I am evaluating the Chocovision X3210 and Delta. It is attractive that the addition of the holey baffle can temper 6-8kg of chocolate made from the bean. Yet, from what I read it seems that the Chocovision X3210 and Delta are primarily designed for tempering using the seed method using blocks of chocolate which are later taken out.
Can the Chocovision machines temper without seed chocolate? Does it add significant time in waiting for the chocolate to cool down? I know I could extract some chocolate and cool it in the countertop while stirring to seed but this means it wouldn't be possible to extract it at the right time.
I've read glowing reviews of the Savage Bros 50lb countertop temperers as well as good comments on the smaller Pavoni Mini-Temper which holds only 3kg. Any other options I should consider for primarily bar moulding applications on a small scale?
Savy Goiseau temperers, according to their website, are equipped with a 3-phase continuous tempering system (45° - 27° - 30°) which can be adjusted depending on the type of chocolate.
It's my understanding that Selmi and FBM are equipped with a 2-phase continuous tempering system (45° - 30°). Is this right? If so, wouldn't the tempering quality be compromised?
The easy answer is yes. But it's a lot more complicated than that, and FBM does make a machine, the Unica, which has 3-zone tempering.
From looking (and working with) the control panels of various FBM machines I can tell you that the temperature range is far wider than 30-45°C. I know that the upper end of the range is closer to 60° and that can be modified. One customer here in the US is working with a chocolate that wants to be at 70°C! FBM provided a way to override the default programming to accommodate the higher melt point as well as provide additional heating elements to the working bowl to reach and maintain that temperature. If you are working with a chocolate made with no extra cocoa butter, then the working temperatures are going to be on the low side. Perhaps surprisingly low.
It also makes a huge difference where the final temperature sensor is, and how heat is applied to raise the temperature of the chocolate coming out of the tempering (cooling) pipe. It does no good to have it right at the top of the pipe, you need it as far along the output path as possible and you need a method of warming that is highly responsive and very precise.
It turns out that the geometry of the 2-stage systems is such that the third temperature zone happens automatically. Interestingly, the FBM Aura with its extra-long spout does a really, really good job in this respect.
What most people don't realize about continuous tempering machines is that there is a delicate balance that needs to be created to effect the continuous tempering cycle. More reactive and more precise control over temperature is most important. Also, the geometry of the auger in the tempering pipe is important because that determines the ability of the crystals that are formed along the pipe walls to spread to more chocolate. You can make the core diameter smaller to increase the amount of chocolat being pumped, but that means fewer crystals in the chocolate when it leaves the pipe. Making the core diameter of the auger greater reduces the amount of chocolate being pumped in any given time, but the quality of crystallization is better. If you have the ability to control the rotation speed of the auger, even better.
So - you can't just look at one specification and say that machine A is better than machine B. Tempering is a dynamic system and all of the elements play a roll. Keeping the temperatures balanced precisely within a narrow range over the course of the day could be more important than the issue of 3 zones over 2.
I found this discussion really helpful. Thanks Clay for all the detail. I have a Chocovision X3210 and am making only bars (for now). Which means it's all about the tempering. I'm not doing bean to bar (again, for now) so I'm starting with chocolate and blending for my own taste. I've gone circles with the X3210 trying to get a reliable, repeatable tempering process. It's been impossible. My bars have snap and sheen but if you know what to look for, you see slight gray lines or blobs. People eating it don't care but it's certainly not perfect. I spoke with Chocovision, and their chocolate expert multiple times. Have tinkered with ambient temperature, humidity etc. but despite all the right pieces to the formula, I cannot get a perfectly tempered bar every time.
So, the question I ask is, if I am going to make lots and lots of bars to sell wholesale, is the Chocovision X3210 not the way to go? Will I ever get it to work reliably? Or should I just give up and move to a "continuous tempering" machine as I am reading in this discussion. Any thoughts?
Hundreds and hundreds of hobbyists and working professionals get Chocovision Rev1, Rev2, X3210, and Rev Deltas to work reliably, day in and day out. I am not sure why you're not getting it to work properly and it seems as if you've taken the steps of getting them on the phone. I wonder, reading what you wrote, if it has to do with the blending. You might not be getting the chocolate warm enough (some Valrhonas really want to melt out at 60C not 45C) and whether or not there is enough mixing in the bowl. Try melting the chocolate in a bowl and then pouring it into another container and giving it a really, really, good stir then put it back into the bowl and restart the tempering cycle.
The discussion about moving up to a continuous temperer depends (in part) on the quantity of work you plan to do. Continuous temperers are more expensive, but one upside is that there is no real wait cycle between batches as you have with batch tempering machines. This can translate into huge productivity gains when you factor in the measured depositor which enables you to put a measured amount of chocolate into mold cavities by pressing a switch.
If "lots and lots" means hundreds and hundreds, then the difference in productivity is going to be worth the higher price of the continuous temperer.