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Hey Chocophiles,

Ive been doing more and more, playing at home with small batches of beans. <3#.  I still dont have a way to make a proper liquor. Doing it in the melanguer, is....far from good and requires babysitting for ~45 minutes....

I was wondering at how well a Wondermill JR or a peanut butter machine would work?  The Wondermill JR has a small youtube clip saying it does mash it up, but I was wondering how well that paste processes in a melangeur.

Cheers all!

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Alan -

I think the point is that at the scale you're working at now, anything larger or more expensive than the WonderMill Wonder Junior just doesn't make sense. It's about $250 with the drill attachment, though I would try to motorize it using the optional pulley) and you're not going to get better price/performance in a pre-grinder.

This doesn't make a "proper" liquor. However, anything you can do to reduce the particle size before you put it in your melangeur is going to speed the process up considerably. As Ben notes, warming the stones gently is also a good idea (use a small resistance heater that doesn't get hotter than about 100F, put it in the bowl a couple of hours before you want to use the melangeur - or overnight - and cover with something that will help keep the heat in.

From a tech perspective I think colloid mills are a better bet for oily products like cacao than hammer mills. I would be careful, however, about buying machines from China. There's a thread on the new melangeur from Kudvic where Victor talks about some of the issues he had with Chinese-made machines that led to his developing his. His experience echoes mine pretty closely.

Ben,

Have you managed to try out the Robot Coupe VCM on your nibs yet?  If so, how did it go?

Dave

Here in Guatemala a lot of people use Nixtamal grinders to grind cacao.  There are many models for sale in the US.  There's a video in my profile about artisanal cocoa butter where you can see one in operation.  Check around the 1:30 mark.

Dave,

Nope, I haven't gotten one yet.

Ben

I've recently purchased a 20-cup Cuisinart food processor. The motor specs are roughly comparable to the Robot Coupe I was looking at, but it has a larger capacity and is less expensive. It also has overheating protection to avoid burning out the motor.

I used it for the first time over the weekend on a small (approx. 1.5 kilo) test batch. It easily pre-ground the nibs to a gritty, but runny, liquor in about 5 minutes.

Afterwards, the motor housing was cool to the touch. It has an internal fan for the motor and the air blowing out of the vents never noticeably warmed.

I will be doing some more tests to figure out a few things. I imagine that theres a point of diminishing returns, where it no longer makes sense to keep running the liquor in the food processor.

-Ben

Thanks Ben that's good to know!!  I'll be curious to hear how long it eventually takes you with a much larger batch of nibs and whether it scales linearly.  For instance, would 15 kilos take you 50 minutes?  And then of course, it would be good to hear your impressions of the heat given off by the food processor after a much heavier load.

Dave

Hi Dave. I'll post the results when I do a larger batch.

Im not surprised to hear the Cusinart does good.  Ive used robo coupes for 20 years and I gotta be honest Ive never been impressed with their power (or is it power delivery).  That being said they do take a good amount of abuse (Ive seen one vibrate off the counter and still run. Not bad for a #15 machine.)  I do remember using a 20 year old Cusinart this past summer and I was impressed with it. 

One of my beefs with the robo is the small bowl, yes there are different sizes. but the your well into the >$2500 range.

I know Clay suggested using a vertical mill chopper, Ive only used them a few times.  Without trying it out, I would be hesitant to put my $$$ into one.  For one thing youd have to keep stirring it with the built in stirrer. I do like the idea of the corn mill.  Load a hopper, and watch it.  Possibly less involved than the vertical mill.

just my 0.02$

The point is that there are many options at many price levels for every budget and situation. I've seen vertical cutter mixers in production - so I know they work. You get very large batch capacity (compared with most food processors). Used, they can be had for $3500.

Perhaps ironically, I was told that the first Cuisinart food processors were private label Robot Coupes. Problem was, they never broke or wore out. So they were redesigned with smaller motors and in plastic.

Of the options, the Corona grain mill is the one I can't recommend even if motorized. These days they are made with cheap materials and, in particular, it's hard to put pressure on the grinding plates and get a consistent texture. That's from personas experience using them in Belize.

"   the first Cuisinart food processors were private label Robot Coupes "

hunh!  I did not know that. 

Vertical Cutter; good to know.

Corona mill; cheap materials- somehow i knew that might come out in the wash. I havent seen much quality in mid american manufacturing, IMHO.

thanks Clay

I've also heard from another maker who is using a VCM for pre-grinding in production. At some point, I'd love to upgrade to one for the larger bowl size.

Googling confirms that the original Cuisinarts were manufactured by Robot Coupe. Not so much that they stopped working together so Cuisinart could build in some planned obsolescence. :)  

Several of the reviews for the model I bought claimed that they had owned and abused it for many years. We'll see how it holds up to chocolate making... :)

This is probably outside of your budget, and I haven't seen anyone else do this, but Scott Witherow at Olive & Sinclair uses (or at least used to use) a Mexican corn mill. Check out the attached video at about the 1:25 mark. Looks like it works fairly well too.

http://vimeo.com/7968657

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