The Behmor 1600 Plus Customizable Drum Coffee Roaster Review
Do you long to have complete control over your coffee? If you already grind your own beans, taking care to discover the perfect consistency and brew time to deliver the perfect cup of coffee… maybe it is time to take it to the next level and roast your own beans.
SUMMARY: The Behmor 1600 Plus Coffee Roaster
- High degree of control
- Steep learning curve
- Easy to clean
“I've tried four different home roasters. This one is by far the best. Not many tabletop roasters can do 1lb, this one can. And with manual and automatic settings, anyone can use it from beginner and up. Anyone thinking of this purchase, do it.” - Briana W., customer
The Behmor 1600 Plus Coffee Bean Roaster Review
The Behmor 1600 comes with pre-programmed settings for the quantity and type of bean you’re roasting, which lets you get started very quickly. The controls can be a little confusing, with a control panel that doesn’t always lend itself to quick decoding. You’ll want to keep the user manual at hand, especially as you’re dialing in the roast you want to achieve. However, once you’re familiar with the Behmor 1600, you’ll find that you can change the heat levels, time, and other functions easily.
One feature that the Behmor 1600 Plus gets unfair negativity about is its Auto-Safe feature. The Behmor is not a fully automated machine and requires the user to be present, monitoring the progression of the beans. Once the machine is 75% of the way through the roasting process it will prompt the user to press “start.” If no one presses start within 30 seconds it will abort the roast and enter into the cooling cycle.
This feature means you might return to find your machine prematurely in the cooling cycle if you leave the machine unattended. However, this makes it less likely that you’ll return to a kitchen engulfed in flames from over-roasted coffee beans! Personally, I think this feature is an important safety feature and I appreciate its inclusion.
Ease of Use 3/5
The Behmor 1600 Plus Coffee Bean Roaster does a lot of things well, but calling it easy to use is a stretch. But then again - you weren't expecting home roasting to be hands off, were you? If so, why roast yourself in the first place?
Where it excels is its excellent build quality. The mesh of the roasting drum is tight and prevents all but the smallest beans from escaping. The clever spring-loaded mechanism on the chaff tray allows it to be inserted easily into the machine while still providing a tight fit. Some reviewers have noted that roasting drum can be inserted incorrectly, so care must be taken to ensure the drum is well seated.
Unfortunately, the smoke suppression, the display screen, and the control panel all leave something to be desired.
Despite having a built-in smoke suppression system, numerous user reviews mention that it is still too smoky to use indoors. Some users report that roasting coffee indoors set off their smoke alarms or left an unpleasant and lingering odor. This problem can be mitigated by placing the roaster near or underneath an exhaust fan or range hood, but that might not be an easy or feasible task.
The built-in cord is only 4’ long which means if your kitchen is short on power outlets you might not be able to get the unit placed near a vent. Furthermore, the Behmor 1600 Plus’ instruction manual warns that the device cannot be used with an extension cord or be placed within 18” of any walls or cabinets (both horizontally and vertically) making it difficult to use on most kitchen counters (1).
“Use only on a stable, heat-resistant surface. Place the Behmor 1600 Plus at least 18” inches (46cm) from ALL walls or cabinets and have at least 18” inches (46cm) clearance above unit, this is to include exhaust cover and vent holes.” - Behmor 1600 Plus Operation Manual
These limitations have led many users to operate their roasters outside or in their garages which is also prohibited by the user manual! If you ignore the bit about outdoor use, be warned: the screen washes out in bright light and becomes hard to read.
The last ease of use problem is the control panel’s interface is arcane.
The Profiles buttons call up preset roasting profiles, with P1 offering the hottest roast and P5 the coolest. Once you start a program you can enter into manual mode by pressing any of the preset buttons, however, this time P5 is the hottest setting and P1 turns the heating element off.
In Automatic mode, ABCD add time to the preset profiles, but only until the roast has begun. After the roast has begun, A and B show temperatures from the built-in thermometers, C resets the timer to a length based on your current profile, and D changes the drum speed. Confused yet? Basically, keep the manual handy!
If you want something easier to handle, check out the FreshRoast sr5400 coffee roaster.
Roasting Capacity 4/5
The Behmor 1600 can roast up to 1 pound of coffee beans, which gives it an edge over some less expensive roasters. However, some users report that when loaded with a full pound of coffee even medium roasts can be challenging to achieve. The controls let you select from ¼. ½, or 1 pound of beans, and the roast profiles range from the hottest, P1, to the coolest, P5. The half-point it loses is due to the inconsistency of roasting for larger volumes without making manual correction.
Roast Quality 4/5
Ultimately, a coffee roaster’s mission in life is to roast coffee well. And in this regard, the Behmor 1600 Plus does well, albeit with some minor minor caveats.
This roaster loses a point because it’s not able to obtain dark roasts like Italian, French or Vienna. However, if you have a wonderful single-origin bean, you might want to consider avoiding super dark roasts anyway. Darker roasts tend to have reduced acidity and fruitiness, both of which are elements that often define a bean’s regional characteristics (2).
If you enjoy espresso you aren’t necessarily out of luck. Espresso machines can make great coffee out of medium roasts, it just may require some additional experimentation.
For light roasts, the general consensus is that the Behmor does an excellent job. The machine offers a great degree of customization, including drum speed and cooling cycle duration.
Roasting Time 4.5/5
The Behmor loses half a point here because roasting takes longer than some of the new fluid-bed roasters, but part of that is because of the larger capacity (1 pound). It can take up to about 40 minutes, from beginning to end, including cooling down the beans.
The Behmor comes with several roasting profiles, which include time and temperature settings. The profiles base their time on the weight of the coffee beans you are roasting; in addition, you can increase the roasting time in increments of 15 seconds, as well as decrease the roasting time in increments of 10 seconds. Overall, this flexibility gives you a lot of control over the finished product - which is really what a home roaster is all about.
Coffee roasting is a labor of love, but that doesn’t mean you love cleaning. Thankfully the Behmor does a good job making cleaning easy. The built-in chaff tray fits tightly to the roasting drum and catches most of the chaff. Behmor recommends you clean your unit after every 5 uses. The cleaning process itself is straightforward and mostly entails a quick spritz with a non-toxic, non-abrasive degreaser like Simple Green.
The manufacturer recommends a more thorough cleaning every four months that involves removing 11 Philips head screws - not challenging, but the Behmor loses a point because this part of the process is perhaps more difficult than it had to be.
Sweet Marias does a great breakdown of the Behmor. I'd suggest you take the time to watch it before investing:
Do Not Buy If…
You want to roast more than a pound of coffee at a time
If we are being generous, this machine’s capacity is 1 pound. Realistically your best results will be had if you roast 12 ounces of beans at a time. But, keep in mind that bulk roasts aren’t necessarily the right approach anyway. Roasting your own coffee means you get to enjoy your beans at peak freshness. Taking degassing time into consideration you probably only want to roast as much coffee as you can drink in 4 days (3).
If you need to roast more coffee beans than this you are unfortunately out of luck in this price range. One pound is the largest that home coffee roasters go, and commercial coffee roasters will set you back several thousand dollars.
You want an automated experience
Much like a manual espresso machine, roasting coffee beans yourself gives you the most control possible over your brew. However, this control is a time-consuming labor of love. Coffee roasting is science, but it is also art.
Each and every time you roast a batch of beans you’ll need to pay attention to the beans. Missing the sound of first crack could spell disaster for your roast (4).
There aren’t currently any automated home coffee roasters on the market. The Nesco CR1010 was the closest option available, but has been discontinued (possibly due to its tendency for key components to melt).
If you are committed to the work and don’t mind a medium or light roast then the Behmor 1600 Plus is a great option. It allows a great degree of customization and is easy to clean, albeit at the cost of considerable complexity. And if you happen to have zero to minimal experience in roasting beans, read our tips on roasting at home.
However, if you think this isn't the right roaster for you, see our reviews of other home coffee roasters here.
Is the Behmor 1600 Plus a good value?
The Behmor 1600 Plus is a good value compared to competing drum roasters. Be sure to look at Behmor’s websites for authorized retailers. Currently, Amazon (not an authorized retailer) is selling the Behmor 1600 Plus for more than double what it costs from authorized retailers.
Is the Behmor 1600 Plus safe to use?
The Behmor 1600 Plus is safe to use as long as you monitor the roasting process. Just as with other hot kitchen appliances, a degree of awareness is required to roast coffee beans safely.
- Behmor. (2014). Behmor 1600 Plus Roaster Operation Manual. http://www.behmor.com/docs/Operation-Manual-V8.1-P-L-Plus.Full.pdf
- Belchior, V. (2019, March 18). What Happens During Coffee Roasting: The Physical Changes. Retrieved from https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2019/03/what-happens-during-coffee-roasting-the-physical-changes/
- Molina, A. (2019, March 22). Why Does Coffee Degas & What Does It Mean For Brewers & Roasters? Retrieved from https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2019/01/degassing-why-does-coffee-degas-what-does-it-mean-for-brewers-roasters/
- Pines, H. (2019, July 14). Roasting For Filter Coffee vs. For Espresso. Retrieved from https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2019/07/roasting-for-filter-coffee-vs-for-espresso/