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I might have a rare problem in that I extract my own cocoa butter using a screw press. The machine serves the purpose of making chocolate. The problem I am left with is doing something with the cocoa solids it removes.

The solids crumble into flakes, which I can grind down a bit using the wet grinder. I just add about two cups at a time to the grinder and run it about 20 minutes. At that point it is fine enough to bake with or use in making chocolate syrup, but not fine enough to mix into liquids, or in this particular case, ice cream.

A local dairy would like to give me the business of producing cocoa powder, but it must be fine enough to dissolve in their ice cream mix. According to the manager, the cocoa I produce is too coarse and shows up grainy in the ice cream. I am not sure what particle size you would find in say, Hershey's, but apparently I am not there.

Does anyone know of any economical solution for this? We have a Kitchenaid stand mixer and I've been looking at the grain mill which makes flour from grains, but I don't know if that would grind it fine enough or not. If not that mill, would any other commercially available mill work?


      Mark C

Tags: cocoa, powder

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your cocoa powder will never dissolve in ice cream - what you need to do is get a sufficiently small particle size that you can't see the individual pieces.  commercial cocoa powders are hammer milled down to a very fine particle size (< 8 um).  i'm not sure what attachments are available for a kitchen aid, but i'd be surprised if there was an off the shelf solution via that route (i've been surprised before though!).  perhaps look for an old sugar hammer mill - i don't think they're very expensive..

Thanks again, Sebastian

Yes, though I could never get a tech spec on the grind mesh range of a Kitchenaid grain mill, I realized it probably was not sufficient to grinding 200 mesh as looks like the max size for cocoa powder. Now I am wondering if the espresso setting on a higher end coffee grinder would work well enough, though I have my doubts.

I have an inquiry for this machine as to the mesh range, but don't have high hopes. I did a search for 'sugar hammer mill for sale' but have not found much yet.


    Mark C

just for giggles, i did a quick ebay search for hammer mills, and a few smaller pieces of gear did show up - caveat: i've never directly used any of the pilot pieces of equipment that are presently listed, so i can't speak to them directly, but there were a few there for less than $500 - i've no idea of your budget, but it could be that it's inexpensive enough to enable a 'try it and see what happens' scenario

My budget is painfully low as I've yet to make a decent chocolate and don't want to get in deep until I prove that I can turn out something edible. I can make confections that are good, but a plain bar, either dark or milk, is too bitter.

This weekend I reset my process to Chocolate Alchemy's method of using a Champion juicer to help filter out more of the shell. Will see how that goes. I'm not sure how this process could be made faster, as it's way too inefficient to ever think of going commercial with it. I am thinking I will try cracking the beans before putting them in the forced air roaster. That way more of the shell should blow off in the 15 minute roast plus 10 minute cool down. The fan removes loose shells.

I'm still hoping to make a breakthrough and experimenting with different aspects, but the beans I buy from the local market, as described in a different thread, are not fermented sufficiently. I'm still waiting for a neighbor to come up with properly fermented beans but trying to improve on the market beans in the meantime.

I've been curious about grinding the cocoa flakes.

I reached out to one of the sellers of the machines on ebay running around $500. It looks like that machine will not get as fine as the commercial cocoa powders. They replied that with a 400 mesh screen, you could get down to around 0.037mm or 37000 um. Here is our conversation string.

I wonder if you could make a 500/600 mesh screen to fit.... ???

hello sir
if you want to get 15 nm, i think our machine can not get your need, cause we just can get 400 mesh, it is around 0.037mm

- no.1-shops

Subject:NEW Automatic continuous Hammer Mill Herb Grinder,hammer grinder,pulverizer #150980503835
Sent Date: Jun-24-14 09:05:05 PDT

Dear no.1-shops,
I would like to grind cocoa powder. - The cocoa beans will be roasted and have most of the cocoa butter extracted. My extruder gives me flakes of cocoa solids.
The problem we've had is getting the powder fine enough that it will work well in ice cream. - our current coarsness of powder makes the cocoa appear grainy when frozen. 
  Thank you,

NEW Automatic continuous Hammer Mill Herb Grinder,hammer grinder,pulverizer #150980503835
Sent Date: Jun-23-14 18:16:54 PDT

 what do you want to grind?

- no.1-shops

 To: no.1-shops
 Hammer Mill Herb Grinder,hammer grinder,pulverizer #150980503835
Sent Date: Jun-23-14 13:13:04 PDT

Dear no.1-shops,
  How fine will the grind go? - I'm looking to get down to 15 nm.

Man there's got to be a way short of $10K to pulverise cocoa powder. I thought I read that cocoa powder can be as large as 200 mesh.

Larry - it may be a typo, but you've got 15 NANOMETERS as your particle size target, not 15 MICROMETERS.  huge, huge, huge difference...0.037mm = 37 um (not 37,000 um)

Mark - sure, it can be large, but then you have large, visible particles in your finished application.  For cocoa powder, finer is almost always better.  Historically the low grade asian cocoa producers were characterized by their large particle size - that's changing, but generally speaking cocoa powders users want a fine powder.

Hi Sebastian,

OK, what mesh size should be required? 500, as Larry was requesting? Or is the 400 small enough?


Oh boy, what a novice mistake. Thank you for catching it! :)

This site has a useful chart on converting mesh size to particle size

this site will send a 3"x3" sample of their 500 mesh screen. It may be large enough to work some magic. :)

Several of the charts referenced that a 400 mesh screen is as fine as can be made. Perhaps it would simply be impractical due to clogging and so forth.

Could you just run the powder through again after working it down to a 400 mesh screen? In theory the cocoa powder would continue to refine as it goes through the mill. I think it would just go through faster because the particles are already small enough to fit through the mesh.

This would probably result in an inconsistent size, but it may work...???

Another question I haven't thought of sorting out, is how small does the powder need to get to not be grainy in ice cream? Mark, do you know how fine your cocoa powder is right now? Is it as fine as a very fine sand (200 microns) or as fine as Portland cement (74 microns)

If the current particle size is large enough, then getting down to 37 microns may be a large enough improvement to work with.

Has anyone requested a quote from on the Pallman mills?

I haven't bothered them, but I wonder how much one of their mills would cost. I couldn't find anything reference a finished particle size on their site, but if they are selling it as a solution to the chocolate industry, it must be pretty good.

Typical high quality cocoa powders average 8um.  there's a distribution, of course - some will be larger, some will be smaller, but it gives you a feel for it.   how big is 'too big' for ice cream?  that's a very individual question with no clear answer, depends on who's looking at it.  finer is always better.  200 um will be too large, as i suspect 74 um will be as well.

what you may be able to do is mill it, use a very fine screen to sieve it, and whatever it retains (i.e. the 'overs') have those remilled until they pass your sieve.  it'll be a time consuming process, i wager, but should be effective.

Send him some of your unmilled material and ask if he'd run it for you to see what it yields?

Hi Sebastian,

I did some follow up on the hammer mills you found on eBay for under $500. The finest mesh they have is 250, 57um. That is probably finer than I am making it with my stone grinder, but from what you said below, probably not fine enough to mix into ice cream?

We're going to try and figure out what size Hershey's Cocoa is with a microscope.


     Mark C.

The answer is above, i'm very, very, very familiar with it 8-)

I'd explore asking the vendor if he'd mill some powder if you'd sent it to him, ask him to return it to you milled, and then make some ice cream out of it (i'd not consume it yet) for visual inspection.

I wonder if it's as simple as having someone else make a mesh to fit their equipment?


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