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I wanted to see if any chocolate producers have used coffee roasters to roast cacao. I'm looking for a mid-size capacity roaster that doesn't look like a toaster oven and doesn't cost $30K. There are a good number of coffee roasters that are significantly less expensive and are much more attractive. 

Tags: Cacao, coffee, roaster

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Hi Yes you can, we do roast in  a coffee roaster and we do 1 ton a month if not more.

DO NOT BUY AMBEX!!! we have been victim of a fraud directly from them and lost about $5000!!! unfortunately we are in South Africa and is very difficult to fight them. if you want i give you the contact details of the factory in Turkey that build the ambex roasters and get it for a 5th of the price...

the roaster is based on a italian made drum and system and the rest is build in Turkey. decent machine and with a 19kg gas bottle we roast at least 15 bags of beans.

Hi Antonino-

Thanks for the information, did you have to do any modifications to the equipment?

-M

Matthew,

You'll find that most coffee roasting drums rotate too rapidly and tend to chew up cacao. I've tried in a Dietrich and a Joper and both produced significant levels of breakage. Also, these machines aren't engineered for the process of roasting cacao, which has different heat transfer characteristics and temperature profiles than coffee, so you'll find it's very difficult to dial back the heaters to achieve accurate temperature profiling without scorching. There's nothing better out there right now than a properly configured convection oven for roasting at that volume unless you have 200k, in my opinion. You can get used gas convection ovens for next to nothing.  A spouting fluid bed coffee roaster would be my second bet, but fluidizing cacao requires much higher airflow than coffee, so you're batch volumes would be smaller than rated and you'll still have issues with erratic agitation and breakage. Good luck!

Hi Matthew, Colin,

we didn't modify the machine.

our  roaster is equipped with digital  drum speed control, an electronic/digital  thermostat, and 3 point of gas/fire adjustment + ventilation valve that we can adjust as well.

we can accurately roast at temp of 120 or 140C quite accurately and unless you mess around with the settings.

Sorry, continued:

and unless you mess around with the setting you should have quite a even, consistent product.

we roast 15 kg beans at time and breakage is minimal (anyway, you need to winnow!!) with few tricks we manage to extract certain notes that we wish to have.. just a small change on the flame change the taste from hazelnutty to roast almond.

of course there is no limit to perfection and no limit to theoretical roasting and cost involved, but you are also in business to make money..

I've looked into coffee roasters too, and the one issue was drum speed.  The people I contacted indicated that they could slow down the drum rotation of any size of coffee roaster they sold, but there would be an extra cost. 

 

It sounds to me like Antonino has it dialed in (no pun intended) with the digital drum speed control.  Sounds Interesting!

 

Cheers

Brad

Great info…can you send me the information on where you got your roaster.

Can you post it please so we can all get the info?  Thank you.

Hi. Just wanted to add a bit from my experience. I'm working at Coffee-Tech Engineering.

We're manufacturers of coffee roasters and we have several customers roasting cacao with our roasters, some with our 2 Kg shop roasters and some with our 15 Kg commercial roaster.

Drum speed and other configurations were set, in advance, to meet the needs of the customers.

I might also add that our shop roasters embed restricted fluid bed roasting and that on our manual roaster all these can be set by the end-users themselves.

Anyway, if somebody wants more information, you're welcome to contact me or just look us up.

Hope I didn't break any ethical rules with this post :) 

Hi Clay,

i have pics and info about the Roaster, is it ok to post it?

Absolutely. - In fact, I prefer when people share this kind of stuff publicly on the site rather than privately via e-mail. That way, every member can benefit, including people who didn't know they wanted to know this stuff.

here we go, extract from an email i sent to a The Chocolate Life memebr.:

here below the email ad. of Erkan :eaydin@erselexport.com

my business partner (before i joined in) lost $5k on a deposit for a AMBEX roaster... then via some research he found out that was build by these people and bought it directly from them saving a lot of money.

i have attached some pics for you. in one there is the "control board" and you can see the digital thermostat  and the speed control, it goes from 20 to 70 and i did set it up at 25, just because is working at the moment with the product we do.

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