Protocols for HCP Lab Sampling, Storage, & Shipping Of Samples and Panelist Receiving & Storage Of Samples


Samples – Liquor
The HCP Lab will pour melted and homogenized liquor into sample containers (VWR Polypropylene Wide Mouth Bottle, 30 ml (Cat No. 414004-122) or equivalent and tightly capped. Each sample bottle will be evaluated to insure they are free of any off odors.Liquor samples will be prepared in the following amounts for the HCP Tasting Panel, USDA Applicant, which can change based on the needs of the HCP Tasting Panelists and the USDA:
HCP Tasting Panel and USDA

  • 6 (FOUR) 20g containers 120g total
  • 3 (THREE) 30g containers 90g total
  • 2 (TWO) 25g containers 50g total

To Return to Applicant

  • 2 (TWO) 25g containers 50g total

Retained by HCP Lab

  • 2 (TWO) 75g samples in 4oz non-sterile polypropylene specimen jars 150g total

All samples will be labeled with the HCP Application Number and the date of liquor milling.

Storage – Liquor (Pre-Shipping)
Liquor will be stored at chocolate warehouse temperatures (17-21°C, 62-70°F) until shipped to the HCP Tasting Panel or returned to the Applicant.

Samples – Chocolate
Following milling, all chocolate for evaluation will be homogenized, hand tempered, and molded into the HCP Lab’s standard molds of approximately 10g each. Tempered bars will be allowed to equilibrate over night and will then be vacuum-sealed in multi-layer, barrier film vacuum seal bags (e.g., FoodSaver or equivalent)allocated as follows:

  • Chocolate for HCP Tasting Panel (60g x 9 Panelists) 540g
  • USDA 20g
  • Chocolate for returning to Applicant 100g
  • Chocolate for retained sample 250g

All samples will be labeled with the HCP Blind Code and the date of chocolate milling and molding.

Storage – Chocolate (Pre-Shipping)
At all times, chocolate will be stored at chocolate warehouse temperatures (17-21°C, 62-70°F) until shipped to the HCP Tasting Panel or returned to the Applicant. Storage will be at least two days but is not expected to be more than four days from date of molding.

Liquor and Chocolate Shipping for Evaluation
The HCP Lab will use overnight shipping with heat protection, frozen packs, and/or any other methods deemed appropriate by the Lab to send samples to the Tasting panel and the USDA. (The HCP Lab based on the location of the Panelists will determine the best carrier. For shipments to Venezuela and Trinidad, FedEx is the preferred carrier due to delivery logistics within those countries.) For international shipments, packages will be labeled “research samples for evaluation” or something similar to avoid being held at customs or charged any duties.

Prior to shipping the HCP Lab or the chair of the HCP Tasting will verify that Panelists are available to receive the sample shipment and to conduct the sensory evaluations in a timely manner.

Storage of Liquor and Chocolate (Following Shipping of Samples)
Following the shipment of liquor and chocolate samples to the HCP Tasting Panel and the USDA, all liquor and chocolate (for returning to Applicant and the retained sample) will be placed at refrigerator temperatures in an odor-free cooler at less than 13°C (50°F) until the HCP Tasting Panel completes its evaluation and samples are returned to the Applicant. (Retained liquor and chocolate samples may be disposed of following the same steps as beans in the previous protocol.)

If storage longer than 2 (TWO) months from date of milling is expected, samples will be transferred to odor-free frozen storage for long term holding. Any sample stored under these long-term conditions will be equilibrated to room temperature prior to opening the container/vacuum-sealed bag.

Upon receipt of samples, if samples have been shipped with frozen packs, the HCP Panelist will opened the package and remove the samples BUT keep them in their sealed containers and allowed to equilibrate to room temperature. No sample will be opened when cold temperatures would allow any moisture condensation.

Panelists will store samples during this time at ambient conditions (air conditioned room temperature). If ambient conditions are too warm for the chocolate and pose risk of melting or bloom, then an odor-free refrigerator or wine cooler will be used to store the chocolate.

Panelist evaluation MUST BEGIN AT LEAST ONE WEEK from the completion of chocolate milling.Panelists determine their own schedule for the evaluation of the samples but will attempt to provide turn around of the evaluations within four weeks of receipt of the samples. HCP Tasting Panel Evaluation Procedures – see the subsequent protocol in the left menu.