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