I believe it's a good thing to visualize your dream happening. Imagine your chocolate business is booming and you need to buy the very best machinery to keep up. What would you get? A Selmi, LCM, Nova Choc, Savy Goiseau, Sollich, etc...? At the moment, I currently have a Perfect Equipment Enrober and I think it is an excellent entry level enrober. Of course, I would not mind upgrading when the time is right and the money is there. I would be very interested to hearing others' thoughts.
I'm dreaming of a Selmi with Enrober. Our business is growing to the point that it may shift from a dream to a necessity. The question I have for you is about your Perfect Enrober. We looked at it in Philly last year. You mentioned that it is a good entry level enrober. Why? BTW.We are currently using Hillard's and hand dipping.
Thanks for your post! I would love to respond in detail about the Perfect Enrober. As chocolatiers, we often have to purchase expensive equipment without having had the opportunity to take it for a test drive. What is great about this forum is that we can share what are experiences with equipment have been.
If you can afford a Selmi, it sounds like a great investment. Everyone I know who has one loves it. I would love to have one, but it probably does not qualify as my dream machine. I have seen the enrobing attachment in use on the "Futura" machine at the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy. At the end of the enrobing session there was a lot of chocolate build up on the belt because there was nothing keeping the belt warm. I would love to hear from other selmi owners if they have had this problem. I also saw the Savy Goiseau enrober in use and it did not have this problem.
To answer your question... I highly recommend a Perfect Compact Coater as an entry level enrober. Comparing the Perfect enrober to the Selmi is like comparing a Honda Civic to a brand new Range Rover. One will have a lot more luxuries and even be able to haul more stuff, but they will both get you where you want to go. Both enrobers will bring your daily production of chocolate from the hundreds to the thousands. During an enrobing session on the Perfect enrober, I get around 3500 centers coated with a thin chocolate coating and no feet. When I was looking for an enrober, I wanted a machine that could achieve a thin coating and the Perfect machine is the cheapest machine (and the only one I could afford) that could make this happen. Although the Perfect enrober operates through manual tempering versus automatic, it does have a blower and a detailer rod which are fundamental to creating a chocolate coating that is thin and polished looking. Now that I have owned the machine for 2 years, I get very good results. At first I did not get good results because I bought my machine used and it took me several months to realize I was missing a detailer rod. My machine did not come with a manual and I finally hired someone to take a look at the machine and give it a tune up.
Let me tell a little about using the machine... The night before I enrobe, I fill the machine with chocolate callets and let them melt overnight. At this point, only the wheel is on the machine and the enrobing attachment is not attached yet. When I come in the morning, I temper the chocolate directly in the machine through the seeding method. It takes me about 30 minutes or so. If you can temper chocolate in a bowl with spatula, you can temper chocolate in a big tank with a wheel. My tank holds around 40 pounds of chocolate. When the chocolate is tempered, I attach the 2 belts (one belt sends the chocolate through, the other is the exit belt with the paper take off). Attaching the belt, the blower, and the spout takes about 5-7 minutes. Then we do a couple of test runs to make sure that the chocolate curtains are flowing well and that the chocolates exit the belt without any feet. We also adjust the vibration of the belt to allow for the best coating.
I know that many people are concerned about having a wheel machine. I certainly was at first. I thought that I would be spending a lot of time fixing over crystallized chocolate with a heat gun. I don't. My enrobing sessions usually last around 8-12 hours and I usually am able to manage the chocolate without any big problems or using the heat gun much. I keep the chocolate at the best temperature and viscosity by adjusting the blower temperature. When the temperature begins to drop, I simply turn the dial on the blower to blow warm air. When the chocolate gets on the warm side, I turn the blower down to a cooler temperature. I use a heat gun about once every 2 hours just to keep everything in check and I usually use it only just for a minute or two. What is key is to make sure the room you are enrobing in is not too cool. 70 degrees farenhite is a good temperature. Last winter when it was 5 below outside, the chocolate got thick because the door was being open too often and our production room got really cold. I remedied the problem by adding warm chocolate so it is a good idea to keep a melter on hand with warm chocolate. I have a 6kg Mol d'Art melter. As for keeping a good temper, it is not a big issue so long as you have a good understanding of how chocolate works and what it needs.
When enrobing is done, I take off the belt and all the other parts. I rent space from a large wholesale bakery where there is a large dishwasher. I put the wheel and the chocolate covered belt in there and the parts come out as clean as a whistle. The pan that holds the chocolate is extremely easy to clean and I scrape the remaing chocolate into a bowl. The pan to the tempering unit (which is like a deep hotel pan) goes right in the dishwasher. The smaller parts I wash by hand. When I am able to get my own facility, I will definitely invest in a dishwasher!
Prior to buying the enrober, I was hand dipping and it was very time consuming. Although the machine I own is the most basic enrober, it has greatly increased what I can produce and using the enrober has become my favorite part of the chocolate making process. I certainly dream of getting an enrober with continuous tempering and a larger belt. When that day comes, I will still use the Perfect enrober as a secondary machine -- probably for enrobing in milk chocolate. The machine is pretty basic and the people that run the company in Quebec are very accomodating should you have any problems or need any parts. Considering that this machine costs around $11,000 brand new and that the enrobers with continuous tempering start at $30k, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Good luck with making your decision. Please feel free to ask me any further questions.
Daniel - thank you so much for taking the time to give such a detailed response. It is very helpful for those of us who are getting ready for a purchase. I know you don't have a Selmi but you seem familiar with them. You mention: " I have seen the enrobing attachment in use on the "Futura" machine at the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy. At the end of the enrobing session there was a lot of chocolate build up on the belt because there was nothing keeping the belt warm." Are there machines that DO keep the belt warm? Does the Perfect deal with this issue? It's surely something I would not have thought of. I will be looking further into the little FBM machines as well.
I was pretty much convinced that I wanted a continuous tempering machine - but I am changing my mind on that - not just for financial reasons. The wheel machines are work horses with little that can go wrong. They don't require 3 phase 220 electrical so are more versatile as to where they can be used. After years of hand dipping using a Mol d'art melter - tempering and holding the chocolate at a good working viscosity is not an issue for me. I don't intend to have employees needing to temper so don't require the 'press of the button' ease of a continuous machine. But before coming to any conclusions, I need to learn more about dosing devices which I am assuming are the same as depositing pumps. These things seem very clever to me. Great thread. I'll add to it as I learn.
Thanks for responding to the post. Overall, I think the Selmi machines are great and I would certainly consider it as the next machine I might get. I focus mostly on enrobed items versus molded so the function of the enrober is paramount for me. Selmi seems to be extremely versatile and probably has the dosing device you are looking for. As for the belt not staying warm, I just saw that it had a lot of build up at the end of the enrobing session. With that said, it enrobed great. I would love it if other selmi owners or a rep could comment on keeping the belt warm as these people know the machines a lot better than me. As for the Perfect enrober, I don't get a lot of build up. There is no heating device on the belt itself; however, I do keep an eye on it and will use the heat gun to keep it in check. As I mentioned, I also have the blower often operating at a warm temperature so that probably helps too.
If I could pick a dream machine, it would probably be a LCM enrober which are made in Germany. Even if I had the money, what could keep me from getting one is that there does not seem to be a lot of technical support in the USA should something happen. That's just my assumption. Another benefit of the Selmi is that technical support seems pretty good here in the states.
I look forward to hearing what you decide is best for your business. Considering that you have a lot of experience hand tempering and hand dipping, I am sure that you will be successful with whatever machine you decide to get.
Thank you for your great response. I've been away from the site for a few days hand dipping. LOL. Your last paragraph is exactly where we are at out shop. We currently have three Hilliards (Papa bear, Momma Bear and Baby Bear or Little Dipper) and have worked through the tempering issues with them. Jim @ Hilliards has been a great help with that. We too are dreaming of a Selmi under the Christmas Tree but don't expect one. We are hanging in there with production, but are at the point where we need an enrober to get to the next level. As I mentioned we looked at the Perfect Enrober in Philly, we looked at the Hilliard's 6" coater and at other options. We don't have the capital to just order a Selmi, but we need to look at all options to bridge the gap. That is why your response was so helpful. We know that any machine takes time to learn and tweak to fit our needs. We are doing molded, truffles, hard ganaches, etc, so we need a well rounded machine. I had also heard the negative comments about the wheel and over-crystalization so it was good to hear that with a little practice and patience it works fine.
You gave me much info so now I have another potential option. Will see if there are any used enrobers out there. Wish us luck.
Again, many thanks for all of your time .
Sounds like you have an interesting decision. I hear good things about the hilliards in terms of their reliability and how easy it is to replace missing parts (through a simple visit to the hardware store). I have never seen one in action, but checked out the website just a few minutes ago. The Hilliards Compact Coater seems like a good system. I notice there are a good number of used Hilliards on the market. Should you ever plan a trip to Chicago, just let me know and I can hopefully show you my enrober in action. Hopefully, this will be your last holiday season hand dipping!
The reason why the Selmi will be prone to chocolate build up is because there is no plastic cover over the belt. If you look at the two pictures below, you will see the Savvy has a plastic cover over the belt, which creates a warm atmosphere which keeps all the chocolate on the belt melted, whereas the Selmi does not have this feature.
A top chocolatier once told me the Savvy is the machine to have, however it is even more expensive than the Selmi.
That makes sense. I believe that having a heat shield on an enrober is a definite plus. The Savy and the LCM both have it. It is especially helpful when your room gets a little to cold. My little Perfect enrober actually has a polycarbonate shield. That's an option that you can order for the machine.
I have seen on some pictures of the Selmi enrobing line set up that you can have a cover.
The plastic cover is available on the Selmi but it's not the cover that provides all the warmth to melt the chocolate at the end of your session. Savy also has a heater (it's in the picture if you know where to look). When you get your training on the Selmi, they will show you how to avoid the buildup at the end of your session. Really easy.
Thanks for your comments. Can you tell us how one prevents chocolate build up on the Selmi while enrobing? That was the only flaw I saw in the Selmi.
I own a Prefamac 30 kg wheel machine with enrober, detailer and blower. Takes some practice to operate but am quite happy with the results I get. Sure, you do get more bells and whistles with a more expensive machine with automatic tempering, but you are going to pay $10k to $15k more. I don't have any issues with keeping the chocolate in temper as Daniel mentions; as long as you know how to work with chocolate it's pretty easy to keep temper all day. With two people operating the machine, I can do 800-1,000 pieces an hour. With the ceramic heat lamps that can be placed close to the chocolate, there is no or very little buildup on the belt or elsewhere even with the blower running.You can read more of my responses on this forum..http://www.thechocolatelife.com/forum/topics/if-selmi-is-the-cadala...