Hello All, Chocolate newbie here. I am looking to start a small-mid scale chocolate making business in Ghana & trying to source machinery at the moment. This is no small feat as we have virtually no companies making or selling equipment here. My question is this: I initially planned on importing several smaller sized melangeurs from the US and the scaling up in future. After intensive research, especially a lot of reading on this site I’m not sure that’s the best option. I have however managed to find a local engineer who is able to custom make a ball mill. It will definitely be a bit pricey and also much larger capacity than I initially intended to start with. What are your thoughts please? Is it a good idea to start with a relatively large ball mill or should I stick to importing the smaller melangeurs. Thanks in advance!
Agreed on being careful which company you buy from. I had a nightmare working with Nantong Twinkle Machinery, although I’m happy enough with the machine now.
I didn’t recommend the source in Canada because I thought he was North America only, but if not, go with him.
I want to agree with Ben here.
If I were in your position I would look at small universals (40 liter batch capacity) to start. These will grind, refine, and conche (properly) in the same device. With a ball mill you will need a separate conche. (Melangeurs are inefficient conches.) The nice thing is you can go from a 40L universal to a 500L universal and the adjustments are minor. If you start in small melangeurs and then go to a ball mill you have to change a lot about your processes.
You do have to be careful about which Chinese companies you by from. I have a trusted source in Canada who can arrange for the purchase and delivery of the machines. A 40L machine is about US$6500 before shipping (3-phase power). It will have about the same throughput as a 65L bowl capacity melangeur. One difference is the need for a source of water for temperature management.
Thank you! I wasn’t sure if conching was essential when using a ball mill. Thanks for clearing that up, definitely gives me more to think about as the cost of both a ball mill & conche may be out of my budget. I’m going to look into the universal conche refiner. Any brands in particular you could recommend? Thanks again!
One thing to consider is that chocolate refined in a ball mill will need to be conched afterwards. Chocolate made in a small stone grinder does not necessarily need a separate conching step (although it certainly can be conched separately, too).
Another option to look at is a universal conche refiner. These are available from producers in Europe and China. As the name says, they can refine and conche and I’ve found them to be more efficient than stone grinders as well as giving me more control over the two processes.