The Behmor 1600 Plus is a great way to get into home coffee roasting, without the high price tag of other home roasters. It is capable of roasting up to one pound of green coffee at a time, but keep in mind coffee drops in weight the darker it is roasted. You may lose up to 20% of your mass when you roast a dark roast.
Running off of a standard wall outlet, the Behmor plugs in just about anywhere in your house. Be wary of smoke generation; the darker you roast, the more smoke is created. The Behmor does have a patented smoke suppression system, but if you roast beyond City+, you’ll likely set off your smoke detector.
Overall, the roasting quality is pretty uniform and the ability to roast at your house without needing to use a propane tank or natural gas is a serious plus. We highly recommend the Behmor coffee roaster to anyone looking to get into coffee roasting at home.
- Great for beginners – An easy way to begin roasting at home
- Pre-programmed settings – These make learning coffee roasting a breeze
- Provided informational booklet – This does a great job of teaching the fundamentals of coffee roasting
- Small form factor – Only about the size of a toaster oven
- Capable of roasting indoors – Uses electricity (standard 120V), rather than gas (LP, natural) to roast
- Roast size – Capable of going as low as 1/4 lb; most sample roasters are not successful at doing this because the beans don’t tumble enough
- Roast size – Only 1 lb maximum at a time; depending on roast, you may only yield 0.8 lb per batch
- Time-intensive – Darker batches of 1 lb can take nearly 20 minutes
- Expensive – At just under $400, you have to be committed to learning coffee roasting to have a purchase like this make sense
- Cleaning – Cleaning will need to be done regularly
- Smokey – Produces quite a bit of smoke to be classified as an indoor roaster
Outside the Roaster
The Behmor looks very much like a toaster oven on the outside. It has a door that pulls down just like an oven. The door has a thin glass panel that allows you to watch your roast progress. A control panel on the right side of the roaster is used to select your roast size and type. There’s even a button on the control panel to turn on an inside light, so you’re able to see every detail of the roast without opening the door. Just above the control panel is a digital display that shows the time remaining in your roasting or cooling cycle.
The power cable extends from the back and can plug into a normal 120V wall outlet. The cord isn’t very long—less than 2 feet. The roaster draws too much current for an extension cord, so take the reach into consideration before purchasing. The roaster weighs in at just over 20 pounds, which is no more than your average kitchen stand mixer.
Inside the Roaster
On the inside, the system is very much a drum roaster. It features a rotating stainless steel mesh drum that tosses the beans under a quartz heating element. An internal fan pulls smoke from the roasting chamber and exhausts it out of the top of the roaster.
The stainless steel drum has a clasp on it that secures the beans until you’re ready to empty your fresh roast. The drum also features vanes to help the beans tumble, giving you an incredibly even roast. The drum has a metal rod extending from both sides of the roaster. These rods mate with a rotating bit on the inside of the roaster, which causes the drum to rotate.
Underneath the drum, a chaff tray with a set of staggered stainless steel slats catch the chaff expelled from the roasted bean. The tray is removable, which makes cleaning out the chaff a breeze.
Cleaning the Roaster
The coffee roaster should be cleaned after each and every roast. As you roast coffee, chaff—the thin papery skin on each coffee bean—builds up inside of the chaff tray. The Behmor does a great job of collecting the chaff in the tray so that you don’t end up grinding and brewing it with your freshly roasted coffee beans.
Chaff doesn’t exactly change the flavor of the coffee, but it can absorb some of the delicious oils found in coffee, so too much of the stuff can be detrimental. That’s why giant, commercial coffee roasters use air cyclones to separate the chaff from the coffee.
My process for cleaning after every roast is to remove the chaff tray, dump it out in our garden, then blow out the roaster with a shop vacuum. As an aside, chaff can be an excellent addition to your garden.
In addition to your regular, surface-level cleaning after each roast, Behmor recommends that you do a dry burn every five roasts. A dry burn is where you roast with nothing in the roaster. The folks at Behmor suggest you clean the interior of the roaster beforehand with a non-caustic, non-abrasive cleaning agent like Simple Green.
After spraying the metal interior of the roaster with Simple Green, allow the cleaner to sit for a minute, then wipe away the oils. When you do this, be careful not to wet the roasting elements.
Once you’re finished with the cleaner, you’ll want to make sure the drum and chaff tray are in place before you begin the dry burn. You’ll want to execute both a full roast cycle and cooling cycle.
Another piece of the preventative maintenance for the Behmor is cleaning the DC fan blades at least every four months. Over time, the blades will build up dust and oil, which will result in longer roast times. These longer roast times are a variable you don’t want to add to your roasting routine, so we take their suggestion to heart.
Cleaning the fan blades involves removing six screws that hold the outer panel of the roaster in place. Make sure the roaster is unplugged before you do this. You’ll also want to consult the Behmor manual to get an in-depth look at this maintenance procedure.
Overall, the roaster is quite easy to clean. With the exception of the DC fan blade cleaning, there isn’t any cleaning procedure that is hard to do.
What About Smoke?
Smoke is a very real concern in coffee roasting. After the drying phase, the beans begin to go through Maillard reactions, which change the beans from yellow to brown. During this phase, the coffee begins to emit CO2 and other volatile gases. This continues through the first and second crack until the beans are dropped and cooled. Generally, the darker you roast, the more smoke you will generate.
With so many volatiles in the smoke, it’s definitely a good idea to have a way to exhaust the smoke while roasting. Luckily, the Behmor has a built-in smoke suppression system. This system does reduce the smoke generation, but doesn’t eliminate it entirely. It’s always a good idea to roast in a well-ventilated area.
I recommend roasting outdoors, but I understand that’s not always an option. Roasting in cold climates can be unbearable outdoors. If it’s the dead of winter and you can’t take the roaster out to the back porch, you should roast in the kitchen and open a window or two to ensure you have proper ventilation. You don’t want to have the fire department show up.
Learning to Roast
Roasting coffee is an incredibly easy and rewarding hobby. If you’ve just picked up a Behmor 1600 plus and you want to learn how to roast, check out our post about the fundamentals of coffee roasting.