Information on the flavour assessment/tasting and off-flavours of chocolate

Assessment of flavour can take place at the cocoa liquor stage or when made up fully into chocolate. Liquor tasting allows the tasting to be done without the addition of cocoa butter, sugar and milk products which dilute the taste impression. Tasting can be carried out by a panel of tasters. Samples are evaluated for strength of cocoa or chocolate flavour, residual acidity, bitterness and astringency, and off-flavours.


  • can arise from the presence of mould in the beans which gives a mouldy/musty flavour to the chocolate
  • can arise from contamination by wood smoke during drying or storage which gives a characteristic smoky off-flavour. This flavour is often reminiscent of smoke cured bacon
  • an acid taste can arise through excessive acidity developing during fermentation and it generally inhibits the chocolate flavour from developing
  • bitterness is part of the chocolate flavour but it becomes a problem if it is excessive. Bitterness and astringency are caused by poor fermentation or poor planting materials
  • cocoa beans can absorb flavours from other products such as rubber, oil based paints etc. during storage and transport

The International Confectionery Association (ICA), formerly the International Office of Cocoa, Chocolate and Sugar Confectionery (IOCCC), have a procedure for identifying flavour defects and off-flavours in cocoa liquor. It is a test that can be carried out by a panel of five to ten people and does not require any specialised training or equipment. The ICA can be contacted at: 1 rue Defacqz, B1000 Brussels, Belgium. Tel; +32 (2) 539 18 00 Fax: +32 (2) 539 15 75

Cocoa beans. Chocolate manufacturers quality requirements. Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Alliance (BCCCA), October 1996
The detection of specific off-flavours in cocoa beans. Analytical method. IOCCC, 1996.






ICCO Secretariat

Postal Address:
International Cocoa Organization
06 BP 1166 Abidjan 06
Côte d'Ivoire

Tel:  +225 22 51 49 50/51
Fax: +225 22 51 49 79
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ICCO Agreements

The ICCO International Cocoa Agreement is available to download in Acrobat PDF format.

Go to the ICCO Agreements page

ICCO Membership Procedure

The procedures for becoming a member of the International Cocoa Organization are provided in Articles 52 to 57 of the International Cocoa Agreement, 2010.

How to Become an ICCO Member - International Cocoa Agreement 2010

General Information

Further information on the ICCO, the cocoa market, statistics, meetings, or any other subject related to the world cocoa economy can be obtained by contacting the Information and Media Officer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.