Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques
At that size, you probably want to take a look at a Chocovision X3210 or Delta with a holey baffle. With the holey baffle, you can do up to 17 lbs.
Hi Miguel. There's several discussions here on the Chocolate Life that may be of help to you. Here are a couple of them:
Try searching for 'summer market' or 'outdoor market' or similar.
Hope this helps!
Hi Journey. The only thing that I know of between the 10lb models (CocoaTown or Santha) and the 40+ lb models is the Santha 20. If you're just looking at another smaller machine, there's also the Premiere Wonder Grinder, but it's smaller. I use it for small test batches. Others somehow use it for 8 lbs or more, but the chocolate has spilled through the center shaft every time I've gone over 4 or 5 lbs.
Regarding the belts, I'm surprised yours last 5 months! When I used the provided belts in either a CocoaTown or a Santha, they always broke within a month. The last one (on my Santha 40) broke after 3 batches. Basically, the provided belts are terrible. I believe it was Brad Churchill who first made the suggestion on this and the Chocolate Alchemy forum to replace the original belts with a PowerTwist fiberglass link belt. I've done that on all of my machines and have never had a belt break or need adjusting. I believe the smaller machines use 3/8" belts, while the larger machines use 5/8".
I've also heard from another maker who is using a VCM for pre-grinding in production. At some point, I'd love to upgrade to one for the larger bowl size.
Googling confirms that the original Cuisinarts were manufactured by Robot Coupe. Not so much that they stopped working together so Cuisinart could build in some plannedobsolescence.
Several of the reviews for the model I bought claimed that they had owned and abused it for many years. We'll see how it holds up to chocolate making...
I've recently purchased a 20-cup Cuisinart food processor. The motor specs are roughly comparable to the Robot Coupe I was looking at, but it has a larger capacity and is less expensive. It also has overheating protection to avoid burning out the motor.
I used it for the first time over the weekend on a small (approx. 1.5 kilo) test batch. It easily pre-ground the nibs to a gritty, but runny, liquor in about 5 minutes.
Afterwards, the motor housing was cool to the touch. It has an internal fan for the motor and the air blowing out of the vents never noticeably warmed.
I will be doing some more tests to figure out a few things. I imagine that theres a point of diminishing returns, where it no longer makes sense to keep running the liquor in the food processor.
I never replaced the grinding plates, but have spoken with another chocolate maker who used a new PN2 version. Their results were similar to mine.
For most of the time I've been making chocolate, I've just put the nibs straight into the melanger. The belts that come in the melangers are basically terrible. They almost always break and need to be replaced. I replaced mine with power-twist fiberglass link belts, as recommended in several posts here on TCL and on the Chocolate Alchemy forums, and have not had a problem with them since. Also, warming the bowl, roller stones and nibs helps a lot.
I was using the PN1 version, which was the older version of the PN2 you linked to. I got it used, but it went for over $2k new.
I tried, but wasn't able to effectively feed the paste through the grinder again.
I'm not sure what brand of food processor it was. Sorry.
Sorry, just noticed that you referenced the youtube video in your original post. Not sure how I missed that...
I've used the Olde Tyme Peanut Butter Grinder in the past. The results were about the same as shown in the Wondermill video, although much faster.
The only thing that I've tried that actually made liquor--as opposed to a thick paste--was a food processor. It worked really well until I burnt up the motor. In another thread here, Clay mentions Vertical Cutter Mixers (VCMs) for pregrinding. They're basically just big, heavy-duty food processors.
I've also thought about using a grain mill like are used for beer brewing. One I've looked at is one of the Monster Mills, which are adjustable from0 to .065" according to their site:
I've used various glues as well as a couple different 'glue tape' type things. The best I've found so far is the Scotch Tape Glider:
The applicator is very handy when doing a lot of wrappers, and the tape is less expensive than any of the others I've tried.
$25,000 is a lot more expensive than existing melangers from CocoaTown and Santha--around 5 times as expensive. I'd say that qualifies as pricey.
From the videos on your youtube account, your melanger looks is impressive. The motorized stone lifting and bowl tilting are very handy, but I'm not sure they're worth $20k.
Can you give more information on why it is so much more than its competitors and discuss what improvements you've made?
Also, and forgive me if this is already on the Chocolate Life somewhere, but what is the capacity of your melanger?
Larry: I think Trula has already decided to go with one of the larger Chocolvisions, so isn't looking for comparisons to other machines. I think she's just looking for comparisons between the Delta and the x3210.
Trula: I've only used the x3210, because I decided that (for me and my process) the extra features of the Delta wouldn't be worth it. Since I'm bean-to-bar and only need to temper a few different types of chocolate, I didn't need the extended temper mode, or the ability to store a bunch of different recipes. If you're making truffles or chocolate-dipped items usingvarious couvetures, those features may be more useful to you.
This looks like the ECGC-SS mini-grindeur from cocoatown. Andal from cocoatown mention it in this old thread:
I've seen one in person at a couple events where they were using it to show what their larger grinduers looked like. It appears to use the same bowl and conical stones as the older model of their melangers, which were a little larger than the current model. I'm not sure if they ever got into real production on them. The one in the video looks like it may be a demo unit, since it has a cocoatown sticker on it showing several of their products.
Hi James. Larry's right. You don't necessarily have to use seed chocolate in the x3210 or Delta, but it does make things go a lot quicker. When I do test batches, I just melt to 108, cool to 82 or 83 and then warm to 89 or 90. I'll usually let it run at 89 or 90 for 10 minutes or so to make sure that it's all the same temperature. After that, I'll test and it's usually in temper at that point. If not, I'll just let it run for a few more minutes.
The cylindrical stones of the spectra or premiere wonder grinder do seem to accept the nib a little easier than the cocoatown's conical stones. That being said, I used Cocoa Towns for several years with no problem.
Thomas: I'd highly recommend replacing the CocoaTown's belt with the fiberglass link belt. It's so much better than the stock one. I never had a problem with the belts in my CocoaTowns in the years I used them.
You can skip pre-grinding on any of the melangers that are discussed here and on Chocolate Alchemy. The key is to add the nibs slowly to the melanger. Also, heat helps the process. You can prewarm the nibs, and the bowl and roller stones, or just use a heat gun for a while when adding the nibs.
When first starting out with making chocolate as a hobby, I used a food processor with a similar blade arrangement to a VCM to pregrind nibs into liquor. It worked pretty well until I burned up the motor.
I tried a different food processor, but it only could get the nib to a powdery state. I looked into a Robot Coupe, but decided they were too expensive at the time.
Yep, the newer model is the PN2.
Agreed on the Olde Tyme Peanut grinders having issues with lower-fat beans. I have an older model that would occasionally trip the breaker if I fed it too quickly. I've spoken with another maker who has the newer model, and they say it does much better in that regard.
I'd definitely be interested in learning more about any other options out there.
Hi Madeleine. One option is an olde tyme peanut butter grinder. I used one for a while, and know of some others who use them, too. These days, though, I skip the pregrinding step and just put the nib straight into the melanger.
This device was targeted at brick & mortar retail locations. I just looked into it and it looks like it doesn't really take multiple stores into consideration. All of the sales would probably just show up in the same account with no differentiation.
Side note: Square works on Android too.
Someone recently mentioned to me that they have some sort of square in-store device so they can take advantage of square's low fees. While not an answer to your original question, it may be worth looking into as a way to lessen the difference between cards & cash.
Hi David. Thanks for your video and input on this thread.
I was thinking of adding some pvc below the DD to extend the funnel a bit. The BC winnower has long tubes under each funnel, and you can see husk being sucked up through the left one.
I'd use an unmodified DD as the second stage to capture everything that was removed from the first one.
Have you tried adjusting the strength of the vacuum? I was thinking of adding a valve between the first and second DDs that would allow the airflow to be reduced. Is this what the valve to control the total flow that you mention would do? Or would that be on the inlet side (where the cracked beans enter)?
If I build one, I plan to use the champion to crack and feed the beans as I do with my current winnower.
One issue I see is that you can't see the winnowed nibs without lifting the lid.
Lastly, what about adding a third DD? The first would be tuned to do the first winnowing pass, the second would be tuned to capture the nibs that the first DD sucked up, and the third would be the unmodified DD to capture the husks before they enter the vacuum. This may be more effort than it's worth, but I really need something that will work in one pass.
I had forgotten all about that video.Thanks for posting it!
So it looks like the DD can be made to winnow by allowing airflow up through the bottom of the cyclone and adjusting the vacuum pressure. In the video, he had to run the cracked beans through the winnower three times, but hopefully it could be tuned to work in one pass.
Some beans crack & winnow better than others. For the others, I use this 1/4" gold sifting pan:
I put it on the bucket that the winnower feeds into to catch too-big pieces. It works great.
Thanks Clay. Very interesting information. I currently use a dust deputy to collect the shells in a bucket between my winnower and shop vac.
From your comment, it sounds like the main problems with the vortex design are similar to most winnowers, specifically how to handle differently sized nibs & shell efficiently. It doesn't sound like the actual vortex separation aspect is the problem--the problem actually being one of feeding a consistent size to the winnower.*
If that's the case, it should be possible to modify a dust deputy to achieve a different separation than it currently achieves. My first thoughts on how to do this would be
The two valves would be somewhat similar in function to the Chocolate Alchemist design that I use.
I'm definitely interested in messing around with this. I have an absurdly small 'factory', so space is always at a premium. A winnower that could fit under a table would be incredibly useful for me.
*I use a Champion juicer for cracking and have been pretty happy with the size consistency of the nibs that it produces. But the problem could also be solved as you say with post-cracking classification by size.
After posting yesterday, I started thinking that it wouldn't be too hard to test different lengths and/or widths of tube by cutting out the existing tube and replacing it with PVC.
You should post what you've done so far in the new DIY forum:http://www.thechocolatelife.com/group/diy
Here is the picture of my winnower that Clement is referring to:
The Dust Deputy just collects the winnowed husk, though. It doesn't do any actual winnowing. Its intended use is as a dust collector, so it is designed to capture as much as possible in the bucket. It would need to be modified somehow to suck the lighter husks out of the vortex while letting the heavier nib drop.
A while ago (after seeing the Brookly Cacao winnower: http://brooklyncacao.com/machines/vortexWinnower.html), I was thinking about trying this, but never got around to it.
I think the only machine that approaches your requirements and price is the ACMC tempering machine which is about $800 and can do 6 lbs/3 kg. You may be better off with one of the Chocovisions (x3210 or delta) though. They're more expensive, but can do 10 lbs with the standard baffle and 17 lbs with the holey baffle. Also, there have been several comments on this forum and on Chocolate Alchemy about problems with the ACMC.
I use thermoformed molds for my bars and usually get these marks, too. But, I have had times where the marks were either very small or nonexistent. I haven't been able to figure out the exact process to minimize or eliminate the marks, but it seems to be a combination of well (perfectly?) tempered chocolate, warmed molds and good cooling.
I'd be interested to see if Larry's idea of reducing the molds' ability to flex would help, too.
Since the epoxy would be on the back of the mold--not touching the chocolate--would it actually need to be food-safe epoxy? That being said, I believe there are lots of inexpensive epoxies/glues that are food safe after curing--J-B Weld and Gorilla Glue both are, for example.
You'll need to change the way you control airflow, though. My thinking was to replicate what I'm doing with my winnower, and use a pvc ball valve. So, I would hook a PVC "T" connector to the husk output of the zigzag winnower. One side would go to the dust deputy and the other would point straight up and go to a ball valve. By adjusting the valve, you'd control the airflow through the winnower.