I was wondering if anyone can offer some advice on pregrinders. I have been using the champion juicer which is slow and messy. I see that INNOmix offers the Surya Mixer Grinder (which looks to be the same as the CocoT mini Pregrinder but about $20 less at INNOmix (http://www.innoconcepts.com/)), as well as four other models: The pigeon kitchenmate, pigeon kitchenmate 2, pigeon special, and the pigeon special plus. These four other models have a larger capacity than the Surya Mixer Grinder/CocoT mini which can only take 2 cups at a time.
I'm trying to find a pregrinder for less than $200 that can grind 4+ cups at a time. Does anyone have experience with these grinders or others that are within these specs? Any insight is much appreciated! Thanks!
I was having similar issues and did not like the champion juicer. Super messy, heavy, and always getting really hot. I ended up using a grain mill. If you secure it to a table it will quickly refine the nibs to liquor. It will be a peanut butter consistency. It's a bit of a workout, but if you are not doing too many lbs a day it works great. We have a few videos of the grain mill in action if you check out the manoa chocolate website. Hope this helps.
Cool video! The grain mill looks like a nice and economical way to make liquor.
I don't really see why you need a pregrinder. Both the Santha and Ultra can perfectly handle (warmed) nibs. I haven't used the Champion (or any other device) to pre-grind since my second batch of chocolate in 2008!
I tried nibs directly but not warmed, the instrument seized up. So if you warm the nibs and allow the cocoa butter to soften the Santha can grind without any issue?
Absolutely. They do need to be quite warm, 115-120 F at a minimum, as must be the bowl and stones!
You can't dump the entire recipe's worth of nibs in all at once either, it takes about half an hour of slowly adding them in.
It also helps to add some of your supplemental cocoa butter at the beginning to lube things up a bit.
You may also need to tighten the belt from time to time.
Sebastian has a very good point... we actually replaced the craptastic black rubber belts with fiberglass link belts which last 10x as long.
And still the belts need to be retightened about once every two months.
I am now in favor of pregrinding the nibs. Even with melted cocoa butter to start, the cold nibs put too much stress on the machine and can easily separate the plastic center piece from the stone. I tried warming the nibs in the microwave, together with cacao butter and it was as slow as doing it separately.
We deal with three machines at a time and without proper pre-grinding or pre-warming the nibs take a long time to pour in, and can damage the machine leaving it out of service.
I see a lot of used meat and grain grinders around, like this one, but I'm not sure if they can be sanitized well enough to deal with cacao.
I've been making chocolate with Santha/Ultra grinders since 2008. The machines are in constant use. I have yet to experience separation of the bowl(s) and as stated before, since my second batch of chocolate, I don't pre-grind. My biggest wear item are the bushings in the stones.
We have a warming box set to 115F and just leave the nibs in there overnight. Warming them in a microwave seems kind of counterproductive, as the nibs' very low water content will make them difficult to warm.
How do you go about tightening the belt? Where did you get a fiberglass belt (I'm working with the spectra 10)?
You need to open up the machine and you will see the places where belt tension can be adjusted. The fiberglass link-belt can be bought at any decent hardware store or Amazon. IIRC I used 3/8". The great thing is that it's just what the name says: it's not a continuous belt but rather a series of links that you can adjust to length.
Great, thanks for the info Cheebs