Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Selmi Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Making Equipment at Tomric Systems in Buffalo

Last week I enjoyed the most amazing chocolate maker's experience: I visited Tomric Systems in Buffalo, New York. Tomric is North America's only distributor of the Italian brand Selmi, which is a line-up of equipment for bean-to-bar chocolate-making.

 
As my business grows, I have been looking at the next steps in chocolate making, and I spent the day working with the Selmi equipment to see just how good it is at stepping up production capacity, while keeping in line with craft chocolate making.  Every piece of equipment worked perfectly together to achieve that goal, from roasting, to cracking and winnowing the cocoa beans, to pre-grinding. After grinding the beans, the Selmi ball mill refines the chocolate until it is smooth in less than 2 hours, then the conching begins - either with the continuous tempering machine or a separate conche, which Selmi has developed and is soon on its way to Tomric. At the end of it all, tempering and moulding chocolate bars is fantastically easy with the continuous tempering machine, enabling moulding between 60 and 120 bars per hour by hand.
 
The Selmi Roaster with  5kg of cocoa beans ready to roast.

The Selmi roaster roasts 6 kilos of chocolate at a time, with the ability to set your personal settings for each type of bean you work with: a light roast for that full-flavoured coveted bean and a dark roast for that bean that needs a fuller roast profile.


 
 
The Selmi Winnower.
 The Selmi winnower both cracks the beans and separates the husks from the bean pieces (nibs). It processes about 6 kilos in 10-15 minutes, quickly and efficiently. You can adjust the size of the pieces depending on the origin of the cocoa beans, since not all beans are the same. We needed to adjust the winnower one way for my Honduras beans and another quick adjustment worked great on my Mexico beans (which have stickier, heavier shells).
 
This is me. Watching the cocoa-grinding action.
 
The Selmi Grinder quickly pulverizes the cocoa nibs to a rough (gritty but wet) chocolate liquor. This liquor is then moved to the ball refiner where sugar and cocoa butter are added to make a dark chocolate, and milk and other ingredients like sunflower lecithin (if using) are added to make milk chocolate.

The Selmi Micron Ball Refiner uses small stainless steel balls to pulverize the chocolate.
A ball refiner does the same work as a stone grinder, only in less time. Although it does not aerate the chocolate the way a stone refiner does, the chocolate is then moved to the tempering machine or a conche to aerate and agitate it to remove any unwanted flavours.



The Selmi Ball Refiner (also called Ball Mill).


The chocolate then drains out of a spout from the ball refiner and goes immediately into the Selmi Virbo, which vibrates the chocolate through a sifter to remove the hard cocoa bean germ (it is like a little hard stem inside one end of the cocoa bean) and any husks that were remaining in the chocolate. This adds a consistent mouthfeel to the chocolate. It is surprising at how much grit the Vibro removes from the chocolate at this stage.
 
The Selmi Micron Ball Refiner drains from a spout into the Semi Vibro.
 
The Vibro collects and sifts any cocoa bean germ and
other gritty bits that might still be in the chocolate.
The Selmi Continuous Tempering Machine
The chocolate then moves to a Conche or to the Continuous tempering machine for overnight conching or immediate tempering (if you've chosen not to conche). Tempering is the most important part of the chocolate making process - without it the chocolate would not only be dull looking, but also streaked with white lines of cocoa butter and sugar bloom, and it would not hold together well. The continuous tempering machine does the work of hours and hours of hand-stirring, tempering over marble or ice. The tanks at Tomric fit 20kg, but Selmi makes machines that also fit 60kg.

Moulding chocolate bars is an easy task with this piece of equipment, and in order to do large quantities of chocolate bars, it is a must-have.  It not only can melt the chocolate, but then temper it, and keep it in a steady temper (if you treat the machine well). By hand and bowl method, with all the melting and tempering, I can currently mould 40 chocolate bars over the course of a morning. With a Selmi, I could more than quadruple that number in the same time-frame. Potentially I can mould over 800 chocolate bars a day.

Overall, this experience at Tomric Systems in Buffalo was amazing. I could truly see and compare where I am today, and where I can potentially get to with a line--up of great equipment with the Selmi brand. Also, Tomric provides all the support and services a chocolate maker needs to use any piece of equipment, whether they buy the whole line-up or just a piece at a time as they grow.

If you are looking to step up your bean-to-bar chocolate production, check out Tomric Systems and the Selmi line-up of equipment at: http://tomric.com/bean-to-bar/. They also have the moulds you need to make chocolate bars and every other kind of chocolate you could imagine. Follow them on Social Media (@TomricSystems) for more information on what they supply.


Chocolate in Buffalo
 
Also, Buffalo was a great city to visit. It had wonderful restaurants, and a variety of foods from around the world. And it also had The Chocolate Bar, which was a fun place to go for music, chocolate, dessert and wine. I enjoyed a chocolate mousse cake that was also part-crème-brulee, with the sugar topping fired up at my table.



The Chocolate Bar offered a wine flight with squares of dark chocolate.

The Chocolate Bar's chocolate mousse cake, with a Crème Brulee centre.

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