Selecting the right machine
Hey everyone! I'm hoping someone might help check my thinking on tempering machines before I make the jump into a larger scale production.
I've been in business at a very small scale for 6 years making chocolate by hand. I currently use a premier stone grinder, a kitchenaid mixer outfitted with a precise heat mixing bowl and temper on a granite slab. I individually ladle each bar into polycarbonate molds resting on a scale. Ladling is my primary bottleneck for production efficiency, followed by batch size constraints in my little kitchenaid setup.
I am currently looking at:
Selmi color ex or plus ex
FBM Prima or Compatta
Pomatti t8 or t10
Any of these machines would meet my batch size needs and should significantly increase moulding efficiency due to the depositing head and vibrating table.
As far as I can tell, all of these machines have a removable screw that will allow me to quickly change between flavors. I don't need to run multiple flavors in the same day, but I do use some unusual ingredients like cordyceps mushrooms or strong flavors like coffee that I would like to minimize cross-contamination between batches.
My questions are:
Do these seem like the right machines to be considering, or am I missing some?
How important is the removable screw? Would I be just as fine going with something more affordable like the selmi one or legend that is more difficult to switch between batches?
Are there significant differences between what the three brands offer? It seems like folks really have a lot of preferences, but these machines seem pretty similar to an inexperienced user.
Is there a good system for emptying the stone grinder into the tempering machine? With my 10lb stone grinder I find the tilt to be insufficient for pouring off the chocolate - so much is left in the machine even after using a spatula. (To that end, you continuously run your stone grinders or do you empty and clean between batches?)
I do hope to find used equipment and would also appreciate any leads on where to find good used equipment in addition to the classifieds section of this site.
Thanks so much!