The DIY Cocoa Winnower

After careful roasting, the next essential part of chocolate making is the winnowing process. The cacao should be cracked and blown with air to separate the husk off. The old fashioned way of doing this is placing it in bilao (round shallow bamboo tray). Then flipping the tray repeatedly hoping there is enough wind to throw away the lighter husk. A long laborious process that open result to a low recovery and poorly winnowed product.

The use of electric fan makes the process a bit faster with better result. However, look around you after and you’ll see a messy surrounding. Another thing is, regulatory authorities won’t be happy with what you are doing. Food preparations should be done inside a clean room, not outside where there could be many sources of contamination.

Well, what I just did solved the problem I have just mentioned. Instead of blowing away the lighter cocoa husk, it could be done in cleaner manner with the use of vacuum. A vacuum cleaner that is set for use only for cocoa winnowing and not for other cleaning purposes, like cleaning the floor, garage and car.

It is thanks to Chocolate Alchemy and Chocolate Life  which posted the diy and yet low cost winnower.


1) A vacuum cleaner. Most of the builds they posted used Shop-Vac, so I used that brand too. I seems a popular and reliable brand. I bought the model with 1300 watts power.

2) Various PVC pipe connectors. I was really eying for white pipes but it is not available locally. Blue pipes – the water pipes, are available but the 3″ specifications is not available locally either. I will switch to white pipes once I discovered where to get it.

3) Five gallon white pail. It is a sturdy food grade pail. The pail I bought was a margarine container so I am pretty sure it is food grade. The ordinary black pail from nearby market is fine and in fact it was that I used for my first test.

white margarine pail and neltex pipesHow to build:

Please go to the original authors site for build instructions. What they posted there are easy enough for you to follow. I don’t think repetitive instructions are necessary.

Full working photo coming up as soon I finished working with the revised prototype.

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