Grinding Cocoa Nibs In Ball Mill?

Boss showed me a video, machine for chocolate making. A heavy duty stainless steel pot with a removable fork mixer. It was a demo video.

The man mounted the pot on base. Installed the fork mixer. Added the cacoa nibs followed by grinding  beads – small stainless steel balls. Then let the machine hand do the grinding process for unknown length of time. The mixing speed and length were set with just few button presses.

Second round. Removed the pot with cocoa liquor. Replaced with bigger pot. Installed a bigger mixing hand. Transferred the liquor to installed pot. Dropped grinding beads, cacoa butter, sugar and milk in succession. Then, again, let the machine did the hard work for unknown number of hours.

Where did the grinding beads go? After mixing aka grinding, the mixture will be passed thru mesh to collect the grinding beads.

How the grinding beads work? The rotating machine hand move the beads around the container. The moving bead pound to each other crushing every particle in between contact surface.

My comments:

Why use two pots? One pot for grinding and one pot for mixing with the ingredients? One pot design is better. Use the bigger pot for grinding and mixing. It will reduce labor and equipment cost. Slice off the smaller pot, the additional time incurred in transferring of contents and cleaning of used equipment.  Less material transfers also means less chances of contamination.

Why use  grinding beads or ball mill? Grinding with it is a very slow process as compared to metal and stone burrs. Every  ball is a potential contaminant. A tear on mesh might result to metal coated candy. In case the mesh is extremely durable, the balls might be left behind or accidentally added back.

On chocolate’s point of view, ball mill generate less heat as compared to burr grinders. Too much heat is not desirable in chocolate processing.

Maybe it is a recommended grinding equipment for cacao processing other than rollers and burr grinders with temperature / speed control. Maybe it is the best.

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