Hello fellow chocolate-lovers.
I'm wondering if anyone could offer guidance on which machine/ system to use as a step up from grinding clean cocoa nibs into cocoa liquor with a Champion Juicer.
I have a (very) small from-the-bean choco business and my current system for getting from nibs to liquor seems like it would be untenable on a larger scale.
What's your budget and what batch size are you contemplating (not what you're doing now) and how long do you want it to take?
I think the realistic next step will be a chocolate batch size of 60 pounds. As for budget, at this point I'm a bit flexible. I want to know some options so I can figure out what makes sense.
I guess I'm interested in learning about the smaller possible steps up first. Maybe <5k for a grinding solution. But if it made sense longer term to invest in something more expensive, I'd like to be aware of that.
I'd like grinding to take less time than it does now. Again, I'm not sure what a reasonable expectation here is.
The Old Tyme peanut grinders work well for many bean types. However, if you have one that does not have a lot of fat in it, it does slow down.
There are machines I have seen that look like meat grinders, but have stainless steel grinding burrs that are specifically designed to handle oily nuts, seeds, and beans, including cocoa. Throughput is over 20kg/hr and the fineness is 80-100 microns. If you are interested I can look into them more closely.
Another alternative I have been looking into is vertical cutter mixers. You could probably process about 30 pounds of nib into coarse liquor in under five minutes. You can find them used for very good prices, especially for the capacity and throughput. Also, you can add sugar to the liquor to pre-refine before putting into the grinder.
Agreed on the Olde Tyme Peanut grinders having issues with lower-fat beans. I have an older model that would occasionally trip the breaker if I fed it too quickly. I've spoken with another maker who has the newer model, and they say it does much better in that regard.
I'd definitely be interested in learning more about any other options out there.
Ben- Do you know if the newer model is called PN2? If so, I will probably do that- there's one on craigslist in my area.
Clay- very interesting about vertical cutter mixers- I had never heard of them. If the meat-grinder machines are in between peanut butter machines and vertical cutters price-wise I would love any other info that you already know. Otherwise, I'll call some meat grinder companies later today and ask around.
Thanks very much!
Yep, the newer model is the PN2.
Thanks Ben! I appreciate it.
One model of vertical cutter mixer (VCM) is from Hobart (link to Hobart web site page for the HCM 450). They tend to be expensive when new, but you can get them for under $5k used through eBay or Union Equipment. In fact, it was a conversation with Jim Greenberg at Expo East that brought using a VCM to my attention. You should be able to process ~20lbs of nib into liquor in about five minutes or so. If you start with smaller quantities of nib, after grinding it into liquor you should be able to add sugar to it and pre-refine in the VCM.
Many schools and colleges with food service operations have VCMs. You should be able to find one locally and run a test before going out and buying one.
Thanks, Clay. Awesome.
When first starting out with making chocolate as a hobby, I used a food processor with a similar blade arrangement to a VCM to pregrind nibs into liquor. It worked pretty well until I burned up the motor. :)
I tried a different food processor, but it only could get the nib to a powdery state. I looked into a Robot Coupe, but decided they were too expensive at the time.
These commercial machines have 5 hp motors and are designed to work with viscous ingredients. The nib will turn from powder to paste once enough heat has been generated as you learned. However, having a powder and not a paste is not a bad thing, necessarily.
Robot Coupe does make VMCs and they also are expensive - new. The Hobart that you can buy used for <$5k costs over $13,000 new.
Hi Madeleine. One option is an olde tyme peanut butter grinder. I used one for a while, and know of some others who use them, too. These days, though, I skip the pregrinding step and just put the nib straight into the melanger.