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I'm looking for equipment to make small amounts of cocoa liquor, 5-20 g. With the ability to make small quantities one can taste effects of roast, fermentation, drying, etc variables quickly and without large quantities of beans. The Champion juicer 'absorbs' about 50 g before any liquor is produced.

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Hi Skip,

If you are only working on 20 grams of cocoa then you could try a mortar and pestle. Lots of hard work to get a result, but it can do the job and it's cheap. That was how we produced our first experimental chocolate when we started out. Any mechanical grinder is going to loose at least ten or twenty grams of material in its mechanism.

I take a couple of beans (usually one big one and one small one) out shell them chuck the nibs in my mouth and chew them on my back teeth with a good pinch of sugar. If you chew for a bit without swallowing the paste gets macerated enough to give you a good approximation of how the chocolate (dark 70%) is likely to taste. That is how I do my roasting. Mind you I only do this when I am experimenting with a new origin or batch, once I have a good roasting profile I am able to get very consistent results without the need to constantly taste.
Interesting technique Tom. Not one I would have thought of.
Thanks Tom,
I do this when roasting but the pieces interfere with my concentration. We also work on coffee in my lab and I need to remove the floating coffee grounds before spoon tasting coffee too.

We've tried mortar and pestles but too time consuming for the number of samples I will need to run.

Have you tried a Krups coffee grinder?

Here's a video
that shows John Scharffenberger using a grinder like this.

In the video John mentions an Indian Spice Grinder like this one. The nice thing about this Indian Spice Grinder is that it has a built-in paddle so you don't have to stop the grinder to scrape the sides down as you would with a more conventional coffee grinder. The North American distributor for this appears to be in Canada. It's not clear if it'll handle samples as small as 5 grams, though.
Clay you have just reminded me, when I was extracting grapes we would use a small microniser into which we put a few grapes then freeze in liquid nitrogen and blitz. The powder is extremely fine after only a few seconds. If you did this with cocoa beans and sugar, it would defrost very quickly and give you a good approximation of chocolate without the bits. I'll see if I can find a link to the piece of equipement. As for eating this perhaps you could use dry ice as a cooling agent instead. That said I have eaten things dipped in liquid nitrogen before. Once we did a liquid nitrogen fondue with marshmallows, you just dip them in briefly and eat, very interesting they are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle but cold instead of hot. Mmmmmm
I use a blade coffee grinder for just such experiments. The mortar helps but as you point out, Skip, is a bit of added time/labor.

Oh and if anyone is wondering, it should be possible to bring an electric blade grinder in your carry-on luggage. I asked a TSA official who ran it by her supervisor and she said it would not be a problem (but best to take it out of your carry on as you do your laptop).
Why would I want to know this, you ask? Well, the plan was to do some experiments on travel and I pack pretty light (no checked bags), so there you go.
The unit is by IKA ( just follow the links to the mills and click the AK11.

Good find. The A11 spec sheet specifically mentions that it can be used to grind cocoa beans for sample testing in batch sizes of 20 grams. I don't even think you'd want to freeze the beans first as the idea is to create something a smooth puree that looks like chocolate.

The only downside that I can see is that this puppy lists at over US$1000 whereas the Indian spice grinder probably costs far less than $200 and the coffee grinder less than $30.
Yeah pretty expensive, but it is an extremely powerful unit. I would expect you would get a much finer grade with the AK11 or at least achieve the smaller particle size much much quicker. It turns frozen grapes to dust finer than icing sugar in seconds - very cool.
Thanks for the info Tom,
I'll add it to my equipment wish list.


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