Selecting the right machine

chocolatesteven

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!
Steven

Comments (5)
No. 1-5
Gintamo
Gintamo

I think you should take a look at Pomatti after all. It looks good to me, especially 8. Well, it's better to go to a pro for real advice. They will give you a more accurate hint than random guys from the forum. Take the same https://totallychocolate.com/ They are good at it.

Silverchild
Silverchild

Clay I'm interested in that machine. I'm in Portland Maine.

chocolatesteven
chocolatesteven

One other piece of information I forgot to mention is that for my dark chocolate recipes I prefer to add a small amount of sugar into the chocolate after refining it to add a little texture. The total unprocessed sugar is about 8% of the recipe, but could act like an inclusion while it runs through the machine.

I am open to running larger batches because I want to scale my business up significantly, but the option to continue with small batch size in the meantime is certainly appealing. I expect that I will also be investing in a larger stone grinder as I scale up - the question is when. If I went with one of the listed machines it sounds like I'll need to get a larger stone grinder immediately vs sticking with the 10lb grinder for now while starting off with a machine like you're mentioning Clay.

Thanks!

chocolatesteven
chocolatesteven

Thanks Clay! That's all very helpful information. I'm in Durham, NC and would definitely like to be in touch with a dealer.

DiscoverChoc
DiscoverChoc

Editor

Steven -

After a decade or so working with (and selling some of) the machines I can tell you that while the augers of these machines may be easy to remove, cleaning them is another matter entirely. Furthermore you have to ensure the innards are completely dry before reassembling them. This makes changing flavors in the same working day problematic.

No matter what the makers will say. It's not easy. Or quick. It can be done, but you will quickly grow to hate having to do it.

Another issue you will find is that the quantities you're talking about don't really work well in these machines when it comes to keeping temper and consistent dosing. There are a lot of technical reasons for this but they have to with the basics of how these machines work and where the temperature sensors are located.

Machines with smaller capacity working bowls (e.g., the FBM Aura) are actually a better fit for the quantities you're talking about but I can tell you from personal experience that pulling an Aura apart to clean the auger assembly is not something you want to be doing on a regular basis.

Don't despair, though!

Even giving the small quantities you're talking about there is an auger-based tempering machine from a very reputable manufacturer that can be had for around $7500 (depending on the exchange rate) new, ex-works.

For that amount you get a timed depositor, a depositing head that will handle thicker chocolates, a heated vibrating table, and a tempering machine with a working bowl capacity of 20kg but that can maintain temper down to about 3kg in the bowl. Furthermore, because of the way it's constructed it will be relatively easy to clean. However, you will want to temper and deposit several 10lb batches at a time to keep you from going crazy.

Unfortunately I don't have an answer for a solution to make it simple to empty your grinder into the tempering machine.

Where is your workshop located so I can point you to a dealer or directly to the company to learn more?

Clay