New Winnower style

As most people know, I’ve been working on a winnower for some time now.  Well, so has someone else, and it is rather exciting.  At least I am excited.  It is a very elegant design.  It’s based on the principal of a cyclone dust collector.

You can see it in action at Brooklyn Cacao .

Now there is the good news and the bad news (as I see it).  It’s not scaled for ‘us’ – either production or cost wise.  That’s the bad news.  It produces up to 70 kg/hour – truly stunning.  And it is approximately $35K.  Yes, that’s the price and what I consider the bad news.   And to be fair, it is made out 5 mm pyrex glass, stainless steel and include a great new designed 2 stage crack, plus all the motors and blowers you need. The good news is that I am discussions with the inventor of this patent pending design, and we (I dearly hope) to work out a model that is more approachable to our needs.

And, no, I won’t be stopping work on my design.

10 Responses to “New Winnower style”

  1. This appears to be very similar to the winnower that the Mast Brothers use. I believe I read that it was a prototype that they were working on with an engineer friend. As they’re in Brooklyn, it may be that this is the finished design. You can see their winnower in this photo essay:

    It looks like they use a crankandstein to crack beans into a bucket that they then shopvac into their winnower. I don’t think this idea should be too hard to replicate.

    The mast brothers winnower doesn’t incorporate the cracking stage as this one does, but it shouldn’t be too hard to mount a crankandstein over a funnel feeding into the intake hose.

  2. p.s. any chance of getting a look at the plans you’re working on?

  3. John; I went to take a look at it, and the video won’t load. Either it’s too big, or won’t run, and I’m on high speed DSL. Suggestions?

  4. If you are looking for other ideas, here’s our take on an existing design that we modified. The parts cost less than $150.

    It works extremely well — the nibs fall down and are collected in the bin below. The chaff is sucked into the shop vac and collects neatly into a bucket. Air flow is regulated with two dimmer switches (one for the blower and one for the bucket vac). By adjusting the dimmers we’ve been able to tune it for various nib sizes to minimize nib loss.

    We pre-sort the nibs, but this step may be unnecessary.

  5. Ben, I believe Mast brothers was the test bed, but don’t quote me on that.

    I will probably have plans available once I am happy with the design. Currently, I am working on a ‘deluxe’ crankandstein. The crack consistency is critical to automated winnowing, and whereas the Mill is good for hand winnowing, it doesn’t quite do what I want for the winnower.

    Brad – I am not sure what to suggest. It runs just fine for me. Make sure you don’t have scripts blocked – that will do it.

    Todd, that is a nice look. Do you hand feed the nibs? I found pre-sorting critical for that style winnower also.

  6. John — we pour the nibs/husk into the hopper, put on the cover, release the valve and let them fall through by gravity. We generally have to do some shaking to let them through — the large husks especially tend to get caught and require more shaking.

  7. I am currently building a 2.5 hp shop cyclone and I intend to use it double duty as a dust collector and with adjustments as a winnower.

    There is an incredible wealth of info about how to build these yourself at this site:

    and photos of finished projects based on plans here:

    Bill Pentz has excell spreadsheet plans that are scalable down to a shop vac size and up to 5 hp, and include cutout dimensions for the sheet metal.

    Cyclones have been used in agricultural processing for years so I am wondering what is patentable about the design you mention.

    I can post photos of my build if you are interested and you are welcome to visit as I live just south of Portland in Willsonville. I am also working on a fluid bed roaster that uses the output of the 2.5 HP blower to drive heated air, so the blower is being reused, making my total investment in roaster and winnower around $2k using off the shelf parts.

  8. Doug,

    Cyclones have been used in agricultural applications for about 100 years. They have been used to remove particles from an airstream. They have never been used to differentiate particles or perform a winnowing operation.

    The concept is patentable and we are patent pending. I hope you will consider that before trying to reverse engineer.


    Daniel Preston

  9. Not to cast doubt on the patentability of the design, but i know mining companies use cyclone technology to differentiate particles by density, as a cleaning step.

    A cyclone used for dust collection is essentially differentiating particles by density too, its just that those particles are much much lighter, and the tolerance on what is collected/saved is much wider (sawdust/solids collect in one place, particulates collect on a filter). Saying a cyclone has never been used to differentiate particles is not true at all, since they were designed to do just that.

    That said, I want the design to succeed because, whether or not it is patentable is greatly overshadowed by the fact that it solves a huge problem for small scale chocolatiers (and looks cool while doing it 🙂

  10. Cyclonic separation is a method of removing particulates (ALL particles down to the limit of the design) from an air, gas or water stream, without the use of filters, through vortex separation. Rotational effects and gravity are used to separate mixtures of solids and fluids. There is no prior art in agriculture where vortex tubes have been used to winnow or differentiate between large particles of differing mass.

    btw. we are in testing of a 15kg/hr unit for export to Ecuador (as well as a 200kg/hr).

    Hopefully pictures/video will be up after the Fancy food week in NY.


    Daniel Preston

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