Behmor 1600 Coffee Roaster - First Impressions

The ever pleasant, ever knowledgeable Steve Leighton of Has Bean fame, kindly lent me a prototype coffee roaster last month at the cost of a review. Being me, I promptly got caught up forgot about it and so last night was actually the first time I got to power it on.

For those of you that have never heard of the Behmor 1600, it's a home coffee roaster that's been on sale in the States for a while now and the developer of it will soon(?) be releasing a model that works on the juicier 240V we have at this side of the Atlantic. What's so special about this roaster you ask? Well as Tom at Sweet Maria's says "There's finally a home coffee roaster that can truly do a full pound of coffee!" that's 453g in new money. That's a great weight, roughly twice what I can roast in my Gene Cafe and it has a host of amazing features, quiet roasts, smoke free, consistent roasts etc.

So what did I think of it?
Well first off, it's a great size, pretty much the same a our microwave, which means it can happily sit on the worktop and not look like a warp core which keeps my wife happy.

The control panel looks quite complicated and the manual even more so. I can almost forgive that, as the major of users will be coffee geeks, but I had to read it through twice just to be sure I was doing things right and that does seem excessive, either that I was just having a really stupid day, who knows?

The smokeless filter is a nice touch and does a really good job up to a Full City (ish) level, after that you're likely to get a charcoal'd bean anyway, but as a lb of colombian decaff found out last night, no amount of smoke filtering will help when your beans roasted to the point of starting a fire. Which brings me to the negative...

Visibility. Frankly it's terrible. Due to the nature of the machine you really have to open the door and remove the chaff tray during the roast (which will affect the internal temperature) to have a good look at the beans. The above problem happened because I ended up shining a maglite in to see how the roast was getting on and completely misjudged it. This paragraph was originally going to be quite scathing, but I found out after cleaning there is actually a light inside the roaster (the clue being the button marked "light" on the panel. So maybe I was having a stupid day after all) however the bulb in this model wasn't working, I'm assuming it's just went during transit/usage or because it's a protoype, but I'll get that replaced today and I'm sure it'll be a help.

In summary, the Behmor 1600 is an innovative roaster which is intended to live in your kitchen, like any other appliance, with a wide range of temperature profiles and settings it more than makes up for over complicated instructions and will probably help you understand the coffee roasting process better anyway.

In the next part of my review I'll be looking at the pre-set curves and range of roasts available and then wrap up by comparing and cupping roasts against my other home roasters.

Remember these are just my initial thoughts and I will continue to make posts as I roast with it more.

Andrew Gribben @grib