Roasting on the Behmor 1600 Plus
The home roasting community is familiar with – and enamored of – the Behmor roaster. Look around on home roasting forums and the blogs of hobbyist roasters and you’re liable to find a Behmor machine or two. For some, this machine is the start of an obsession. For others it’s simply a consistent source of freshly roasted coffee in what might otherwise be a coffee-desert.
Regardless, the Behmor is certainly one of the most popular pieces of home roasting equipment. So after nearly a year of analysis on the Probatino, teaching courses on Loring and Diedrich roasters, and sticking to small scale professional roasters, we are ready to give a shout out to the home roasting community by including the stats from some Behmor roasts of Crown Jewel selections!
While Behmor now has a new 1600AB Plus model with double pane glass and a faster multi-speed motor, we’ve been using the 1600 Plus consistently for over two years with no problems whatsoever. In this article, we’ll explore setup and familiarization with the Behmor 1600 Plus. Look forward to seeing some Behmor stats on the roast analysis section of our Crown Jewel profiles in the very near future!
Getting Set Up:
Stepping up to the Behmor 1600 Plus, you’re confronted with a panel of buttons that can control various roast parameters including temperature, drum speed, and varied heat application throughout the roast cycle. Fear not, but read the manual thoroughly before starting.
Most of the roasts we performed were done with the manual method, which seems to be the tried and true way to get faster roast times not achievable through the preset profiles. Though the profiles on the Behmor 1600 Plus are a great start, we had difficulty achieving first crack with the presets. Don’t let this discourage you from using them for your first few roasts, however. Follow the guidelines in the manual and find which roast profile is best suited to your chosen coffee.
The relatively low charge temperatures make for a steep curve – a steep learning curve, that is. As many people have noted, a short (less than 1:30) preheating of the chamber on the Behmor tends to speed up roasts a bit, but not much. After many trials, I honestly do not see a benefit in performing this practice, but to each their own. To preheat the chamber, start one of the preset profiles, stop it after about a minute, and then carefully insert the drum and chaff collector (we recommend using silicon gloves if you choose to do this).
For my more successful roasts, I chose to use the 1lb preset for roasting 1/2 lb of coffee, manually entered full power by using the P5 button, and chose the maximum drum speed using the D button. First crack was achieved at 12:15, and I allowed the coffee to develop for 45 seconds after first crack for a final roast time of roughly 13 minutes. I stopped the roast, removed the drum and chaff collector using silicon gloves, and re-engaged the cooling cycle on the roaster immediately afterwards.
The coffee can be cooled more quickly outside of the roaster since the metal inside the roaster retains heat. Our goal is to cool the coffee to room temperature in 4 minutes or less, and the best way to do this is to apply air cooling. You can achieve this by opening the door to the roaster while it completes the cooling cycle, but if you feel the need to, you can get more fancy. We used a colander and a small fan, but moving the coffee between two containers achieves the same result. Passing the coffee between two containers has the added benefit of winnowing off the chaff from the freshly roasted coffee.
My Behmor Setup
Wait – 13 Minute Roasts?!:
The long roast times in the Behmor might lead some professionals to question the quality one can achieve with the roaster. The fact is, after a few trial roasts our entire panel was fooled about which roast was from the Behmor and which was from the Probatino.
For this initial experiment, we used CJ1109: the Guatemala Carlos Roberto Serrano Roa Fully Washed Crown Jewel. At the cupping table we noted more perceived acidity in the Behmor roast, which may have been indicative of my shorter development time. There were no baked notes to the roast, and we found the coffee to be nuanced and enjoyable.
In the two years since this inaugural roast, we have roasted dozens upon dozens of coffees on the Behmor 1600 Plus. You can find some of our profiled Crown Jewel coffees on our blog – chances are, you can find a green coffee similar to yours in the annals of our roasting on the Behmor.
We had a perfectly pleasant time tasting this coffee. Don’t be turned off by the long roast times, the coffee turns out tasty!
There are a few quirks to this roaster. With patience and practice, you can work around these skillfully.
One thing that I noted immediately after roasting is that smaller sized beans tend to get stuck in the perforations of the drum. Look out for chipped/cut beans, too. These smaller beans may fall into the gaps and get stuck there after expanding during the roast cycle. Remember to check for hangers on in between roasts, and gently remove the stuck beans before engaging your next roast. Otherwise you’ll end up with burnt and burning beans mixed in with your next roast.
I roast inside since the readout on the Behmor is a bit difficult to see in bright daylight situations. Take this into effect when positioning your roaster. I used my hand to shade around the readout to see how much time was left on my roast when I roasted out in the sun, but finding a nice shaded area to roast your coffee is a good move.
This leads me into the automatic stop function. You must keep an eye on your roast time readout, and confirm that you are at the roaster! The readout will begin flashing, giving you one minute remaining before the roast stops automatically. You must respond to this by pressing Start, or any other button. If forget to do this, the roaster will automatically enter cooling mode, and your roast will stall.
Make sure to clean out your roaster of all chaff after every use, and to run an empty cycle every 5 roasts. Along with an occasional thorough cleaning of the inside of the machine, this will keep the machine in tip top condition.
Follow the manual closely for specific cleaning instructions! Never use abrasives or harsh cleaners on the Behmor 1600 Plus. Our chosen cleaning solution is denatured alcohol, which takes all the coffee oils and dust off the machine easily.
A bean stuck in the roasting drum perforation
The Behmor is a perfectly cromulent roaster that will get you into roasting your own coffee and comparing traits. There are entire online communities devoted to its use, and there is plenty of excellent documentation that can provide you with ideas and experiments. Even if you tire of your Behmor and want to upgrade to a professional machine, they have decent resale value when kept in good condition. If you’re just getting into roasting and want to get a bit more serious, this is just the roaster for you. If you already have a Behmor, you can find innumerable profiles throughout the Crown Analyses on our blog!