I’m thinking about getting a Behmor coffee roaster. This looks like is the best option for a (> 1/2 lb) home roaster shy of the programmable HotTop (which is more than 3x the cost). From older threads, it seems that a few people here have the Behmor… how do you like it after using it for a while? Is there anything else out there in the sub-$500 space that I should be looking at? Any new or upcoming contenders on the horizon that might be worth waiting for?
I know that the Behmor is limited in dark-roasting capability, but one of the reasons I want to get a roaster is to open up options lighter than Full City.
I’ll be grateful for any light you can shed on this.
I’ve got a four year old Hottop Basic that’s still going strong so I can’t help you with the Behmor. The Hottop’s greatest advantages are both heating and cooling the beans very fast. There is another drum roaster at about the $500 price point called Gene Cafe you might want to check out.
I have been using a Gene Cafe for many years now. My machine is an earlier model of what they sell now so can’t speak to the current version. The only issue I have with it is a thermostat that has gone slightly wonky lately. What use to take 14 min to a city roast now takes 24 and its hard to dial in the lighter roasts now. No problems at full city and the longer roast time results in a slightly increased body. It’s a fixable problem and one that plagued the earlier models. I have not bothered to fix it yet as the problem is still intermittent working fine for a month or two then taking longer to reach temp for 3-4 months. Just about the time I am annoyed enough to fix it, it fixes itself for a few months.
The machine worked without any issues for years. I use it 2-3 times per week. Roasts are very consistent, unlike with my old fresh roast. It’s very easy to use and I actually love that I can change roast profile on the fly. I love this machine and recommend it even with the thermostat problem I have experienced.
I have been using a behmor for about two years, and I love it. Never used it for espresso, but it easily turns out full city+ roasts. I clean it every 5 roasts. I used to use a popcorn roaster, but this is miles better.
Bill, do you use the Behmor inside? With a vent fan? I roasted with a popper but the quantity demanded that I had to roast too often. Looking to step up to a Behmor and wondering about the smoke/fumes. Thanks.
I’ve had the Behmor 1600 for about 4 years and I roast a couple of times a week. I love it. One upside is that it can do a pound and I am not sure other comperably priced (give or take) roasters can. I would disagree with the statement about it not doing dark roasts well. Just don’t roast as much coffee. My typical roast weight is 10-12oz. Sometimes I go lighter and sometimes heavier. One way to get a headstart on getting a dark roast is roast at the P1 setting for just under 2 minutes, stop and then set to what you want. In essence, that adds 2 minutes to your roast. I think I got that tip from a fellow board member here from LA…Stuart Fischler is his name – I think.
Thanks for the feedback. Looks like I’ll be ordering a Behmor. It should meet my needs for now, and if I really get into it I’ll consider a programmable Hottop (or ???) later.
We consume 3/4 lb or so coffee beans in an average week, so I’m anticipating roasting 3/4 to 1 lb once a week. How long do you guys keep roasted beans? The folks at Sweet Maria’s say that they start going downhill noticably about 10 days post-roast. Do you agree with that?
We tend to drink mostly Indonesian and East African coffees, but I’m intending to try some Central American beans to see if I can find something better than what I’ve tried in the past. In my experience, many of these smell great but lack flavor in the cup. Any recommendations for beans in stock at Sweet Maria’s (or other green bean vendors)? The Costa Rica Tarrazu Dota Providencia sounds interesting. http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.greencoffee.mvc.php?source=side
Got a Behmor 1600 last month from Sweet Maria’s as well after using a whirley pop to roast coffee for the last year. It’s a great unit but you still need lots of ventilation as it set off all my alarms even under the range hood. Gotta crack windows and turn on whole house fan. Also have a dustbuster handy to clean out all the stray chaff or it will get all over your kitchen.
I find it does the best on P1 and 12+ minutes with 1/4lb of beans at a time, even then I’ve sometimes had to run it through another 6 min to get it past 1st crack. This is after heating it up quick run first.
The one thing about using a whirley pop I miss Is that I could do huge 3/4 lb batches in 12 minutes.
Temple coffee in Sacramento has green beans now as well.
I’ve been roasting for 5+ years, twice a week, and have become quite good at it.
I would advise getting the Hottop Basic. (The Hottop Programmable is actually worse, despite the cost. Google it.) I went straight to it from a popcorn popper, which was a leap of faith cost wise, but absolutely no regrets. Do not stop at GO.
I get 99% of my beans from Sweet Marias. As for which beans to get, that’s really based on personal tastes. I find their cupping scores to quite accurate. But if you’re still learning the ropes of roasting, you should purchase beans that are resistant to abuse. Generally these are higher altitude beans, Guatemala or Kenya would be a good place to start.
What got me to switch was the realization that coffee (for brew) and to a lesser degree espresso is highly sensitive to age. Beans over a week old are junk IMO. Once you come to that conclusion, you’re nearly forced to roast yourself!
I totally disagree with the idea that beans over a week are junk. I think that most experts will tell you that a four to five day rest is ideal and that they will hold at that level for a week with some decline towards the end. That’s what I find anyway. I favor african coffees, ethiopian natural process beans especially, as well as some Central American and S. Americans. Not a real fan of the Indonesian flavor profile.
I have bought bulk from Green Coffee Buying Club at times as well. Very good prices on some coffees, some sources on top medal-winnning Central Americans (at much higher prices).
Still using the popper myself but eyeing the Behmor almost daily. I just can’t see spending almost three times as much on the hottop when people seem rather pleased with the Behmor results. I don’t drink dark roasted coffees and that seems to be the biggest issue people have with the Behmor.
It really depends on the bean. The absolute best coffee drinking experiences I’ve had were with beans less than an hour after roasting. I’m not one who buys into the “rest” theory.
I think the main issue with the Behmor is getting the beans cooled very fast. The Hottop excels at that. Whether it’s worth the extra money, I’m not sure. There are also some issues with the Behmor and heavily chaffed coffees.
I find that a rest helps to my taste. Beans fresh off of a roast, whether at home or from commercial roaster, aren’t as expressive of their unique varietal flavors. Clearly opinions differ on this. I tend to find beans most expressive a few days out. Maybe it depends on the bean. I say that for the coffees I most commmonly drink, mainly Yirgacheffe, Harrar, and similar dry process African coffees, and certain Central and S America, but by that point we’ve covered a good part of the coffee-producing world. I certainly don’t find a decrease in quality until maybe 10 days or so, at least not for good quality coffees.
One thing I remember with using the popper was how long it took me to cool off the beans. The Hottop cools the beans immediately – like in less than a minute. I think that may have something to do with being able to grind and brew right away. I know that most coffee experts claim the beans “evolve” for a week or so, but for my taste there is something incredible about brewing right after roasting. Maybe it’s having the aroma of the roast still in the air. That’s how the buyers tasting out in the fields cup… I am partial to Indonesia/Asia and Costa Rica myself but generally don’t discriminate.
I find the optimal window between 12-36 hours. Anything earlier is too soon, though I hear grinding and letting it sit before brewing can accelerate the “resting” phase, likely getting it to de-gas the CO2 faster. Anything older and you lose too many of the volatile flavors. If you like earthy, chocolatey coffee- going with a longer rest might be best. I prefer floral and fruity flavors which tend to vanish sooner.
So I’ve been using the Behmor for a week+ now. Seems pretty straightforward and it’s nice having really fresh coffee. Started with 1/4 lb batches and now doing 1/2 lbs. The Sweet Maria’s sampler included three African and one Indonesian (Sumatra) coffee, as well as three central and one South American. Used the new world stuff for the first few “trial” roasts. Now at the point of getting some additional coffees to try. I like the idea of getting a few 5-lb lots of beans and roasting 1/2 or 3/4 lb batches using different profiles/roast levels. This seems like a good way to ge a more intuitive feel for what the machine is doing.
I’m looking at beans from SM, CB Corral, and Roastmasters, and just this morning checked out Green Coffee Buyers Club (mentioned by Michael above). GBCB seems especially attractive for getting a few 5 lb lots to work with. The Yemen, Red Cherry, Haraaz Mountains, Grade A+ seems interesting, for example.
Can anyone recommend any organic beans in particular? We have friends visiting in a few weeks who are really into organic everything. (I’m more interested in it tasting really good…)
Any tips on storing green coffee beans? I see that some folks vac seal and freeze green beans… is anyone here convinced that this is worth the effort?