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I am just wondering if you want to make your own artisan chocolates, what equipments you need? And how much do you need to invest?


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Right now, I am doing my research, but will not make my own artisan chocolates at this stage. Just want to be prepared and keep an option, and know what is the lump sum for a basic setup.


Emay -

There is no way to accurately answer your question as posed for the simple reasons that:

a) we don't know what quantity of production you're looking at
b) we don't know what kinds of products you want to produce

That said, here are some things to think about:

The setup costs for doing hand-rolled truffles is the smallest. You can literally get into production on a small scale (i.e., hobby) for under $1000 in equipment costs. If you're going to be doing this commercially, then you're probably talking about closer to $2000, not including the cost of setting up the kitchen (unless you rent space you need to worry about local health department certification). What do you need? A hotplate, a pot, a bowl, a scale, an immersion blender and other smallwares (spatulas, dishers), and containers. If you don't plan to temper chocolate by hand, you'll want a melter (e.g., mol d'art) or small temperer (e.g., Chocovision Rev2). The two big cost items are the hotplate (if you get induction) and the melter or temperer. With this scale of equipment you can do hundreds of pieces a day ... perhaps more when you get skilled in production.

If you want to do enrobed pieces the cost is not all that different except that you need to have tools to slab and cut the ganache and chablon the bottoms before enrobing. This might add another hundred or so to your startup costs. You'll also need a temperature-controlled place to let the ganache slabs crystallize and then let "dry" after cutting and before enrobing. A speed rack w/sheet trays will work for that. After cutting the pieces to shape you'd dip them in the melter/temperer and set aside to crystallize. 

If you want to do molded pieces, you need molds, and good polycarbonate molds can cost more than $20 each. You need multiple molds to reach reasonable production rates ... they are your gating factor. Say $1000 minimum budget for professional (polycarbonate) molds. Figure at least another $500 for an airbrush/compressor if you want to decorate them that way. Depending on the number of molds and level of experience, a single worker can make 1-2000 pieces/day.

Costs start to rise when you start looking at producing real quantities. You need to increase the amount of chocolate you have on hand that is in temper at any one time and you may want to look at having multiple machines so you can have milk and dark (and maybe even white) in temper at all times. 

There's not much you can do in the way of machinery to increase production on hand-rolled truffles. To increase shelf life you are going to want to dip/enrobe them (in which case an enrobing line can automate that part) but the actual forming of the centers is still done by hand. There is machinery that is available specifically to do this and you can expect to spend at least US$20,000 for a complete system.

When it comes to enrobed slabbed ganaches, the first piece of equipment you may want to look at to increase production is a guitar cutter. These will cost $2500-$3500 new depending on a number of factors. The next item you will want to consider is an integrated temperer/enrobing line. At the low end you might be able to get away with spending $15-20k, but cost will depend on production requirements so you could easily spend $65-80k on this alone.

When it comes to shell molded pieces you're really talking increased capacity in the temperers, vibrating tables, and molds. There are many options for the tempering machines, but - again depending on capacity - plan to spend a minimum of $10k to as much as $50k or more.

To really increase production of enrobed slabbed pieces and molds you're talking cooling tunnel or some other form of specialized refrigeration for crystallizing the chocolate. Again how much depends on a number of factors all around production capacity which will determine either the length of the tunnel or the size of the cabinet. Solutions are available in the $2500 to $50k range.

And we haven't even asked if you're going to be producing your own nut pastes (pralinés) and caramels. Machinery to do these can cost $2500-$25k, again depending on how much you want to produce.

At the low end for a business starting up doing shell molding or slabbed ganaches almost exclusively with some caramels and some nut pastes for centers, I've seen investments of equipment and molds of about $50k sufficient to take you to being able to produce 500,000 pieces annually in a single shift, 5 days/wk. This $50k does not include the cost of setting up the production kitchen (plumbing, electricity, HVAC, fixtures, or specialized refrigeration). Also, this $50k does not include packaging, rent, other consumables, labor, permits, insurance, etc., etc., etc. 

You can, of course, spend much, much, less but you have to be much smarter about how you organize production. Which means your most important investment decision is to hire someone with significant production experience. That will probably cost you more than $50k/yr.

Wow, Clay. This is a perfect and concise list of range of costs for different type of productions. I wish I had this when I was trying to figure everything out. Well...I'm still trying to figure everything out but, that's another story! :-)


Thank you very much for such a detailed reply. I felt sorry that I asked such an inexplicity question and spent you so much time on reply. But it's very valuable information, like chocolate startup 101,  that can benefit lots of people who wants to start an chocolate busienss like me.

Very appreciate your support, Clay.

Dear Clay,


I am very interested too to find out the investment needed (and which machines to look for) for an industry devoted to origin coverture.  I was thinking in a 100 MT a year production since we have the cacao literally 2 hours away. It could go higher than this in the long term, but I want to start.  By the way, I am working with a chocolatier here in Central America....


Thanks in advance for your input.




This is a separate discussion that deserves its own thread, and I know it is one that several ChocolateLife members will want to follow along.

:: Clay


What needs to be done to begin this thread? I am acquainted with a number of farmers in Brazil that are deeply involved with "ultra high quality" beans. The typical sales to multinational firms does not come close to production costs. Many are interested in vertical development. Considering the tropical climate of high temperatures and high humidity, finished chocolate is pretty much out of reason. Please let me know what needs to get the discussion started.


Have you made a decision regarding the Ilheus Chocolate Show in July?



Jim Lucas


Thanks for reminding me. I will start it now.

At the moment, traveling to Ilheus in July not something I can afford, much as I would like to be able to.

What are the dates again? Maybe there is a way to find some small consulting work while I am there to pay expenses.

:: Clay

I'd like to echo what Susan and others have said about Clay's response being wonderfully helpful. I opened my shop last June, and Clay's numbers are real life right on.
Hi all, in Ecuador we have cocoa beans of high quality, we can supply cocoa beans, cocoa nibs or chocolate liquor cocoa couverage, send an email to with your request and we will be happy to serve you.

I have add this two pictures here, its an very old fashion ball roaster (able to roast cocoa by the batches and an even older version of an melangeur i.e. crushing the beans to a paste (what is missing is a winnower (removing the shells, but this can be don old fashion by hand).The machines are now in Indonesia, they were fully renovated to functional by a well know german company Wolf. If you are intersted I can link you to the current owner, they have never use it and want to resell.


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