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  • February 17, 2021 10:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As the demand for quality chocolate increases and interest in chocolate-making grows, milk chocolate has been all but left behind. Too many people consider milk chocolate an inferior product, unworthy of consideration.  Nothing could be no further from the truth. In fact, the variety of options and creative possibilities milk chocolate offers chocolate-makers far exceeds any other.

    During this webinar you will get to know the interesting world of milk chocolate. We will begin with an overview followed by a question & answer session.

    All are welcome - from absolute beginners to those more experienced.  

    Join Max Makowski and CocoaTown Saturday February 20 from 10 am - 12 noon Atlanta time for this fun and informative discussion about milk chocolate. 

    Use this link to register https://cocoatown.com/blogs/blog/mystery-of-milk-chocolate-solved-theory-practical-tips-by-max-makowski

  • February 14, 2021 12:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    According to Gabriella Gershenson of the The Wall Street Journal  hot chocolate "is exactly the kind of harmless sedative America needs right now, the ultimate expression of self-love." Her article also features three FCIA members Maricel PresillaMatt Caputo, and VALRHONA which is the brand acclaimed NYC restaurant Frenchette serves at the landmark Rockefellar Center Plaza from a vintage Citroën van (pictured above).  You can read the entire article if you subscribe to WSJ here. However if you are inspired to make chocolat chaud for Valentine's Day, our friends at Valrhona freely share their recipes here

  • February 13, 2021 9:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Boxed chocolates are often off-limits to those with any common allergies, but the Amore di Mona Assorted Mignardise Red Gift Box (16 pieces) is filled with vegan confections that are made in a facility free of gluten, soy, dairy, tree nuts, and peanuts. They were the best-tasting chocolates we tried of four allergen-free options, and they have all the taste and texture of the finest boxed chocolates, without the worry of allergic reactions (including anaphylaxis). 

    Read full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/gifts/best-boxed-chocolates/

  • February 04, 2021 5:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Chocoa cocoa and chocolate trade fair has unveiled major industry figures for its online event, including an opening address from ICCO executive director Michel Arrion, and representatives from Nestlé, Cargill, and the Solidaridad organisation, reports Neill Barston.

    As the countdown to the sector showcase being held virtually between 24-26 February continues, organisers have confirmed that its core theme of sustainability for the sector will encompass a broad spectrum of topical issues.

    Speaking to Confectionery Production in a preview interview for the event, co-founder Jack Steijn, of cocoa consultancy business Equipoise, explained that he believed there was a strong demand for continuing the fair online amid the pandemic, in light of being able to stage its full three-day festival in its traditional physical format staged each February in Amsterdam.

    As he noted, with 2021 being designated as the International Year for the Elimination of Child labour, the online conference’s will take this as one of its core themes. It will address perpetuating problems and solutions that could lead to eradication of the issue – which still impacts on around 1.5 million children in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

    Topics such as re-thinking diversification, agroforestry, and digitisation are headlining at this year’s Amsterdam Sustainable Cocoa Conference (ASCC), which forms one of the show’s centrepieces, and opens the discussion between sustainable cocoa professionals.

    Another of its core elements is the Chocolate makers Forum (CMF), in which artisans from across the sector will discuss sustainability matters, as well as the challenges and opportunities in promising markets for high-quality cocoa and chocolate.

    Topics such as communicating sustainability efforts, the future of organic, and adding value to cocoa & chocolate will be headlining. The CMF includes a joint session with the Fine Chocolate Association (FCIA) discussing how to boost the craft chocolate market and expand to the US & Europe (see our latest video with Bill Guyton, who will be speaking at Chocoa 2021.

    Besides hosting their usual quality presentations and engaging discussions on important sustainability
    issues Chocoa stands out by offering unique virtual networking experiences.

    As promised, their innovative Network Plaza offers space to arrange formal and informal meetings throughout the event, as well as dedicated matchmaking carousels. This feature allows participants to randomly meet interesting people just as they would at a physical event.

    The matchmaking carousel matches participants based on tags they have chosen, ensuring they will be matched with someone who meets their interests.  For example, if they classify as a cocoa seller they will be matched with cocoa buyers. Chocoa 2021 aims to connect the entire sustainable cocoa industry.

    Organisers have set out to provide three days full of virtual networking, knowledge exchange, and business opportunities. As participants can join Chocoa virtually from all over the world, they expect participants from more origins than ever. Partners such as DISCO, FCIA, WINCC, PromPerú, and Port of Amsterdam have joined already.

    The final programme has yet to be released, but includes sessions on ‘Data, Digitization and supply chain transparency’  featuring contributions from Susanne Uittenbogaard, Cargill, Megan Passey, ICI, Michael Chrisment, FarmerConnect.

    A further session, Agroforestry, the transformative power of cocoa will see a presentation from Felipe Vilela, of Re-Nature ( who has been named by Forbes top 30 of most influential young people), as well as a topic on Re-thinking diversification with Nico Roozen of Solidaridad. A further element focused on Impact Investment, will be led by Peter Heijen.

    Last year, Chocoa introduced its Late Night Show at Noon show, which took on the format of a late night chat show, evaluating a number of key sector themes on how the cocoa sector engages with consumers and its wider role in sustainability.

    This year’s virtual version will see Carla Martin of FCCI speaking on the topic of the impact of Covid on specialty cocoa, as well as an examination of producing chocolate made entirely from  cocoa fruits using cocoa pulp as a sweetener’ speaker, with Dr. Joselio Viera, PTC York, Nestlé Global confectionery. For more information on the full programme, visit the website chocoa.nl


  • January 29, 2021 11:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As a part of CocoaTown's 2021 Empowering Chocopreneurs webinar series we are honored to announce our upcoming webinar presented by Dr. Kristy Leissle.

    Dr. Leissle will share about her research, writing, consultancy, and NGO work in the cocoa/chocolate sectors in West Africa and Africa's importance to chocolate & why West Africa needs to innovate in its value chain. She will also talk about price innovations, value addition innovations: domestic chocolate, confectionery, and more.

    We will hear about the Cocoapreneurship Institute of Ghana (CIG) her non profit organization.

    She will also cover:

    --Supply chain innovations from planting to harvest, and challenges that remain

    --Fermentation innovations, with guest speaker Leslie Agyare of Three Mountains Cocoa

    --Supply chain from drying beans to port: spaces that remain for innovation

    --Beyond the supply chain: innovations in infotech, traceability, and challenges that remain

    We'll conclude the webinar with a question and answer period.

    Join CocoaTown and Dr. Kristy Saturday February 6 - 10 am to 12 Noon Atlanta time for this compelling talk on Challenges & Opportunities of the Cocoa Value Chain in West Africa.

    To register for the event visit https://cocoatown.com/blogs/blog/spaces-for-innovation

  • January 23, 2021 11:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Pastry Arts Magazine is looking for any brands/companies who want to submit a video for the Pastry Arts Virtual Summit.

    Just like the  2020 summit, all videos will be pre-recorded (nothing live). The summit will open late spring (May) and will remain open for the entire year (allowing a very large attendee count).  

    The summit will be designed for dessert professionals (chocolatiers, pastry chefs, professional bakers, cake artists, etc.), and to serve them with professional development.

    Videos should be anywhere from 15-60+ minutes in length and could be demonstrations or presentations (talks) on a myriad of topics (a full list of topics from last year’s summit are on www.pastrysummit.com).

    The timeline is 3 months to turn in the video/assets (mid April), which should be plenty of time. And on the note of videos being submitted, they DO NOT have to be professionally produced. Plenty of 2020 participants recorded with digital cameras at home, or through Zoom calls, which all were acceptable.

    If you are interested in participating please reach out to Shawn Wenner at Pastry Arts Magazine shawn@pastryartsmag.com by the end of the month as he would like to finalize the roster of presenters.


  • January 23, 2021 9:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Northwest Chocolate Festival will take place October 30-31, 2021. For event details visit the website.


  • January 19, 2021 12:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Are you looking to invest in your first melanger and want to know how easy it is to use and maintain? Do you have a CocoaTown melanger and want to know how to care and maintain your melanger to extend its lifetime?

    Join us this Saturday January 23 at 10 am - 12 Noon Atlanta time for another Empowering Chocopreneurship education series Equipment Basics webinar.

    Webinar Topic - Care & Maintenance of CocoaTown Melangers Presented by Ms. Andal Balu and Dr. Balu Balasubramanian, Co-Founders of CocoaTown.  

    What you will learn:

    • The difference between the four CocoaTown melangers                   
    • What are normal wear and tear parts
    • How to maintain, repair, replace parts

    There will also be time for a question & answer session.

    Please feel free to ask your specific questions about CocoaTown melangers in the comments section and we will be sure to cover them during the webinar or through our FAQ after the event.

    To register please visit https://cocoatown.com/blogs/blog/care-maintenance-of-cocoatown-melangers

    Also, please share this information with anyone you think will benefit from our Empowering Chocopreneurs webinars.

    #cocoatown #empoweringchocopreneurs #beantobar @cocoatown

  • January 11, 2021 11:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FCIA is pleased to welcome Ecuakao as one of our newest members. Ecuakao is a company dedicated to sourcing, processing, and distributing cocoa beans and cocoa products.

    Q: Could you please tell us about your business in terms of size, specialization, and services?

    Ecuakao is a cocoa bean and cocoa semi-finished processing company founded in March 2018 in Guayaquil, Ecuador. We purchase cocoa from small and large farmers, as well as from our network of suppliers throughout the country. We process cocoa beans into cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, and cocoa powder at our factory in Guayaquil, then export our beans, liquor, butter, and powder to clients around the world. We’re currently exporting approximately 25,000 metric tons per year on a bean-equivalent basis. We’re also active in implementing sustainability programs on the ground, and around 60% of our exports in 2020 have been UTZ certified.

    Q: What were some of the main reasons you decided to join FCIA? What do you hope the membership can bring to Ecuakao?

    As an Ecuadorian company, we are interested in being part of important dialogue related to cocoa in Ecuador and learn from the esteemed members of the FCIA. We are also dedicated to the well-being of the Ecuador producers and look forward to working with fellow members to find the very best markets for their cocoa.

    Q. What do you see as the growth potential for the specialty cocoa market over the next five years? How is it different from commodity cocoa?

    Specialty cocoa in Ecuador has a rich history that many farmers are proud of, and they are a result of hard work preserving their traditional cocoa trees. However, producing specialty cocoa faces numerous challenges related to flavor issues due to mixing with commodity-grade cocoas, agrochemical contamination, and excessive heavy metal content. Most importantly, specialty cocoas are under threat due to the relatively low productivity found on traditional farms than farms with highly productive clonal varieties. Direct contact and direct working relationships with specialty cocoa producers are essential to the long-term sustainability of these varieties.

    Q. Could you tell us about some of your farmer training and support programs in Ecuador? Has COVID-19 impacted your abilities to implement these programs?

    Ecuakao carries out extensive farmer training programs in collaboration with our customers. UTZ remains the certification that most of our customers support, so our farmer training work is based on that standard. We are now preparing to shift from the UTZ program to the Rainforest Alliance program as the merger is now complete, and the transition will be implemented this upcoming year. Regarding the impact that COVID-19 had on our programs, it was certainly challenging in terms of group farmer training, mobility throughout the country, gathering of support documentation, and scheduling/execution of training and audits. We were fortunate in that the most severe lock-downs in Ecuador occurred in the main cities of Guayaquil and Quito. We managed to maintain our programs throughout the year.

    Q. There are concerns from some of our members that high yielding cultivars such as CCN51 are displacing Arriba flavor cocoa. How has Ecuakao positioned your business to supply cocoa with specific flavor attributes to interested buyers?

    Ecuakao sources cocoa from small farmers, large farmers, and from our network of suppliers throughout all cocoa growing regions in Ecuador. It is certainly true that the ability to source Arriba flavor cocoa is increasingly challenging as CCN51 grows and spreads throughout the country. However, Ecuakao does feel that with a careful selection of beans and thorough sensory control, flavor cocoas can be sourced consistently, both now and for many years to come. Ecuakao sells cocoa beans and cocoa liquors to customers, both large and small, throughout the world. Each of these customers has a specific flavor profile that must be matched every time we ship. To support this process, Ecuakao has a highly trained sensory staff and rigorous sensory control procedures. Our sensory staff maintains control samples in our sensory lab, and we offer pre-shipment sample approval conditions to our customers.

    Q. What trends do you see in fine chocolate in the next couple of years?

    As cocoa and chocolate lovers, we have a deep passion for fine chocolates related to the incredible flavors and the stories behind the chocolate. We believe that providing chocolate consumers with a connection to producers at origin will be a significant trend of the future. We hope that our membership in the FCIA will help to facilitate some of these connections.

  • January 11, 2021 10:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The FCIA support team is looking forward to working with our new and returning members in 2021. Since we don’t have a physical office, the team meets virtually every week via Zoom to plan our work schedules. This has always been the case, even before the COVID pandemic. I thought it might be helpful to give a brief introduction of our team members for your reference. All are part-time consultants to FCIA.

    Bill Guyton, Executive Director (Arlington, Virginia)

    I have been in this role for nearly three years. I recently wrote a background blog post on my professional experience, including supporting agricultural programs and trade associations. My main tasks at FCIA involve supporting the board and committees, developing new partnerships, managing staff and finances, serving as FCIA spokesperson, and implementing FCIA’s strategic plan.

    Ephi Maglaris, Events Manager (Chicago, Illinois)

    Ephi joined FCIA last summer. Her background is in event planning, and she has worked with the National Restaurant Association in the past. At FCIA, Ephi works closely with the Events and Education Committee to organize and implement all FCIA events, including educational webinars, conferences, regional meetups. She also helps to onboard new members and assists with our social media efforts.

    Jennifer Wicks, Finance Manager (Sevensville, Montana)

    Jennifer has worked several years for FCIA and is the only chocolate maker on staff. She manages FCIA finances and oversees the partnership program budgets, including for MOCCA.

    Mey Choy Paz, Private Sector Liaison (Tingo Maria, Peru)

    Mey is a sensory analyst with a background in cocoa trading. She represents FCIA on the MOCCA program in Latin America, which is funded by the US Department of Agriculture. Mey’s specific duties are to link cocoa farmer organizations with company members and to provide quality assessments of cocoa.

    LaSaundra Scott, Administrative Assistant (Shreveport, Louisiana)

    LaSaundra joined the FCIA team in the last half of 2020 to assist. She helps behind the scenes on webinars, board elections, membership database, and email distributions.

    Taylor Beasley, Communications Intern Winter 2021 (Oakland, California)

    Taylor is a student at Miami University with a co-major in Strategic Communications and Entrepreneurship. Due to the pandemic, she is living in California and taking classes remotely.

    "I am thrilled to have the chance to work with and learn from such a passionate and hard-working team such as this over the next few months. With my interest in social media marketing and outreach paired with my love for fine chocolate, I plan on both educating myself on the industry as well as contributing to the already successful FCIA to the best of my abilities."

    Kristopher Nunez, Communications Intern Winter 2021 (Woodhaven, New York)

    Kris is a Freshman at Wheaton College in Boston. Due to the pandemic, he is living at his home in New York.

    “It's such an honor to finally work with FCIA, a team so eager and motivated to educate and grow the fine chocolate industry. With my previous experience in social media marketing, web design, and video editing, I hope to contribute to FCIA's continued success. As someone from the Dominican Republic, where I'm from, fine chocolate is starting to rise in popularity, so I'm thrilled to bring back anything I can educate myself on working through FCIA."

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Executive Director / Membership Inquiries: Bill Guyton / 1.206.577.9983 / Email Bill

Operations & Membership: Ephi Maglaris / 1.312.771.0181 / Email Ephi


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