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Discussion moved from this page (which has the live links). Originally posted by: Annette Jimison.

### REPOST ###

For small batches of chocolate, can an Indian wet grinder, such as the Ultra Pride +, http://www.innoconcepts.com/prideplus.htm, work as a small melangeur? I think that this is a smaller unit than ones I have seen offered on other websites.

Oh! I also am interested in anyone's comments on a Corona grain mill for cracking the beans. I understand that it can sufficiently crack the roasted cacao beans. Again, I do not do a large load of beans, so a small item is sufficient for me. I don't want to put the beans in a bag and hit them with a hammer, which is why i am opting for a Corona.

Has anyone tried a roasting drum from this vendor on Ebay? http://cgi.ebay.com/COCOA-CACAO-BEAN-ROASTER-DRUM-fits-RONCO-SHOWTI...

It looks like a fellow chocolatier has found a good niche product. Anyway, he says "Why purchase an expensive Cocoa (cacao) Bean Roaster when you can buy this extremely easy to use and very inexpensive Cocoa Bean Roaster Drum to roast cocoa beans with your RONCO SHOWTIME 6000 Pro Rotisserie appliance!!"

Has anyone tried roasting this way? I like the inside of the drum, and think that it would do a better job than roasting in an oven where I have to go burn myself while I turn the beans while they roast. I think this could work. Anyone with experiences in using these items?

I think those are the three pieces of equipment that I need input on. The roaster with drum, the Corona grain mill, and the Spectra Ultra Pride +. Thanks for giving me your advice! Annette

Oh! One other question. Compared to the quality of commercially made chocolate, how do you rate your chocolate's taste, look, aroma? What differences do you really see?

Thanks!

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Replies to This Discussion

Annette:

I personally have two of the InnoConcepts UltraGrind machines and find that they work well from liquor, not from nibs. I also have a small heat gun on a rheostat that I can aim at the side of the bowl to control the heat. I believe that Jeff Pzena of CottonTree Lodge is a member here and he has a small Santha that be can comment on.

The Corona grain mill is not for cracking beans, it's for grinding beans into liquor. Buy a Crankandstein (there's one especially for cocoa beans - make sure you specify that you are grinding cocoa beans as the rollers use different spacing). I have a small adjustable-speed drill that I use instead of the crank and I can go through a hopper of beans in under a minute.

You can use a Corona to make liquor, but it's very slow and a lot of work. Most people working at this scale use a Champion Juicer.

One of the most time-consuming aspects of the process that you haven't address yet is the winnower. There are a couple of discussions on the topic here and I advise you to look at them. The one that most people working at this scale use - a hair dryer - is time consuming and messy.

As far as the roaster is concerned. I have one of the modified Showtimes and I can't recommend it. It's clunky and the thermostat is off. I use an oven thermometer and an infrared thermometer to get the actual temperature inside the roasting cavity. The difference in price between the modified Ronco and the dedicated machine is worth the small price difference, especially if you plan to go intro commercial production. I know that Jeff Pzena has one of the dedicated roasters so he can comment on that.

:: Clay
I would ever buy anything made by Ron Popeil just out of principle. Also, the price difference is not worth the hassle of adapting something that's meant for one thing, to another. John at Chocolate Alchemy has refurb Behmors occasionally for $200... hard to beat that.

I use the Behmor and love it. To steal Popeil's phrase, you "set it and forget it" LOL! It gives consistent results all the time, and you can really play a lot with the programming abilities.

On the grinder front, I can only comment on the Santha. While it gets the job done, it really wasn't meant for chocolate making ad the added stress that tough cacao puts on it will make it fail eventually. I just bought an Ultra grinder from Alchemy but have not received it yet. I'll post my impressions once I have and have run a few batches of chocolate through it.

Regarding your question about quality of homemade vs factory, it really depends on who makes it and how you make it. If done right, it will rival or better anything made in a factory, in my opinion.
The link to the roaster drum is not working but this one does: http://cgi.ebay.com/COCOA-CACAO-BEAN-ROASTER-DRUM-fits-Foreman-Ronc...
Thanks for the input. I had thought that I could use the Corona for cracking beans. I use a small amount, and if I start to do more, then I will get a Crankenstein. I will stick with getting the rebuilt roaster from Mr. Nanci, and as far as the winnower, there are plans on the net for a couple. Again, my "thing" is a small deal. If I do start producing more, I will spend the money for other equipment. If I had a store nearby that carried the Indian wet grinders, I would stop by to see them. I really want to get something that can handle a beginner's batch and let me get acquainted with doing a small batch. I can always scale up later. Thank to you all for your help, I greatly appreciate it. I will stay away from Ron Popeil, too! LOL!!!
Before I had the Behmor and Crankandstein, I used the oven to roast according to the many online instructions available, and hand-hulled the beans. To crack them to a manageable size I just gave them a few whirls in the food processor.

While it sounds like a real challenge, once you actually get into the rhythm of things you can do a pound and a half of roasted beans in about two hours. The shells (mostly) come off quite easily. Prepare for some finger blisters!!!

A HUGE advantage to hand-peeling is that you'll get close to zero shell in your nibs. According to his website's blurb, Steve DeVries does not crack/winnow but hand peels, precisely for that reason.
Something that no one has talked about on any website, including John's, is the cooling of the beans afterwards. I would think that you want the beans to cool down immediately, because, as anyone who bakes in an oven knows, as long as there is heat in the food, it continues to cook. If you know that your beans are too hot to touch, and there will be substantial heat in them after you take them out of the oven, then they will continue to cook after you have brought them to a particular roasting time. You need to stop the roast cycle, so that once you have your beans at a certain roast, they don't go any further. I did see a cacao cooler on ebay, from the same seller that makes the roaster drums. And, I do think that after roasting, the beans go thru a cooling tunnel with the big guys.
Cheebs can you post a link for Steve hand winnowing please? thanks
I can assure you that Steve does have a winnower. I have seen it.

Why does the article say that the cacao is winnowed by hand? I'd imagine that something was taken out of context. You'd be surprised how often journalists get things wrong. They virtually always refuse to let you fact check the actual article, preferring only to let you fact check what they hand select. Often this results in serious inaccuracies.

Best,

Alan
Ah well not surprising that a magazine writer would twist the facts for their own purposes...

Still, not impossible to do moderate amounts of beans by hand. Here in Guatemala the small garage operations that make drinking chocolate, easily roast (on a "comal," a large, round, flat clay pan over a wood fire ) and hand-peel 50lbs of cacao daily.
Cheebs,

I definitely don't doubt it, but labor in the US is also a lot more expensive. I know that the Italian company Domori was, or maybe still is, selling whole cocoa beans that had been de-shelled by hand. I am almost certain that this was done in the country of origin.

As for making chocolate at home, it is definitely more reasonable to shell the beans by hand in that context, though I imagine that most people would still rather have a machine.

Currently I am having a winnower fabricated for artisanal chocolate production, and once I make sure that the bugs are worked out will plan on offering it for sale to small companies. However, I am quite confident that it will be too expensive, and overbuilt, for the home user.

Alan
just throwing this out there
after roasting when my roasted beans are in the cooling bin and are being gently agitated, there is a certain percentage that lose there shells but stay intact.
you just have to pick them out, this is what Domori may do

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