Though chocolate has existed in some form or another for thousands of years, the sweet delicacy that forms the candy with which we’re familiar was only introduced in the 16th century. The first commercial chocolate machinery wasn’t invented until 1729, and it was a water-powered, cocoa-crushing device. Today, far more sophisticated equipment helps confectioners create a wide array of chocolate candies at scale.
In this article, we will present a Chocolate Machines Buying Guide, detailing the most popular kinds of chocolate machines, factors you should consider when buying a new or used machine, and various safety considerations to keep in mind as you’re shopping.
Popular Types of Chocolate Machines
From bonbons to candy bars, coated fruit to crunchy barks, truffles to toffee, chocolate candy comes in many forms, and different sorts of machines can perform highly specialized tasks in the production of them. However, there are a number of extremely common machines that are used for almost all kinds of chocolate candy production. In this section, we will explain what they are and their defining characteristics.
Many kinds of candy feature chocolate as a coating rather than the main part of the confection. While certain kinds of chocolate-making equipment (such as candy depositors) feature integral melters, others require the chocolate to be liquefied separately. In these cases, the confectioner will need a chocolate melter.
Chocolate melters vary significantly based on the amount of liquid chocolate required. Smaller units may have one to four discrete and removable stainless-steel holding containers ranging in size from less than a liter to 3.5 liters. Appropriate for handcrafted candies and local restaurants, these relatively simple melters are comprised of cases, heating elements, and temperature controls.
Industrial melters are much more advanced. With capacities measuring in hundreds to thousands of kilograms, they may feature agitator pumps to ensure even consistencies, drain gates and pumps to simplify cleaning, integrated thermometers, and electronic controls. Such melters typically include fail-safes such as jacketed construction and multiple valves to prevent catastrophic loss.
Chocolate Tempering Equipment
Tempered chocolate behaves differently than melted chocolate. Once a chocolatier heats chocolate to its melting point, cools it, physically works it, and heats it again, the candy takes on a distinctive shine. It also becomes brittle and snaps when pressure is applied. Tempered chocolate possesses a distinctive look and texture, as well as certain desirable physical characteristics.
Chocolate tempering is often performed by hand in smaller shops and restaurants, which is impractical for larger operations. Chocolate tempering equipment automates the process by including heaters, chillers, highly customizable controls, and multiple layers of insulation so that the machine doesn’t bleed hot or cold air into the rest of the working space.
A chocolate enrober is responsible for coating items such as candy bars, certain kinds of truffles, chocolate-covered fruit, and other kinds of candy with an outer shell made of chocolate. These devices typically function as a kind of automatic assembly line. Core materials (e.g., nougat, nuts, fruit, toffee) get placed at an entry point on the machine. A conveyor belt moves them toward a centralized housing that contains a loading point for chocolate, a heater, and a dispensing array that creates a “waterfall” of liquid chocolate. As the core materials pass through, they become coated. The conveyor belt material is constructed of a food-safe material, and beneath it runs a trough that allows for the easy reclamation of any overflow. Finally, the finished candy gets deposited into a cooling area. Chocolate enrobers differ according to operating speed, waterfall application pattern, conveyor belt width, and the presence of an air blower designed to remove excess chocolate from the final product.
What to Look for When Buying a Chocolate Machine
Potential buyers of new and used chocolate machines must consider multiple factors prior to making a purchase. Manufacturer reputation, maintenance requirements, and the availability of spare parts all deserve attention. However, there are several factors that deserve special attention and that we will detail below.
Size and Weight
Every chocolate machine has a physical footprint and a specific weight. It’s far too common for purchasers to fail to take into consideration how well it fits into a facility’s operational flow. Measuring the space that’s required for orderly maneuvering and storage around the equipment will help ensure that you don’t buy a piece that decreases your business’ efficiency. Similarly, failing to take into account exactly how heavy a machine is may find you incurring extra costs to hire professionals simply to get the equipment into one’s space.
Cost is a natural topic to consider when buying any sort of equipment, but many purchasers fail to consider how operating cost is every bit as expensive as one’s initial outlay. While some machines may have lower price tags, they may also come from defunct manufacturers, making their maintenance prohibitively expensive. A pricier option with greater reliability may prove more thrifty in the long run.
Used chocolate machines can offer excellent value. However, make sure that its power requirements match the country of operation. If they don’t, you could find yourself needing to retrofit the machine, which can prove expensive.
Safety Considerations for Chocolate Melters, Temperers, and Enrobers
Any piece of industrial equipment carries physical safety and financial risks. Following are several safety considerations any buyer of new or used chocolate equipment must carefully think about:
- Does the equipment have a factory warrant?
- Has it been modified by a previous owner? If so, how? Will this negatively impact its functionality or safety?
- Does the equipment contain all of its parts?
- Are the equipment’s electrical components in good working order?
- Will the equipment require any structural alterations in order to function in your space? Have structural changes been made by a previous owner? If so, will they make it more difficult for the machine to properly work in your facility?
- If the equipment has insulation, how old is it and is it in good working order?
Chocolate machines are generally used in industrial candy making, smaller confectioners crafting bespoke sweets, and various kinds of restaurants. However, they do have additional applications, albeit more limited in scope. Chocolate equipment may be repurposed in the making of savory foods, such as those covered with cheese.
Accessories for Chocolate Machines
The accessories you will generally find for chocolate machines are spare parts and gear designed to keep the machine in good working order. However, although most machine options come preinstalled (e.g., computerized controls versus analog controls), purchasers can sometimes find modules on the secondary market that allow them to upgrade units themselves. Finally, a few machine models may have concomitant items intended for use in packaging or marketing (e.g., containers, wrappers).
Tips and Tricks
It’s easy to find the exact kind of chocolate machine that you need on Surplus Record! Start by navigating to our homepage and then typing “chocolate” into the search bar at the top of the page. A dropdown menu will provide you with the three main options mentioned in this article, as well as other related machinery.