cacao cucina

Jessica Conrad
@jessica-conrad
05/24/11 09:41:41AM
20 posts

Anyone able to offer reviews/have personal experience with their equipment (any item of it?)

While I'm not looking to get into bean-bar right now, I stumbled across their site the other day and thought "This looks too good to be true". So is it?


updated by @jessica-conrad: 04/10/15 11:33:18PM
Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
05/24/11 11:48:52AM
527 posts

Based on my personal experience with equipment in the chocolate industry, the quotes I've received from them (their company is to the best of my knowledge a spin-off from "Bottom Line Processing Technologies" in Florida), and the equipment that I currently use to make several hundred pounds of chocolate per week, their prices are outrageous for the capacities their creations can produce.

...but that's just my opinion.

Cheers.

Brad

Harry Way
@harry-way
05/25/11 10:54:09PM
6 posts

Just curious Brad, what do you consider outrageous pricing? You make several hundred pounds of chocolate per week, what do you charge for that chocolate? $10/Lb? and it costs you what, about $4/lb to make it? I seem to recall you made a similar statement about the NETZSCH ChocoEasy. Yes it's expensive, really expensive, but it's worth it. Is your chocolate worth it? I don't know, never tasted it, but I bet it has a metallic taste based on what you've described in other posts.

I keep reading and hearing about people using this cheap equipment and having to work on it constantly. What's that worth? I've been to BLT, they are good people, and in my opinion, their equipment is more geared in quality and therefore pricing towards the large food companies for R&D, pretty much like our equipment. Our equipment is scaled down for R&D and then the larger production machines are actually very much competitively priced against the traditional conches and roll refiners.

Jessica - you should take a look at that equipment, don't be put off by one bad review. You might want to take a look at our equipment as well, although we don't have roasting, there's too many on the market. Cracking and winnowing however seems to be a real need in the market for a machine, Cacao Cucina has one that works, but it is relatively expensive.

www.chocoeasy.com

And the above is just my opinion

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
05/26/11 03:41:43AM
527 posts

Harry;

You're partially correct. There IS a lot of poorly constructed equipment thatartisans are using to make chocolate. Most of it is originally designed to mash soft beans and other pastes for East Indian food. The belts fail, and the granite rollers are antiquated. (such as Santha and other similar models)

Roasting: "too many on the market" Really? Where can I get a roaster that will do about 40lbs of beans per batch for a reasonable price? Nowhere that I could find when I was researching my business. Oh.... wait! Cooking ANYTHING is about heat and air flow! Hey! A commercial convection oven for $3500 NEW does about 40lbs of beans per hour, 320lbs per 8 hours, 960lbs per 24 hours, is STACKABLE, so you can easily double this amount androast as much as 1920lbs of beans per 24 hour period. According to my calculation, for less than $9,000 one can implement a roasting solution which will allow a company to produce the following amount of 70% chocolate per day based on a 55% bean content recipe:

1920 * 0.8 /0.55 = 2792.7 lbs per day X $40 per lb = $111,708 per day in gross sales.

I actually charge MORE than $40 per lb for my chocolate - more like $55-60, and have been told by industry professionals with a lot more credentials than you Harry, that I should be charging more, as it's some of the finest chocolate they have ever tasted.

I've repeated this on many other posts: "Why buy a redundant, single use piece of equipment such as a modified coffee bean roaster (which is what a cocoa bean drum roaster is anyway and that's coming right from the mouths of the people at Probat Burns!) when you can buy a convection oven, and perform many tasksas well as roast beans.

Winnowing: A definite MUST HAVE to make chocolate, and currently the largest hole in the artisan marketplace. I own both a home made winnower, AND a large Jabez-Burns Cracker/Fanner, purchased from an auction last fall. My home made winnower cost me $1,000 in parts and an afternoon of work and easily (and effectively) winnows about 130lbs of nibs per hour. My Jabez Burns is spec'd to crack and fan (winnow) about 200lbs of beans per hour and cost much more.

Refining: Why spend $75,000 on a fancy rollrefiner (such as Netsch) whenit won't accept nibs? Yes, that's right.TheNetschrefiner needs to have the nibs pre milled into a paste. At least that's what the techs said when I was inquiring into the chocoeasy machine. Heck, even a MacIntyre conche/refinerat $30,000 will take ALL the ingredients (nibs, sugar,vanilla beans)and refine and conche it just fine without the need for a mill of any type.

If you look around, you can even find MacIntyre knock-off's for much cheaper (like, say... $8,000 per machine), which will work just fine 24/7 for a couple of years before needing maintenance.

Now you know whychocoeasy doesn't deal with winnowers or roasters : their machines are designed to accept liquor/paste, and NOT nibs.

So... Now the secret's out. A person can buy a convection "roaster" for $4500, build a winnower for $1,000, purchase a couple of MacIntyre knock-off's for $16,000 and be making about 150lbs of world class chocolate per day.

Total: $21,500.00

None of this is my opinion. All of this is my reality.

Mark Allan
@mark-allan
03/09/14 11:49:24AM
47 posts

We run an orphanage in Honduras. Incidentally, Hondurans grows cocoa. For this reason I am investigating chocolate production as a fund raiser and as an industry to employ people in a country with 50% unemployment/under-employment. Cocoa Cucina was probably the first site I found that offered everything you needed for smaller scale chocolate production. Unfortunately, buying everything required to bean2bar was quoted at just over $100K.

So for now we are just experimenting with the homemade path, which I like to call "R&D". :-) We roast in the oven. We use the local method of winnowing beans, which is to pour them out in front of a fan, into a large bowl. Then we use the Champion juicer to make the liqueur, followed by a wet grinder for about day, finally tempering in a Kitchenaid stand mixer with a lamp near by to keep it from cooling too much before molding.

Best I can tell, the Cocoa Cucina equipment is for someone who knows well more than I do, is already making good chocolate, but needs to take it to the next level, and willing to stake a good portion of their life's savings on it. I speculate that the CC equipment is about the right size for a downtown chocolate shop, selling at pretty steep price.

Mark Allan
@mark-allan
04/11/14 01:45:13PM
47 posts

A little update on the tempering. We use the method from Chocolate Alchemy's site, to temper in the wet grinder. It's easier to control the temperature in there, and no additional investment is required.

I am waiting on a $300 machine from China, which slowly renders cocoa butter but far more capacity than we need at the moment. It will supposedly extract 1-2 kg per hour. We'll see. It's a pretty simple design so I'm hoping it's durable.

Jessica Conrad
@jessica-conrad
04/26/14 02:30:33PM
20 posts

I'd be interested to hear updates as you move along Mark!

Clay Gordon
@clay
04/29/14 11:45:51AM
1,680 posts

Mark:

If you have a link to the cocoa butter press I'd be very interested in seeing it.




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clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Clay Gordon
@clay
04/29/14 11:52:56AM
1,680 posts

Jessica -

It's been about 3 years since you started this thread, where are you on your journey?

There are some reasons to like the CC equipment here in the US - one of the most compelling is that it's UL and NSF certified (which has added to the cost). That said, as Brad and others have pointed out, the equipment is expensive for the throughput it provides (the possible exception is the Win45 winnower).

Mark says that he was quoted over US$100,000 for his system, and I would really like to know what CC is saying is the daily maximum throughput for that price.

It is possible to put together a system (without a cocoa butter press but including a tempering machine) capable of producing up to 100kg per day for under US$50,000. I don't know that I'd want to spend less than this (though many people do - the tradeoff being more labor).




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clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Mark Allan
@mark-allan
04/29/14 01:26:48PM
47 posts

Hi Clay,

I think the machine will show up in the next week. I live in Honduras, so I had to ship it to Miami, at a company that only ships to Honduras. There is no national postal system here. Anyway, the link is:

http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/High-quality-DL-ZYJ02-Traditional-mini_1341961132.html

I will be sure to review this machine as soon as I see how it performs. It presses oils from other seeds also. It looks like a drill bit that crushes things inside a cylinder. So rather than spending $27K on Cacao Cucina's press that will render a liter of butter in a few minutes, I am hoping this machine will plod along along give the 1-2L per hour that the sales person stated it would. If it even gives me 5L/day, that would be far more than I could use at the moment.

Mark Allan
@mark-allan
04/29/14 01:32:00PM
47 posts

Yes, $100K is well out of my current commitment level and means. We run a little orphanage in Honduras and I am just trying to start a small business that our older boys can start a career with.

Gap
@gap
04/29/14 05:33:22PM
182 posts

Mark,

I would love to hear how the machine works out - seems interesting in that price range.

Mark Allan
@mark-allan
04/29/14 05:55:10PM
47 posts

Where we live, it definitely makes sense to invest in a butter press, even if it's just the econo-solution that I am trying. Cocoa beans are cheaper in Honduras and cocoa butter isn't readily available here.

In the "1st world", it might make sense to just let someone else press the butter because importing the beans and pressing them yourself might be more costly.

I will be sure and tell everyone here. If I haven't posted in month, somebody reply to this and I'll get an email reminder.

Jessica Conrad
@jessica-conrad
05/03/14 02:01:54PM
20 posts

Clay - Currently I'm working in R&D for a Belgian Chocolate company. The position affords me a view over processes that have remained quite artisanal for the company as well as ones that have become more mechanized. It has been nothing if not interesting!

Mark Allan
@mark-allan
05/13/14 06:20:41PM
47 posts

Hi Clay,

Well, I finally got the machine today, and I felt like a kid opening a candy store, before I even opened it. The company actually delivered it within a week, but it had to go to another shipping company that ships to Honduras and handles customs. That second step took four weeks.

My initial observations:

The machine does in fact press out cocoa butter.

The cocoa butter is not free of solids as it is brown, although completely liquid. Unless you plan on selling the cocoa butter rather than using it to make chocolate, this should not be an issue.

I am going to enhance the feed hopper by putting small rectangular walls on top of it, perhaps made of wood. Otherwise it's a full time job keeping it fed.

The solid is expressed out the front in hollow tubes that break off due to stress when it reaches 6+ inches. The tubes can easily be crushed into cocoa powder. I am eager to try this but there's a meeting going on in my house that I would disrupt. Reselling the cocoa powder is a crucial factor in reducing my costs. There is a good market for this in Honduras as Hershey's powder is about $11/pound locally and people have few phobias about buying outside of the big name brands.

The machine looks pretty solid. When I turn off the motor, the shaft takes 10-15 seconds to spin down to a stop, which is usually a good sign that you have some solid gears in the box. My 30 year old Hobart meat grinder and KitchenAid mixer do the same. Many of my lesser machines do not. Based on this, I am hoping that it will give me years of service.

I was able to express over a pound of cocoa butter in less than an hour, maybe 30 minutes. I am eager to go weigh the butter versus the solid to see my yield, also crucial to costs.

I need to build some kind of container to catch the cocoa solids, which are bulky because of the hollow, spiral shaped tubes that are produced. With this and a feed hopper enhancement, this machine could batch 5-10 pounds of cocoa nibs, hands free. It would probably handle about that much per hour.

Initial impression is that if you are looking for an economical machine to press out cocoa butter, this $200 machine is hard to beat. It's definitely less of a commitment than the $26K Cacao Cucina butter press.

Will update later on the yield etc.

Mark Allan
@mark-allan
05/13/14 08:09:41PM
47 posts

The final note on my first use of the machine. The machine did in fact yield 50% cocoa butter, by weight. Also, the cocoa solid easily ground up, in my coffee grinder, into powder. My son took some of the powder to make hot cocoa and gave it a thumbs up. I took some, made an 80/20 sugar/cocoa mix with a little lecithin and stirred it into some milk. That also worked.

I know I'm not on the same level, quality wise, with you artisans, but I am excited about the bean to bar possibilities on a budget. :-)

Clay Gordon
@clay
05/13/14 08:37:51PM
1,680 posts

Mark -

When you get a chance, a video of the machine in operation would be fun to see, also a photo of whatever hoper design you put together. I wonder if you can make a simple hopper from a 5-liter water bottle?

This is great news for small craft producers.

A 35 kilo batch of 70% chocolate at 10% added cocoa butter is what ... about 2-3 kilos? This could easily be done in short order it sounds like.

Real, single-origin chocolate ... where the butter is from the same origin as the beans ... on a budget.




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clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Tom
@tom
05/13/14 11:20:28PM
205 posts

I think I found a vid Clay at this address:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCCxeODNTK4

Looks like an automated screw expeller, like the hand worked Piteba one. I bought one of these and had no luck in getting cocoa butter out of it. However Bob Rankin also had a Piteba and was getting it to work but he died before he got around to helping me tweak what I was doing to get it to work. Just wondering what options are available in the automated version for speed and aperture for the solid and liquid output. These things need to be adjusted as the system warms up too (with the Piteba).

Found some instructions for use.

Looks like heating is controlled by thermostat for expelling the solid which is good as I found the end of the Piteba sometimes cooled down and this stopped the cocoa solid from coming out.

Mark Allan
@mark-allan
05/14/14 10:48:24AM
47 posts

Yes, Tom's video shows the same type extractor I have. It does have a separate switch for the heating element, which you need to turn on 3-6 minutes before you start the press.

The cocoa I used was already roasted, cracked and winnowed, because I want to grind the solid into powder, which worked well. To be honest, the cocoa powder is something I can market right away, whereas I need to improve my chocolate making skills and process before selling any of that.

Thomas Forbes
@thomas-forbes
05/14/14 11:38:21AM
102 posts

It is very expensive for what you can produce.

Clay Gordon
@clay
05/14/14 12:24:40PM
1,680 posts

Tom:

What is very expensive for what you can produce? Cacao Cucina? We've moved off of the original topic of this post.




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clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/

updated by @clay: 09/08/15 09:27:03PM
Michael Ervin
@michael-ervin
06/02/14 03:37:55PM
3 posts

Hey Mark,

Many thanks for pointing us in this direction. I now too have one of these machines but I am having a hard time operating it. After receiving it, sanitizing it and putting it together per the instructions, I was excited to put the first batch of nibs through.

Just when it appears to start working (ie cocoa butter is coming out and the first cylinder of cocoa powder is coming out the end), the machine seems to overload and then shut down.

At first I thought perhaps the heating element hadn't run long enough to keep it going. So, I cleaned it out and let the unit heat up for an entire hour prior to using it.

It went a little better the second time, but again stopped after about 60 seconds of operation.

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Michael Ervin
@michael-ervin
06/02/14 06:00:47PM
3 posts

Ah... I see. Needed to use the 110v->220v converter that came with it. It was not running full power. Ha!

Mark Allan
@mark-allan
06/02/14 08:09:20PM
47 posts

Use of the 110V to 220V transformer is important. :-)

I did have the machine shut down on me once also. I'm not sure what happened, but I also removed and cleaned the drill bit and it started working again.

You are going to notice that if you run enough nibs through the machine that butter will spurt out in every direction, within the housing. I just make sure the housing is clean before using and scrape it down with a spatula, saving the butter that did not make into the pan. Other thing I do is try to line the pan with foil that runs up the sides of the housing so it will be more apt to drip into the pan. Still, some will drip out.

One other thing I do to speed things along...Don't use that little reducer tray for the nibs. Keep the opening large. To do that you will need to raise up the mechanical housing. I do that with some small pieces of 2x4" lumber. This will let the housing for the butter pan drop all the way onto the drill bit feed so that no nibs will fall around the opening. Without that reducer tray, I have to refill the the hopper every minute or so. With the reducer, it takes much longer and I have to manually shove nibs around.

Michael Ervin
@michael-ervin
06/09/14 02:02:59PM
3 posts

Hi Mark,

I've now gone through a full batch test with some clean Dominican I roasted and winnowed. I rigged up a hopper and pulled off the bottom so that I could process in bulk.

The full batch was about 20 lbs of nibs that took a few hours to process. At the end, my final numbers were 25% solids removed vs the 50/50 split you seemed to get.

Was there anything special you did to get the yields so high?

Mark Allan
@mark-allan
06/09/14 04:19:36PM
47 posts

Hi Michael,

I'm not sure. When I said 50/50, I might have been a little sloppy on the numbers. It's probably more like 60/40. One thing that does happen, is that the solids that come out the front end will fall into your butter pan at times. I don't have a permanent solution for that yet. For now I just shape some aluminum foil in various places to try and keep the solids going out. I also use foil to line the sides of the container so that the butter that shoots the wrong way will drop down into the pan. However, I still use a spatula to scrape off around 1/2 cup of butter from the housing.

I just keep telling myself that, while the Cacao Cucina solution is better, I have not had to commit $27K to this machine.

There is a research team at California Poly, led by Dr. Thomas Neuhaus, that is designing a low cost, lightweight butter press, which is powered with a 20 ton hand jack. It's still in progress, but their goal is to bring a low cost solution for expressing butter, so that they can help African cacao farmers earn more than commodity prices for cacao. The farmers will also be able to make their own chocolate and sell it to tourists.

Thanks,

Mark C.

Clay Gordon
@clay
06/09/14 04:43:40PM
1,680 posts

The butter press operated by a hydraulic jack has been around for a while. I saw my first one in Venezuela in 2006 and I recently met the guy who designed and fabricated them. Right now, the political situation in Venezuela makes it difficult to work with people there.

What you can't see here is that there is a tap hole drilled in the plate of the piston/plunger and there is a plastic tube attached to this tap hole. The cocoa butter is expressed through this hole. The plunger/plate is to the right of the press.

These are simple and relatively inexpensive to make and do not have any means to heat the pot that contains the cocoa liquor.




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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Mark Allan
@mark-allan
06/09/14 04:49:55PM
47 posts

Hi Clay,

Sorry, the main nuance that the research team is shooting for, is that the whole system be 40 lbs. or less, minus the jack, so that they can put it into a suitcase and take it with them on flights to Africa, in order to help the farmers directly.

I tried to get one of these jack systems built here in Honduras, but the simplest design would cost $450, and that was cast iron, not steel. When I did a little math, cast iron was woefully inadequate to reach pressures needed to get a good yield. So, I went with this $200 screw press solution, for now. It's not great, but it makes chocolate possible.

Thanks,

Mark C.

Mark Allan
@mark-allan
07/10/14 10:36:29AM
47 posts

Hey, a little update on this. The last time I extracted butter, I took a break to do something else, but left the heating element on. When I came back and resumed the extraction, the butter began coming out pretty much pure (the yellow, creamy color). Also, on this run, the butter did not splatter around the housing. It actually came out the way it should. So, long story short, be sure and run the heater a good 8-10 minutes before starting.

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