One of the questions I get asked a lot from people when they find out I’m into coffee is “so do you roast your own beans?” I mean I get why most people would ask a question like that. I love coffee, and I love the whole process of coffee’s journey from farm to cup. And I know for coffee-lovers, there are a number of home roasting machines out there, from 20 dollar popcorn air-poppers to home units that can cost well into the thousand dollar range.
But if I’m honest, it’s an area of specialty coffee that has intimidated me a bit. And as well, I’m kind of a sucker for discovering roasters from across the world and seeing what other talented folks have been able to create. Just look at my collection of bags from 2018. I have the utmost respect for coffee roasters, and I am proud to call a very talented one (Stacey from Pallet Coffee Roasters), my friend. A couple of summers back we hung out for an afternoon at the Pallet Coffee Roastery and I watched in awe as she did her thing! She’s a freaking genius. I pretty much just sat next to the drum picking out quakers! LOL. But she taught me a lot. And it was an incredible experience to soak up her vast knowledge. So if you’re reading this, thanks Stacey! And congrats on your back-to-back BEST ROASTER “Snobbie” award from Vancouver Coffee Snob. You deserve it.
So fast forward a couple of years and my coffee-loving buddy Josh calls me up to let me know he got a Behmor 1600+ home-roaster for Christmas. Needless to say I was a bit jealous, and a bit curios what it would be like to roast some beans at home. So a few days ago we connected up to spend an evening roasting coffee. What an amazing machine! I have seen these in action before on social media, and even had a buddy who–when he first started up his cafe–did all his bean roasting on a Behmor! But I had yet to spend any time actually roasting with one. I grabbed a half-pound of some Ethiopian Guji and Josh walked me through how it all works. It’s quite an easy machine to work with. The controls are very intuitive, and what really impressed me was the lack of smoke. Behmor makes it clear that their patent-pending smoke suppression system can allow you to roast even on your kitchen counter (which we did). The only thing we did was roast near the hood fan from the stove to help get rid of some of the smoke near the end of the roasting process.
The Behmor 1600+ comes with 5 pre-programmed roast settings or manual roasting override ability and has the capacity to roast up to 1lb of green coffee beans. We went full-manual and I have to agree I like having that level of full control over the process. Not that pre-programmed settings are a bad thing, but it makes more sense to me to pay attention to each step in the roasting process. I think it also helps you to be less lazy, and to really have to be “dialled-in” when roasting. (sorry for the lame coffee joke!).
Clean up after each roast was as easy as taking my buddy’s Dyson hand-vac and sucking out the chaff. Make sure for cooling the beans, that you get your hands on a couple of stainless steel strainers to effectively cool them down as quickly as possible. The Behmor does come with a built-in cool-down feature but from what many say in the online communities, you want to get those beans out and cooled down ASAP. I would tend to agree.
We did three roasts that evening and I brought some of the final product home with me. What blows my mind is that I am sitting here typing this up, and sipping on a cup of coffee from the beans that we roasted a few days ago…and it tastes good! Now maybe I shouldn’t be totally shocked, but if there was ever an experience that took some of my intimidation away, and made me think again about jumping into home-roasting this time on the Behmor 1600+ certainly did the trick.
All in all it was a lot of fun. And I think that’s what home-roasting should be. If anyone has an extra $500 laying around that you want to give me I’d be your forever-friend! If you want to grab one of these, I would suggest connecting up with the folks over at Pre-Umber. They are located just outside of Ponoka, Alberta. I’m always happy to champion Alberta-based businesses. And this one is also owned by family of close friends of mine.