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So, I've got a decent amount set aside to order the equipment I need for small scale bean-to-bar production, but I wanted to get some advice before ordering well over a thousand bucks worth of stuff.

So far, here's the list of what I'm ordering (it all just happens to be from the same place since I like to order locally, and Chocolate Alchemy is a small business only a state away):

Spectra 11 Melanger ($490)

Behemor 1600 Coffee and Cocoa Roaster (comes with 4 lbs of free cocoa beans!)($300)

Crankandstein Cocoa mill ($190)

Champion Juicer ($240)

Slyph Winnower($200)

Total = $1,420

Is there anything I'm missing from this list? I know I'm gonna need some sugar, and powdered milk, and cocoa butter. I'm also gonna be ordering a 55 pound block of CB from John too, since it's the best price I've seen on organic fair trade cocoa butter ($380 for 55 lbs of deoderized) since I started looking for supplies. I'm gonna wait on ordering it though (and the milk), since I'll be starting with only dark chocolate.

Any comments, questions? Please, help out a novice just starting out!

Thanks in advance!

~Tom

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Depends how much you want to make and your budget.

I have a Melanger (I use a Premier Wet Grinder) and a Champion Juicer. I use the Champion for cracking beans because we happened to have one before I started making chocolate (I don't use a Crackenstein) and I use a hairdryer to winnow (I don't use a Slyph). I roast in an oven (so I don't use a Behomer).

I make 1-2kg batches at a time and find my setup works quickly and efficiently for me.

To back up Gap, you don't need a roaster.  Cooking anything is about heat and airflow - plain and simple. Cocoa beans will roast just fine in your oven.  I did it for 3 years before I started Choklat.  Now I roast in a commercial convection oven and my beans cook perfectly.

 

You also don't need the juicer.  It makes more of a mess than anything else.  I only used the juicer the first month I made chocolate.

 

There.  I've just saved you $540.  Go buy more beans and have fun!  After all, someone told me once (actually a couple of times).  "It's just chocolate." 

 

Cheers.

Brad

That's a good point actually re the Champion - even though I have one, I don't pre-grind the nibs in it before adding to the melanger . . . I just put my winnowed nibs straight into the melanger.

Well, I guess I should have mentioned my budget, huh? lol. My total I have for this project is $2,260. I've been doing molded chocolates and truffles, and our chuch's retired pastor is completely in love with them. lol. I had mentioned my desire to make chocolate from scratch to him, and a week later I was in his living room outlining my budget to him as he cut me a check for what I needed. Deal is him and his wife get a pound of chocolates a month for the rest of their lives! It won't be an insanely long time as he's 86 and she's 92! lol.

Anyways, I figured that between what I have listed, and $200 for 20 lbs of beans (I estimated that, since the average price I"m finding is between $8.50 and $9.50 an lb), $365 for 55 lbs of cocoa butter, $120 for 50 lbs of milk powder and $125 for 50 lbs of Sucanat (all natural, organic, f/t, unprocessed), That brings the total up to $2230.

Now, I've got a better source than I had originally quoted him for my beans. Got a guy in Costa Rico that charges $4 a kilo, plus shipping. Once I get things going (and I know how to NOT ruin my chocolate), I'll make a 100 kilo order which comes out to be about $900 including shipping.

So, I guess I'm asking if I should just skip getting the champion and the roaster and get the 100kg order of beans to start with? If I don't get those two and add the $200 for beans to that, I've got $750, so I'd need another bill fifty from somewhere to get the entire order...

Also, how long can I keep the un-roasted beans for? Do they spoil after a certain amount of time? The commercial kitchen we're putting in the church (that's where we're gonna do our baking and my chocolates, since we're outgrowing the co-op we currently work with) won't be done for AT LEAST two months, and even then it's gonna take a while for me to figure out the proper techniques for roasting and whatnot. I want to order things soon, but I don't want almost a grand worth of beans to go rancid before I even get the chance to make them into chocolates.

Another thought I have is that I have been assuming that the roast really determines the flavor of the chocolate about as much as the individual beans themselves do (somewhat like coffee. If it's shit beans, the taste is shit no matter how well it's roasted, and if it's roasted improperly, it's shit no matter how high the bean quality is). Is that correct, or am I way off base there? And where can I find more information on how to roast properly? I haven't been able to find much of anything for that answer...

Keep the beans dry and they will store almost indefinitely.

 

With regard to the quality and the roast.... My grandmother always used to say that you "can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear."

 

She was right.

 

Roasting is an exercise of experience.   Go with your nose to start.  The beans will start smelling like brownies, then get quite acidic, and then go back to rich deep brownies.  It's at the third stage you are done.  Do a low temperature roast to start (300f), and play around with times between 30 min and 60 min depending on the acidity of the bean. Smell them every 5 minutes to gain experience in what to expect.

 

Hope that helps.

Yes, it does! I was worried about purchasing 220 pounds and then the beans going bad before I had the opportunity to roast and use them. Now I've got some definite hard thinking to do about what I'm going to purchase then...

And it definitely helps in determining how to roast em, but it opens up more questions too... How much do you roast at a time? Do you use a regular oven, or convection? Do you stir the beans in the pan at all?

Thanks Brad!

Cooking anything evenly is about heat and airflow.  You need both.  A good example of what I'm talking about is putting two sheet pans in a regular oven - one on the top rack and one on the bottom.  The product on the bottom rack will be burnt LONG before the product on the top rack is cooked, because the bottom rack blocks the air flow created by the heating element, thereby trapping the heat underneath it.  This is slightly mitigated by staggering the trays (one on one side of the oven and and one on the other), instead of having them directly above of each other.

 

For your home oven, roast one tray at a time, and if possible use a perforated tray.  Fill the tray so that the beans aren't stacked on top of each other, but at least you can't see much tray under your beans.  If you have no perforated trays, you will need to stir the beans on the sheet pan every 5-10 minutes.

 

What I would suggest is to cut the bottom out of a sheet pan and fasten a metal screen in its place.  This will let more airflow through and give you a much better roast regardless of whether or not you have a convection oven.  Sheet pans are cheap, and so is screen.

 

In my shop we use perforated sheet pans.  (you can buy them in North America at restaurant equipment supply places through special order).  This along with a convection oven with the fan on low, works fabulously and we don't have to touch them once they go in the oven.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Brad

Well, I don't have any perforated sheet pans, but I would think just a trip to Bargreen's would net me some. I work with my mom's baking company out of the local food hub's commercial kitchen. We have a double Wolf stove with a 6 burners and a short grill, and a convection oven next to those. I've got plenty of options there, so I think the roaster is probably gonna be taken off the table for now... 

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