingu Ward, Mlimba District, Morogoro Region, Commercial Sample No. ML2020-182 Women’s Lot – CoEx Sample Code: 150/21

2021 Bronze

  • Cameroon – Martin Kamdjeu, Coopérative COOP CA EXPLADI, Didipe, Nkondjock, Nkam, Littoral, Commercial Sample No. CMR-05 – CoEx Sample Code: 596/21
  • Ghana – Charles Oppong, Amanfrom, Suhum, Eastern, Commercial Sample No. GH03 – CoEx Sample Code: 199/21
  • Ghana – Offinso Fine Flavour Cooperative, Offinso, Offinso South Municipal, Ashanti, Commercial Sample No. GH09 – CoEx Sample Code: 464/21
  • Madagascar – Aly Robert, Diego Hely, Antsatsaka, Ambanja, Diana, Commercial Sample No. CNCMDG04 – CoEx Sample Code: 379/21
  • Madagascar – Centre de recherche FOFIFA Ambanja, FOFIFA Ankatafahely, Ambanja, Diana, Experimental Sample No. CNCMDG06 – CoEx Sample Code: 461/21
  • Togo – Kodjo Etsonu, Dedomé-Ferme, Amlamé, Amou, Plateaux, Commercial Sample No. N° 0003-2021-UTCC-TG – CoEx Sample Code: 125/21
  • Uganda – Gideon Katuramu Sibugyo, Bundibugyo, Bundibugyo District, Buganikire, Experimental Sample No. UGA-002 – CoEx Sample Code: 527/21

Asia and the Pacific

2021 Gold

  • China – Zhong Chu – Hainan Xingke Tropical Crops Engineering Technology Co. LTD, Dalu Town, Qionghai, Hainan, Experimental Sample No. ZYP-6-8 – CoEx Sample Code: 315/21
  • Hawaii – Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate, Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina, Ahupuaa Kuia, West Maui, Commercial Sample No. MKE-1819 – CoEx Sample Code: 618/21
  • Indonesia – PT Perkebunan Nusantara XII, Jl. Rajawali No 44, Surabaya, Krembangan, Surabaya, East Java, Commercial Sample No. IND07 – CoEx Sample Code: 876/21
  • Malaysia – Poimon Dangkat, Kampung Goshen P/S 195, Kota Marudu, Sabah, Commercial Sample No. COEX21-013 – CoEx Sample Code: 515/21
  • Papua New Guinea, Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) – Autonomous Bougainville Government – Department of Primary Industries (ABG – DPI) – Kubu Research Station, DPI/ACIAR Project, C/O-ABG-DPI, P.O Box 322, Buka Town, North Bougainville, Experimental Sample No. Sample C – CoEx Sample Code: 211/21
  • Philippines – Arthur Lagoc, Talandang,Tugbok District, Davao City, Talandang, Davao Region, Commercial Sample No. P013 – CoEx Sample Code: 371/21
  • Philippines – Christopher Fadriga, Brgy. Atipuluan, Bago City, Negros Occidental, Region VI, Experimental Sample No. P027 – CoEx Sample Code: 386/21
  • Taiwan – Rui-Min Su, No. 8, Guangming St., Wandan Township, Pingtung , Commercial Sample No. TWCC-02 – CoEx Sample Code: 331/21

2021 Silver

  • Hawaii – Will Lydgate, Lydgate Farms, 5730 Olohena, Kapa’A, Hawaii, Commercial Sample No. 51220 – CoEx Sample Code: 736/21
  • Philippines – Chokolate de San Isidro, Inc., Carlos Barsicula, Chokolate de San Isidro, Inc., Purok Cacao C., Barangay Sawata, San Isidro, Davao del Norte, Davao Region, Commercial Sample No. P032 – CoEx Sample Code: 649/21

2021 Bronze

  • Australia – Darryl Kirk, 78 Mountainview Drive, Shannonvale, Mossman, Far North Queensland, Commercial Sample No. ACF2021 – CoEx Sample Code: 843/21
  • Malaysia – Sik Kim Soon, No. 132 Jalan Besar, 18400 Temangan, Machang, Kelantan, Commercial Sample No. COEX21-011 – CoEx Sample Code: 624/21
  • Papua New Guinea – Jeffery Banaga, Kopure Village, Oro Bay, Popondeta, Ljivitari District, Momase Region, Commercial Sample No. PNG-04 – CoEx Sample Code: 644/21

Central America and the Caribbean

2021 Gold

  • Guatemala – María Elena Valenzuela Schellenberg, Finca La Cruz, Km 167 Carretera Ca2, Cuyotenango, Suchitepequez, Sur Occidente, Commercial Sample No. GT001 – CoEx Sample Code: 493/21
  • Mexico – José María Pascacio Muñoz, Carretera Cacahoatán-Carrillo Puerto, Km 1.5, Barrio Benito Juarez – La Rioja, Cacahoatán, Soconusco, Commercial Sample No. 916 – CoEx Sample Code: 642/21

2021 Silver

  • Dominican Republic – Cafin SAS, 43000 Prov. Sánchez Ramírez, Batero, La Cueva, Commercial Sample No. Magdalena COE 2021 – CoEx Sample Code: 733/21
  • Dominican Republic – Specialty Cocoa Nuñez – COOPCANOR, San Francisco de Macoris, Provincia Duarte, Cibao, Commercial Sample No. COOPCANOR – CoEx Sample Code: 477/21
  • El Salvador – Asociación Cooperativa de Producción Agropecuaria “Barra Ciega de R.L”, Caserio Barra Ciega, Canton Tonala, Sonsonate, Occidental, Commercial Sample No. IIICOEX027 – CoEx Sample Code: 239/21
  • Puerto Rico – José Martínez-Cruzado, PR-119, Km 64.7, Bo. Montoso, Montoso, Maricao, Commercial Sample No. 6 – CoEx Sample Code: 212/21
  • Puerto Rico – Yadira Vázquez, Carr 984 Km 3.4, Naranjo, Fajardo, Commercial Sample No. 7 – CoEx Sample Code: 559/21
  • Trinidad and Tobago – Annette Mills, John Trace, Heights of Aripo, Arima, Aripo, St. George East , Commercial Sample No. 1220201006 – CoEx Sample Code: 182/21
  • Trinidad and Tobago – Winthrop Harewood, Watts Trace, Princes Town, Tableland, Victoria, Commercial Sample No. 1120201701 – CoEx Sample Code: 353/21

2021 Bronze

  • Nicaragua – Cooperativa Flor de Dalia, Comunidad La Tronca, La Dalia Matagalpa, Commercial Sample No. eL4fCU – CoEx Sample Code: 298/21
  • Panama – Communidad de Los Caucheros, Forest Finance Panama S.A., Los Caucheros, Antes del Centro de Salud, Los Caucheros, Bocas del Toro, Commercial Sample No. Muestra 2 – CoEx Sample Code: 284/21
  • Panama – Comunidad de Nuevo Paraiso, Forest Finance Panama S.A., Almirante, Comunidad de Nuevo Paraiso, Quebradas Limon, Nuevo Paraiso, Bocas del Toro, Commercial Sample No. Muestra 1 – CoEx Sample Code: 432/21
  • Panama – Meivis Ortiz y productoras asociadas, Ojo de Agua, Almirante, Bocas del Toro, Commercial Sample No. CEL 1220-02 – CoEx Sample Code: 954/21
  • Trinidad and Tobago – Farmers from Four Roads Tamana Cocoa Association, Four Roads, Tamana , Sangre Grande, Tamana, St. George East, Commercial Sample No. 1120200411 – CoEx Sample Code: 608/21

South America

2021 Gold

  • Bolivia – Barbarita Ayala Chao, Comunidad San Juan del Urucú, Beni, Municipio de Riberalta – Beni, Commercial Sample No. M01-A88-BO-BE-RB-BACH – CoEx Sample Code: 719/21
  • Brazil – João Dias Tavares Bisneto, BR 101, Uruçuca, Bahia, Northeast, Commercial Sample No. 1785 – CoEx Sample Code: 958/21
  • Peru – Cooperativa Agraria ACOPAGRO Ltda., C.P. La Libertad, San Rafael, Provincia de Bellavista, San Martin, Commercial Sample No. 008-CNCC – CoEx Sample Code: 985/21

2021 Silver

  • Bolivia – ARCASY (Asociacion de Recolectores de Cacao Silvestre Yuracare) – Comunidad Santa Anita, Santa Anita, Yuracaré, D8/Cochabamba, TCO – Yuracaré, Commercial Sample No. M04-B85-BO-CBBA-TCO-Y-SA – CoEx Sample Code: 451/21
  • Brazil – Angélica Maria Tavares Lima Fernandes, Pov. Banco do Pedro, Ilhéus, Bahia, Northeast, Commercial Sample No. 1784 – CoEx Sample Code: 798/21
  • Brazil – João Evangelista Lima, Vicinal Tc 02 – Km 27 Região Tuerê, Novo Repartimento, Pará, North, Commercial Sample No. 1816 – CoEx Sample Code: 304/21
  • Ecuador – Hacienda San José – Jorge Cecilio Marún Ramirez, Via Febres Cordero Km 9.5, Babahoyo, Mata de Cacao, Costa, Commercial Sample No. CEEC 217 – CoEx Sample Code: 557/21
  • Peru – Cooperativa Agraria Norandino – APPAGROP Quemazón, CPM La Quemazon S/N, San Juan de Bigote – Morropon, Piura, Commercial Sample No. 001-CNCC – CoEx Sample Code: 871/21

2021 Bronze

  • Colombia – Alex Antonio Ayala Aleman, Vereda Bijagual, Valencia, Córdoba, Commercial Sample No. FEDE006 – CoEx Sample Code: 347/21
  • Peru – Efrain Puma Chambi, Agro industrias puma real s.r.l, Jiron Confraternidad U7, Koribeni, La Convencion Echarate, Cusco, Commercial Sample No. 007-CNCC – CoEx Sample Code: 482/21

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