A comparison of Wet Grinders for Refining Chocolate

When I first discovered that a wet grinder could work for refining chocolate there were a myriad of choices. After much comparison of the attributes, specifications and materials I settled on the Santha. The other major contender was the Sharp, and for a while was the one I had a link to. During the time I was extensively testing my Santha a few people purchased the Sharp and started using that one. I received some conflicting reports and decided I needed to test out the Sharp also. At this time, in an amazing display of coincidence Sharp offered to send me a test model to evaluate, modify and report back on. This is a summary of my results and tests on that comparison. It did not go well for Sharp.

First off, the Sharp needed to have the same modification that the Santha did to allow it to run continuously. Unfortunately it did not have a cover that made this very easy. The vents were on the side, prone to breaking and as you can see, the capacitor was wired directly to the housing making the modification very difficult and cumbersome. This was not really too bad as these would turn out to be factory modifications, but it was annoying.

Once it was modified, I decided to test it head to head with the Santha. I wanted to start gently, so I prepared 4 lbs of white chocolate and divided it between the two wet grinders. This is where I found the first of many things that annoyed my about the Sharp. The first time I opened the locking arm, the latch broke and I was required to take it apart to fix that as well as I could. Once in working order again I lifted the locking arm and the two half covers fell on the floor. I can't tell you how many times I did this, but it was many. I vowed to take the covers off, but over and over I kept forgetting to, and down to the floor they went (at least they bounce).

I finally got the White chocolate in and started the motor. Well, apparently I did not have the latch well set and the locking arm came flying up, almost hit me in the head and made a terrible racket as it bounced with every revolution. A cutoff safety switch here would have seemed prudent. Anyway, I got it locked down, made sure it was lock…and it did it again. I don't know how I didn't get it latched, but this was going to be a problem. I tried it a third time, checked, re-checked, rechecked again, and turned it on….it held and my refining test was going.

My first observation was that it was a bit louder than the Santha, a little faster and not really pleasant to be around due to the extra noise. It was sort of a higher grating noise as opposed to the low thrum the Santha makes. I noted this but was willing to put up with it if it gave a comparable chocolate. After about 15 minutes the sound changed. That’s odd I thought and let it keep going, thinking it was just smooth out and changing sounds as the sugar began to refine. Another 5 minutes and the sound really changed - hard grating. I went to look. One of the rollers had stopped moving. I stopped the motor, lifted on of the half covers (I remembered this time)…and promptly dropped it into the chocolate…sigh. User friendliness strike 4? I fished it out, and put it in the sink. I came back, popped the latch to unlock the arm…and the other cover hit the floor. I took out the roller assembly and sure enough one roller was completely frozen and the other was well on the way. I tried cleaning it, but nothing worked. Testing was over for the day.

I contacted the supplier and they sent me out two new rollers, one canted and meant for incorporating ingredients.

I started the test again, and this time thinking that maybe I had stressed it starting with a high solid content white chocolate, I began this test with some extra thin couverture I was testing in the Santha. The locking arm did not pop this time, and I only dropped the covers once. After 15 minutes, just like the last time, the sound changed. I checked it immediately and sure enough one of the rollers was starting to drag. I stopped it, pulled out the roller and it was stiffening up. I decided to stop with that one and put in the 3rd roller. I won't bore you with the details, but 20 minutes later it locked up also and I considered this test over.

The Sharp had failed.

I will say that I know a few people have the Sharp wet grinder and it is working well for them, but I did not have good luck with it. Aside from the three failures, it was just not user friendly in a number of ways.

Cocoa Beans
Cracking & Winnowing
Conching & Refining
Tempering / Molding

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