Sweet Maria's Behmor Roaster Guide - v 1.0
1. Features, Purchase 2. Using the Behmor 3. Roast Quality, Roast Curves 4. Maintenance, Longevity 5. Summary

The Behmor 1600 features automatic roast curves, pre-programmed roast times (with the ability to override), a smoke-reduction feature, and an automatic cooling cycle.

Summary :

  • The Behmor can roast 1/4, 1/2 or full 1 Lb. batches. The 1/4 settings are a bit limited - you can not add time beyond certain maximum limits set for each profile. 1/2 pound batches are a better place to start to achieve good quality results "out of the box".
  • The roaster has a smoke-reduction feature, a secondary ceramic heating element that treats effluence from the drum. The roaster isn't totally smokeless (the bigger the batch, or the darker the roast, the more smoke), but this feature greatly reduces the smoke output.
  • Like most drum roasters, the machine is quiet (60db or less at 1 foot) compared to air roasters, making it easy to hear the "first crack" and "second crack", letting the operator know how dark the coffee is roasted.
  • The roast is visible through the glass window, and the interior has a lightbulb to illuminate the roast chamber. Visibility is better with the new chaff collector -but still limted - so you do need to judge the roast by sound and smell (and cupping the final result) more than by the appearance of the beans. There is a fairly simple modification to cut a viewing hole in the chaff collector - though it means more chaff leaks out.
  • For each batch size (1/4, 1/2 or 1 Lb.), you can quickly select a pre-programmed roast time (A, B, C, or D on the touch-control panel), and a roast heat curve program (designated P-1 through P-5). By combining these, you can produce a wide range of roast styles, from a light City roast, medium Full City roast, or Vienna roast. See our notes on limitations on the Roast Quality/Roast Curves page.
  • You can add or subtract time from the roast cycle at any time using the + and - key on the touch pad. You can also choose to end the roast by hitting the Cool button at any time.
  • The machine has an automatic cool cycle of 8-12 minutes, depending on the batch size. Coffee stays in the drum to cool - so there is a significant "coasting" effect. You will need to stop the roast early to account for this.


Advantages of the Behmor Roaster:

There are some great aspects to this roaster and folks will enjoy using it.

-Probably the most affordable drum roaster out there (that actually works).

-The roast results are good, and you can truly roast a full pound of coffee in it in one batch. In fact this roaster does large batches better than small ones.

- It has been tested for a long long time by lots of coffee professionals and home roasters. As a new product, we are always a bit nervous about how a machine will hold up, but with this machine, the unit has been in development for so long, we are pretty confident about it.

-Smoke suppression is impressive and eliminates the great majority of smoke. It is not "smokeless" but it definitely is "smoke-less".

-With a solid warranty and thoughtful production you should have years of enjoyment with the Behmor, a properly maintained unit will perform consistently if you use good roasting practices.

-It is easy to detect first and second crack since the roaster is so quiet. This is a great benefit and helps offset the difficulty in seeing the beans while roasting.

-While you can't actually store any custom roast profiles with the Behmor, the simplicity of the control panel allows for easy comprehension of the roaster's behavior with various coffees. Quick learning curve for beginners with decent profiles and time adjustment capability but will also give experienced roasters enough choices to get great results roast after roast.

- As of 11/20/09 - the small grid drum ships standard with the roaster, so there is no longer a problem roasting small beans. A stray bean may still fall out, but this upgrade improves how the roaster performs with these smaller beans.

Limitations of the Behmor Roaster:

There are some significant limitations to this machine. According to the manual:

-You can safely roast only 20 seconds into second crack. Darker roasts are possible - see the section on the Using the Behmor page called "Breakin' the Law".

-The roaster is not designed to roast heavily chaffed, dry processed coffees - again the danger here is fire because the beans and chaff remain in the drum with the heating element. We did roast some heavily chaffed coffees, but not dark, and always were extra vigilant. A small chaff fire or sparks are a possibility especially as the cooling cycle kicks in and there is greater air flow. 11/20/09: The redesigned chaff tray catches more chaff, but it is a bit cumbersome.

-You can modify the
profiles to some degree - but there is not the level of customization available with the HotTop Programmable or even the Gene Cafe, both of which enable you to change temperature and time infinitely. Also, you can only change profiles before beginning a roast cycle and not midway through.

-Visibility of the roast is an issue. The new chaff tray improves visibility - but you are still peering through window through the drum.

-You may have trouble roasting a full pound into second crack depending on your voltage and ambient temperatures. You and get around this by roasting less than a full pound and tricking the settings as we describe in the "Breaking' the Law" section of this review.

Comparing the Behmor to other roasters:

The Behmor is the ideal roaster for a very specific use: doing full 1/2lb or 1lb light or medium roasts with a limited amount of control. This certainly suits some of the roasters out there perfectly. Right away you also know that if you are only going to be doing dark roasts, this machine might not be for you. You can get a dark roast - but you would essentially be watching every dark roast carefully with your finger on the cool button. We would suggest a different machine or setup if you plan to only do dark roasts. It's not impossible to dark roast though but the problems with doing so should be duly noted.

HotTop vs. Behmor: The Hottop Programmable easily has more flexibility because you can program/control the profile both time and temperature fairly easily and save your custom programs. This machine is something like the "gold standard" of controllable home machines. Also it is the only home drum roaster that allows you to dump the roasted coffee and have the beans cool outside the drum. Whether this matters to you or you can taste this in the resultant cup is for you to answer. Both the HotTop Basic and Programmable models have no problem with small bean coffees or dark roasts. Previous models of the HotTop have been out on the market for more than 4 years and the machines hold up well. HotTop USA is good about making parts for the machine available after the warranty period - so you can keep the roaster working a long time.

Gene Cafe vs. Behmor: The Gene Cafe is easy to use - the buttons to control the temperature make it easy to manipulate the temperature on the fly. The drum is solid glass, and so small beans are not a problem. Dark roasts are also no problem. Programmability is a bit more limited here, there is no way to save custom profiles just as with the Behmor.

Air-Roasters vs. Behmor: The Behmor is a drum roaster - so it will produce a typical drum roast - that is, a better development of the body, but perhaps muted brightness. Some people prefer the brighter tastes from air roasts while others prefer muted high end and more body from drum roasts. Drum roasts are generally prefered for espresso where too bright a coffee can produce a sour-tasting espresso. Drum roasters also roast more than the typical air roasters - which have limited batch sizes because the fan needs to agitate the coffee. But with those things in mind, the Hearthware I-Roast 2 has similar programmable flexibility.

The Freshroast and Nesco are starter machines. It's possible to do small batches of espresso and do a decent job here too. ... and moving further away from machines you have poppers, turbo crazy roasting, and BBQ roasting too. These are all good old-fashioned methods.

Interested in what Behmor users are saying about this machine? Check out the Sweet Maria's Coffee Home Roasting Forum for more conversation about this home roasting and other home roasting topics.

Here are other links that may be helpful in making a decision:

Roaster Comparison Chart

How to Choose a Home Roaster article

PDF version of Tip sheet sent with Behmor roaster