The Chocolate Life

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I was wondering what people's opinions were regarding artisan chocolates being refined and conched with stone wheel mills- melanguer, edge runner, verses roller refiners, ball mills, universals etc.? I know every chocolate maker has a philosophy of why they chose the equipment that they did- or was it strictly financial.

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if and when i purchase a mill it will be stone so as not to mess with the "alchemy" of the bean.
The important issues of grinding/refining revolve around the escape of aromatic compounds and particle size.

In a perfect world, you'd have a device that created the right particle size (or spread) at exactly the right time. Otherwise you'll end up with any combination of textures (gritty, perfect, gummy) and flavor (bitter, perfect, flat).

You have many options for working to create exactly what you're looking for: Different systems for different products or use a quick system for micronization and then a seperate non-reducing refiner. Other more exotic single systems exist in lab settings, making use of cylindrical sieves and such.

At the moment I use melangeurs. They produce a 4kg batch of finished chocolate every 2-2.5 days. Mine is, for now, a small home-based operation. I have begun to prepare for an expansion into a dedicated space, and for this purpose I purchased a universal-style conche-refiner rated for 45kg every 18 hours. Quite a jump in production! I've had samples from this machine and was unable to tell the difference (in texture or flavor) between a melangeur-refined chocolate and the stuff from the universal.

My opinion is that, more than the equipment, the personal philosophy of the chocolatier is the important aspect of artisan chocolate making. My personal decision was based more on production capacity and energy usage rather than price alone, although the universals will always be much pricier than stone melangeurs.
i agree with you. the universal makes fantastic chocolate so does a ball mill and so does a 3 roll mill plus refiner like Bernachon. all valid options you just have to know what you are doing and what you want to do.
Based on our experience selling melanguers/conchers, Artisan chocolatiers mainly look for equipment with two objectives.  They want to have control over the process to control their product characteristics.  Secondly, they want to show off their passion to their customers and create an experience.  At this time point, stone wheel grinders are the only cost effective means for Artisan chocolatiers.


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