The Chocolate Life

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Meaning no disrespect, but we ARE in a recession.

Four thousand dollars for a cocoa pregrinder?  For reals? I use a meat grinder with various sized disks ( the holes where the ground material exits ), $80 new, and a one horse motor from harbor tools to drive the grinder with a belt. ($110 ) new.  A couple of runs through my grinder, changing the disks to smaller sizes), and my cocoa is perfectly ground into acoarse paste for my stone grinder. Total cost of this equipment ( which can be commonly found on the net or in local stores ) about $200. $4000? Serious?




Ricardo V.

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Replies to This Discussion

Ricardo, you are very resourceful! I am impressed....I'm not so good at fabricating my own equipment!
Thank you Patti. Actually I have no special fabrication skills. But I am not too shy to ask for help. Eventually with help I get things right. You can too, I'm sure. May you have fun and success in your hocoate adventure!


With all due respect, there are a couple of issues you may not have considered.

The first is that your meat grinder option may not actually meet health codes for commercial production. It might be okay for home use or in some jurisdictions, but in some states (especially California and particularly in San Francisco), if it's not NSF and UL listed you probably won't be allowed to use it in commercial production.

Please also note that the grinder processes 65 pounds/hr down to 48 microns average particle size. What's the throughput of your method? Nowhere close to 65 pounds/hr I would guess as you have to run the paste through the machine several times. Throughput is especially important if you have more than one refiner/conche. Also, by getting the particle size down to 48 microns, the mechanical load in particle size reduction in the refiner/conche should be reduced as well, making that process more efficient. Throughput and efficiency may not be huge issues for hobbyist use, but they are for commercial production.

While your home-brew solution makes sense in some situations, the $4k option also makes economical sense as well ... in some situations. And, actually, it may not be all that expensive for what it delivers, especially if it has a duty cycle that will enable it to run day-in, day-out, for hours a day.
Clay, with the respect due to you:

A couple of things. The California CCRs say nothing about prohibiting a "meat grinder" for cocoa. Nethier is there a particular problem with environmental management here is Sacramento. Ask Val Siebal, he runs that shop and is my old boss. Can\t use a meat grinder to grind coca nibs? They make sausage. I don't know about San Fran Cisco, but sausage is still legal in Sacramento. So, Dude, don't make up things.

If someone wanted to make boutique chocolate, your machine might be a good choice. It sounds nifty. Maybe, but only if a person had money to burn and a lot of friends ( and I mean a lot) who just love chocolate. I suppose there are such people in the world. Wish I knew 'em. Anybody? Anyone?

But, if a person really wanted to go commerical, they'd buy a roller mill that you can set to whatever micron size you desire. But those run $25K or at least $15K refurbished (last time I checked).

Basically your machine is too expensive for most home afficionados and too inefficient for commercial ops. In my opinion, snide remarks about hobbyists or home-brew solutions are not going to help you flog your contraption.
By the way, Clay, seems to me you've been offering people some odd advice with respect to the legality of consumer and commercial electronics in California. I'll check out what you've been saying at work at the California Department of Consumer Affairs. If you are correct you will receive my sincere apology. I hope you are right, but I doubt it.

The grinder in question is not mine - I am not trying to flog it. I repeat - the machine is not mine. Please read the original discussion.

As for the NSF/UL comments these are very real considerations in many locales, and specifically in California based on my work with companies in the state - and apply to food handling, not consumer electronics. While the health regs may be clear, how they are interpreted is open to interpretation. I know of many situations where one health inspector (or building inspector) passed something and another did not - for exactly the same situation.

You do make a very good point, which is that it's easy to find equipment for the home hobbyist and easy (though expensive) to find equipment for large-scale commercial production. However, it's much harder to find equipment that is scaled to mid-size production. The trade-off is usually one of time and labor. You buy a solution (like your meat grinder solution, which is pretty ingenious and much better than a Champion Juicer in many respects) that trades cost for time. I am thinking about how long it would take to run 50 pounds of nibs through a meat grinder several times through smaller and smaller holes to get the size needed. It might be more efficient (considered solely from a time-saving perspective) than putting the nibs directly into a 65 liter Grindeur refiner/conche but I am not so sure.

A three-roll mill would be an option for some, but production requirements would have to be pretty high to justify the investment of even $15,000 on a used machine.

I think at the basic level we are in agreement - hobbyist equipment is cheap but inefficient, large-scale production equipment is efficient but expensive ... and the equipment in the middle is not scaled (price or throughput) correctly - yet.

Is $4k too much for a grinder? Maybe, maybe not - it depends on your situation. The answer is not absolute. This may be the perfect solution for many. I was in a chocolate factory in Bolivia last week that had two cocoa pre-grinders AND a 5-roll refiner. They used all three for production of about 500kg liquor/day.
Dear Clay:

Well said! Apologies about flogging. I do think bean to bar production commercially is a risky proposition in this economy. On the other hand, shops that make chocolate confections and sell a variety of chocolates seem a better bet, all being relative. (Two of my friends with fine carpentry shops for over 20 years are going out of business this week. Alas, these are hard times.)

On a different note, the Bolivian factory set up sounds cool. Hope you post pics. (What kind of tempering set-up do they use?)

Thanks for the note. Best Wishes,



We want to bring to your attention that we have CocoaT mini Pregrinders for $149.99. It is a heavy duty pregrinder and can powder cocoa nibs in less than 30 seconds. Our customers are using this pregrinder to reduce the particle size and then grind in the melanger. Pregrinding has reduced the grinding time in the melanger to 6-8 hours (instead of 24- 48 hours).

This pregrinder is better than the juicers as you can grind them in single batch. You do not have to keep feeding the paste several times. Also since the cocoa beans are reduced to powder instead of the sticky mass, clean up is easier and there is less wastage of cocoa mass.

The pregrinder comes with two stainless steel jars - small one can grind up to 1 cup of cocoa nibs and the larger jar can grind 2 cups of cocoa nibs.

I have posted a small video on CocoaT mini Pregrinder at the discussion on

Hi Andal:

Clearly you do not remember me. You sold me an Innoconcepts Ultra grinder. It worked OK except it had a design defect, namely overheating. Your company redesigned the unit. I asked for the modifications, and you wanted to charge me.  I had to modify my grinder myself. When the automakers discover a design defect, they have a recall and make the changes free.  That is the way to treat customers.  Your way, making an additional profit from customers because of your own error is unacceptable.  You don't treat people that way much less entertain the fatuous delusion that they will come back.



Hello Richardo,

Thanks for your reply to my posting.  I do not intend to use this
forum for our customer service.  I do welcome you to contact me
directly to address your concerns appropriately.  I will also contact
you offline.

However, thanks for creating this opportunity to explain the forum
readers about the various grinder options.

Almost all of the wetgrinders are originally intended to grind rice
and lentils for a maximum of 30 minutes per batch. The Ultra grinder
has no design defect, but it can not be used for more than 30 minutes
per batch.
We recognized the need to use the grinder for extended periods of time
(such as up to 48 hours) in chocolate industry and did an extensive
research and modified the grinder to run for extended periods of
time.  We sell those modified units in to differentiate
from rice grinders sold in  At CocoaTown we were
able to give 1 year warranty for the chocolate use because of the
modification we have done.  We have done similar R&D and improvements
in commercial grinders as well.


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