I have been reading so many tutorials and reference materials about chocolate making. Specifically grinding. What grinders are appropriate to use. How to grind. How fine the grind should be?
Take note: As of publishing this, there is no locally available grinder capable of reducing cocoa nibs down to acceptable particle size. Most merchants will offer coffee and corn grinder claiming it can grind very fine, even if it cannot.
There are several points to consider about this.
Technically. The right particle size is 30 to 50 microns. Some articles says it should be 20. At this size, the silky smooth chocolate texture manifest, which is very important to overall flavor.
So what happens when the size go out of range? Above 50, the grits can be sensed by tongue. Not good for delicate consumer taste buds. It may create clinging impression on throat in worse cases. Like a rough sand passing down.
It is not advisable to go down the lower limit either. There is what they call “overgrinding”. The cocoa liquor becomes too viscous and unmanageable. Almost impossible to temper and mold.
For quality, the range 30 to 50 microns is a strict requirement. Larger is gritty, smaller is gluey.
How can we accurately measure particle size and know when to stop? For many experienced chocolate makers, own tongue is the best tool. If it feels right, then it should be right.Then grinding could be stopped.
However, what they say is subjective. What is smooth for me may not be enough for my wife and other person who would serve as my substitute. There is likely to have a great variation in between batches.
A grindometer or a more affordable micrometer caliper is worthy investment. Particle size reduction can be monitored and stopped at the right point. Specification can be assured whoever the grinding attendant is.
Now that I have a melanger, I feel the need for one of these measuring devices. On my previous machine, I can fine tune it to my desired output by just rotating the adjustment knob. On the other hand, the melanger relies on three parameters. These are grinding stone pressure knob, the amount of nibs and duration of grind. Stronger pressure makes grinding faster. Lower quantity nibs requires shorter time compared to drum full capacity. Time, the longer, the finer. With these three intermixed factors, the surefire way to determine end point is measuring particle size accurately.