Rescued From The Venezuelan Jungle
It is uncommon to see vintage chocolate making machinery. But this extremely rare 1901 Lehmann Melangeur is working and on public display in our Chocolate Tasting Room!
With dogged persistence and some good fortune, Michael located a very large (8 foot wide, 12,000 Lb) vintage Lehmann Melangeur (circa 1901) in the jungle of Venezuela.
After a breathtaking 6-month journey involving numerous people, trucks, boats, ships and hurricanes, the melangeur arrived at the chocolate factory.
The nature of restoring vintage machinery is one of relying on old photos, book passages or hearsay. Having none of those to call upon, Michael began carefully taking the Lehmann apart to understand the direction of wear on the massive granite stones, and movement directions of the connecting parts.
He discovered that the Pinion gear was missing entirely from the Lehmann! That's like having a car without an engine.
Michael began calculating what the missing shape might look like.
With expert precision he fabricated the missing gear in steel, and when it was time to test the 3 foot long, 154 Lb part, everyone gathered on the perimeter to observe ... it was such a monumental feat to attempt, and not a breath could be heard.
A deep, heavy rumble eased underneath and the gear began turning the massive granite wheels in harmony; he had succeeded!
High-fives, teary eyes and a joyful round of applause ensued. It was truly awe-inspiring to see this 1901 machine get back to work in all of it's glory!
The Lehmann melangeur operates exactly as it did in 1901, creating the most traditional, European craftsman couverture chocolate that can be made.
When the nibs are being crushed into chocolate liquor, the aroma wafts throughout the entire building and down the block. That complex, dark, hot chocolate smell is absolutely decadent and impressive!