Kakao Ra

Ball mill or concher
Just ordered the Grindgo from FBM and have been deciding to get another melanger but started reading about the ball mills like their Taokid and Kleego 50. Is it better to go right from the Grindgo to a ball mill or concher, or does it have to run through a melanger first? Any better results? I have seen some go right to a concher and others to a ball mill.

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Kakao Ra
Kakao Ra

Thanks Clay!



@Kakao Ra – There are several options here but first it's important to get some terminology right. A melanger is NOT a concher. Melangers are refiners that inefficiently perform some parts of the conching process. With that out of the way ...

The GrindGo is what is called a pre-refiner or pre-grinder. A pre-grinder converts nibs into a coarse liquor – I don't know the exact particle size distribution coming out of the GrindGo, but it's large and definitely noticeable on the tongue, but you are probably going to want to add sugar anyway so the exact particle size distribution of the liquor is less important than the particle size of the sugar.

A Kleego does not perform any refining (I should know, I helped design it and it is named after me). It is a true conche that focuses on flavor and texture development. So, unless you want to produce a traditional Modican-style rough chocolate, you don't want to go from the GrindGo directly into the Kleego.

That leaves two basic production paths to transform the output of the GrindGo into smooth chocolate.

  1. A ball mill like the TaoKid will convert a batch of liquor and sugar into finished chocolate in a matter of a few hours at most. A lot depends on the percentage of sugar in the recipe and the size of the sugar crystals. However, because of the short amount of time processing in a ball mill takes, there is no real opportunity for flavor-development (evaporating off volatile aromatics like acetic cad), in part because the temperatures don't get high enough. So, you'd want to go from the ball mill into a conche like the Kleego (which does its magic in 2 hours or less), which will also perform texture development which includes breaking apart clumps of particles and ensuring the entire surface of every particle is covered with fat.

  2. A melanger (like the Rumbo Kid or CocoaTown or DCM or Spectra/Santha) can perform both particle size reduction (refining) and conching to some extent, but the process takes at least 24 hours even using liquor from the GrindGo because it is the sugar that takes the most time to refine. (You can improve the flavor development aspect of the conching ability of a melanger by finding a way to increase the heat and improving air exchange. In this regard the Rumbo has built-in hot air and you can find a way to improve air exchange. DCM melangers have other advantages and are less expensive. Using a melanger and a pre-refiner you can get the time in a melanger to 24-36 hours to complete refining, maybe another 24 hours for flavor development. Efficient texture development requires using a different kind of shear force than the tiny patch of granite/granite contact in a melanger.

  • The GrindGo into a melanger is cheaper but will take longer.
  • The GrindGo into a ball mill is more expensive but is faster.
  • Conching in a melanger can take (a lot of) extra time (the Rumbo is the hardest of the melangers I mentioned to clean).
  • Conching in a Kleego is the fastest and most complete option (giving you digital control over all of the parameters), but it involves an extra transfer step out of the melanger or ball mill, and the extra machine drives up CapEx. However, adding a Kleego into the mix gives you the greatest creative flexibility and control – plus it can also be used as a melter to feed a continuous tempering machine or for any other purpose.

Hope this helps!