We started this ice cream adventure knowing only three things for sure.
1. We love ice cream
2. Almost everyone else loves ice cream (About 90% of the US population)
3. People who work with ice cream seem to love their job
That was it. No other facts or figures were needed to convince us that the building we bought on Dayton-Yellow Springs Road would one day turn into Jubie’s Creamery. So, what was the first thing we did once we decided we’re opening an ice cream shop? You guessed it. Learn how to make it, and make the best. This notion led to visiting multiple workshops focused on ice cream equipment and production to ensure that the machine we decided to buy was not purchased on a whim, but in fact, had a spoonful (or two) of hands-on research behind it.
Before we go back to the very beginning, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Making really good, homemade ice cream is not nearly as hard as it sounds. Seems crazy, right? Well, before you decide it is, let me explain the very first pages of any ice cream recipe book...
There are only three conditions that differentiate good ice cream from the absolute best ice cream. Those conditions include the quality of your dairy mix, freshness of ingredients, and the amount of air whipped into the product. That’s it. But wait... how does air get into the product? I’m so glad you asked! Ice cream is made by pouring fresh dairy mix into the freezing cylinder of the machine (or as they call it in the biz a “batch freezer”). The cylinder has a mechanism that churns the mix while it’s freezing which beats air into it. The more the machine churns, the more air is whipped into the product, and the lighter and fluffier the ice cream will be. The less air you churn into the mix, the more dense and rich the product will be. This can ultimately be the deciding factor for which ice cream tastes “cheap and not worth coming back for” or “too rich for me, do you want the rest?”.
Our goal is to serve ice cream to our customers that is right in the middle of the two. Something that will make them say, “that was so good I could eat 4 more” every time they’re in our shop. We want to make the best ice cream on the planet and will settle for nothing less than exceptional. The machine that we needed to buy was not only going to have to be able to deliver on this lofty goal, but it needed to deliver it time and time again. Thus began our years of research.
We started by attending the National Ice Cream Retailers Association (NICRA) Convention in 2013 where we met multiple ice cream shop owners and suppliers. All the big-name machines were there – Emery Thompson, Electrofreeze, Stoelting, Coldelite, and Carpigiani. Of course each of them claimed that their machine was the best, but we noticed that Emery Thompson consistently remained the crowd favorite for the shop owners. While each vendor had their own “expert opinion” on what batch freezer was right for us, we wanted to check out each machine for ourselves… and that’s exactly what we did.
Our first stop was to Advanced Gourmet in Greensboro, North Carolina where we spent my senior year spring break discussing preliminary store layouts and testing two different machines. The first machine was a Coldelite Compacta (pictured above) and the second one was a Catabriga Effe. Both were Italian machines and made with artisan gelato in mind. Since we envisioned making premium hard ice cream, these weren’t the perfect match for us.
Next, we headed to Scoop School in St. Louis, Missouri. There, we spent three days learning how to open and operate an ice cream shop from breaking ground to grand opening. We not only gained a wealth of knowledge, but we also were able to use three different manufacturers of batch freezers including Electrofreeze (pictured left), Carpigani, and Stoelting. While these were staple machines in the hard ice cream industry, we didn’t want to make this important of a decision without seeing all the key players in the game. So, we booked a flight to Florida.
Emery Thompson began in Brooklyn, NY in 1905 when Emery himself patented the world’s first automated batch freezer. Today the company is owned and operated in Brooksville, Florida by his grandson, Steve, who still sells the same type of machine his grandfather sold 112 years ago, making them the oldest in the industry. We were lucky enough to attend a seminar they host to teach future shop owners how to make some of the best frozen desserts with their machines. While we were there, Steve and his quirky sidekick TieDye Jeff of Mystic Ices and Creams created all different types of sorbets, premium ice creams, and even dairy free ice cream for us to try. We were amazed by both the versatility of the machine and the features it came with. Not only are you able to fully control the air content put into the ice cream, but you also can throw just about any mix-ins you want directly into the freezing cylinder while it’s churning. These two features stood out immensely compared to all the other machines we used, and we were as good as sold. The cherry on top of this already delicious sundae? These machines are 100% made in the USA with cast stainless steel (unlike any other batch freezer we had met beforehand), which means they will last 6 times longer than any other machine.
Deciding on an Emery Thompson was a huge step in the countdown to our Grand Opening, and we believe that this machine will give us the ultimate flavor freedom we need. It will also provide a consistent and delicious product for generations of customers to come. Throughout this entire process, we’ve been lucky enough to learn some good tips and meet even better people who have been more than willing to share their ice cream knowledge. Not to our surprise, we were right all along… everyone who works with ice cream absolutely loves what they do, and we know we will too.
P.S. – If you're interested in what we learned when we visited Steve and TieDye Jeff, the link to the entire seminar is below!