The Behmor is probably the best value bench top roaster on the market. Behm Inc. is very focused on providing an affordable roaster, and on continuing to enhance the functionality of the machine. All upgrades can be retrofitted to previous models.
We import the Behmor 2020SR Plus, which you can purchase here. You will also find how to videos here. Older models include the Behmor 1600 and the Behmor 1600 Plus (these are no longer being manufactured). Differences include:
Behmor_Info_Sheet.pdf (summary of controls and roasting profiles are summarised here)
Behmor_2020SR_Directions_for_Opening_Roasting_Drum.pdf (to help prevent the catch being broken which is a common issue)
Behmor - Automatic Mode
You may want to start working with the P1 programme (full heat for the entire roast) while getting used to the machine. You should be able to hear first and second crack, and it would be good to get used to switching the machine into cooling if you need to (i.e. if you've reached or are about to reach your desired roast level before the programme has completed).
We generally put the machine into cooling either just as or just after second crack begins (depending on the bean) to give a medium roast. The beans will continue to roast using the ambient heat during the cooling cycle (hence you will now need to get used to anticipating when your beans are "nearly" roasted).
Other roasting profiles drop and raise the heat at various points during the roast - which you will be able to see in the manual. These changes in temperature are based on the overall calculation time of the roast and what percentage of that roast time you are through the roast.
Before the Behmor Plus was released (giving the roaster manual control over the heat), we would roast using the P2 programme in our goal to extend the gap between 1st and 2nd crack - thereby enhancing the flavour and allowing more caramelisation of the sugars in the beans. It also makes it easier to differentiate between these two critical phases in the roast.
Using 400g P2 B, you will have set up a 20 minute roast time for 350-375g of beans (the weight depending on which bean we are roasting). The power drop will occur 12 minutes into the roast (machine reads 8 minutes remaining). Then with two minutes remaining the power goes back up to 100%. Note that at At 6m30s to go, the panel will start flashing (see Safety Feature below). Press Start to continue the roast.
After a few roasts with each bean, you can adjust the overall roast time so that first crack (7-6 minutes remaining) happens after the drop and second crack (3-2 minutes remaining) occurs before the increase.
If you are wanting a medium roast, you will need to start the cooling cycle just as second crack starts or even just before – so the roast coasts into second crack as it is cooling. You should be able to leave it going to get a darker roast (10 seconds, 20 seconds max).
If your panel has buttons with both blue and red surrounding them - this indicates those buttons have a dual purpose AND that you can switch your roaster to Manual Mode.
Begin your roast (selecting the weight desired) then press Start. Once the roast has begun, you can press P1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 to go into Manual mode. Press 1 at any time to go back to Automatic mode.
Our go to approach for 350g of washed coffee is to start using 400g P1, using the time increment to set the roast time to 20 mins (we only extend the time to make it easier to track the roast). From this point we can switch to manual mode at any time by pressing P5 (100% heat).
We find that (with our power supply), the beans will hit first crack before the Safety Feature (see below) engages. If the panel starts flashing and the machine beeds (2020SR model only), press Start to continue the roast.
When the beans hit first crack we start slowing down the heat, using P4, P3, P2. When the beans are in rolling 1st crack (which may be immediate depending on the bean), we set the temperature to 0% ("P1") to extend the time between first and second crack. At this point, the beans are exothermic (meaning they are generating their own heat).
At the moment, we allow the countdown to send the roaster into cooling, finding that we don't need the beans to go quite into 2nd crack for our personal roast preference.
You might want to raise the temperature, and extend the time as the countdown completes, depending on your roast level preference.
If you have grams on your front panel, rather than pounds, you will also have the safety feature. At 75% of the way through the roast, the timer will start flashing. If you have the 2020SR model, it will also beep. If you do not press Start at this point, you roaster will get an err7 and go straight into cooling.
This ensures that the roast is being monitored when you hit the potential danger period. Monitoring your roaster obviously helps to avoid "bean ignition".
Differences between Beans
Natural processed, and lower altitude beans tend to be softer, and therefore can respond more quickly during the roast than the harder washed beans. With every roast, and especially when roasting a new type of bean, it is important to use your senses (smell, hearing, and to a lesser degree sight) to monitor where your roast is at and respond accordingly.
Finally .... the Jake
There is a lot of noise about Behmor's 1kg roaster - the Jake. Unfortunately it is a long way from Production even for the USA (where Behm Inc. is based). Given our experience with the 2020SR (which took many, many years to release after the Behmor 1600 Plus was last manufactured), we would not expect the Jake to be available in New Zealand until around 2 years after it is available in the USA.
If it ever becomes available to us, we will be bringing them in. We want one too!