Behmor AB Plus coffee roaster review

Behmor AB Plus coffee roaster review
7/10

Summary

Behmor AB Plus coffee roaster review

Longtime coffee fiend CHARLES JAMESON got a yearning to roast his own beans. Read about his experiences with a popular home roaster.

$700

BEHMOR AB Plus coffee roaster review
Roasting underway! 200g of beans, P3 setting and internal light switched on.

 

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If you’ve ever had a hankering to roast coffee beans at home, the affordable Behmor AB Plus home coffee roasting machine is one reasonably good option to consider. Roasted coffee beans taste their best between about three and 30 days after roasting. And if you roast beans yourself, you can also roast and blend beans you like, in a way that suits your taste preferences. Awesome!

While overall the Behmor AB Plus is pretty good operationally it does, however, have a couple of issues to be aware of.

The first issue is fairly minor but annoying – the Behmor’s rather sloppy user manual, which looks and reads like a bad first draft. While it’s not unreadable, it’s not exactly a good look

BEHMOR AB Plus coffee roaster reviewA more significant issue is a known error in the machine’s electrical wiring relating to internal fans. I bought mine in Australia and had to fix the problem myself. The ‘solution’ to this wiring issue, from official Aussie Behmor distributor CoffeeSnobs, is to take off the machine’s casing and swap two wires around so that the Behmor AB Plus fans operate correctly. Easier said than done.

Green Bean House, New Zealand distributors of the Behmor AB Plus, tell us that they fix this problem themselves, which makes it nice and easy for less technical customers. Phew!

Here’s an article about how to check and fix this issue, should you find yourself with a machine that has this problem.

Since the fix, my Behmor AB Plus has worked pretty flawlessly. Touch wood.

I’ve used it to roast Indian, Ethiopian, Peruvian and Brazilian beans I bought from CoffeeSnobs. I roasted them in various ways using various settings on the machine, resulting in light, medium and dark roasts. Settings for a nice roast for Brazilian turned out almost charcoal when applied to Peruvian. Each bean set is different. And I also tailor my roast options for my end result – double shot flat whites using my Breville Infuser home espresso machine. Check my review of that on Witchdoctor.

BEHMOR AB Plus coffee roaster reviewHome roasting has benefits. As well as cost savings, you can roast exactly the beans you love the taste of (in my case, dark roasted Brazilian) and roast them as light or dark as you prefer. Darker gives a richer, fuller flavour – and a lot more ‘bite’ in terms of taste.

Bite generally works best in milk-based coffee drinks (latte, flat white) because it ‘cuts through’ the milk taste. On the flip side, medium or light-roasted beans generally favour plunger and filter coffee. Dark roast ‘bite’ is not needed so much because less milk is used in plunger/filter options. But it’s just fine to mix up mid and mild roasts with the dark ones to create your own favourite combo, and this Behmore AB (AB standing for ‘All Black’ BTW) is a great tool for creating your own set of roasts.

The Behmor AB Plus is about the size and weight of a compact microwave oven. It has two main removable components, and these sit inside the machine during roasting.

First, is the mesh cylinder with a pop-up lid and internal flanges to help keep the beans stirred up. You load up the cylinder with green beans prior to roasting. You can plonk in either 100, 200 or a maximum 400 grams of green beans into the cylinder. The other item is the stainless steel mesh tray which distributes the heat and collects some of the ‘chaff’ beans typically discard during the roasting process.

The Behmor’s general roasting process is pretty straightforward. Ideally, it should be plugged-in and used outdoors due to fumes and occasional smoke puffs. If you run it indoors, put it near an open window or (even better) beneath an extractor fan on full blast; for instance, one above a stovetop.

BEHMOR AB Plus coffee roaster reviewThis morning I weighed up 200g of Brazilian beans using kitchen scales, then poured the beans into the Behmor’s mesh cylinder and placed the cylinder in the machine. The steel tray goes in afterwards. The tray has a crossbar handle, which you need to press down slightly before pushing it towards the mesh cylinder, as part of the tray needs to fold down and go under the cylinder.

Then we just close the Behmor’s front door and choose a few settings on the front panel. First up, in this case, I click 200g. Then I choose which ‘Program’ to use: P1 through to P5 Each Program uses different amounts of heat at different stages of the roasting session. The Behmor user manual shows graphs for each Program, and suggests bean origins for each. In practice, I have found (for me) that P2 or P3 are best.

Once you’ve chosen the P number, click Start, and away things go! The cylinder rotates and heat elements in the back of the chamber warm up and glow. For 200g on P3, the roasting phase is about (up to) 12 minutes, along with eventual automatic migration to 13 minutes of cooling time. There’s also a button to activate a light inside the machine so you can see just how green or brown the coffee is as things move forward.

Behmor’s rather clunky user manual rightly says you must not just ‘set and forget’ once roasting starts, because there are safety risks during roasting phase. So you must pay close attention to your roasting phase the whole way through. Don’t wander off! And be aware that for safety reasons, the machine will beep at you about three-quarters of the way through its roasting journey. And if you don’t click the Start button again at that point, the Behmor will end it’s roasting.

Why? Well, if the roasting is unattended, the beans could catch fire! And so users must pay attention. Things are not so critical once the Behmor enters its cooling phase. The 12-minute roasting phase for P3 might need to be manually shortened (just clicking the Cool button) or extended (Plus or Minus buttons) by you.

Mmm, beans!

There are two key well-known audible coffee roasting milestone to be aware of – ‘first crack’ and ‘second crack.’ Both are basically the sounds of the beans popping. First crack is a mild low volume pop. You hear first crack pops about 5-10 seconds apart, and not all that often.

About 2-4 minutes later, roughly, second crack kicks in. It is much louder, and sounds like a lot of popcorn going ballistic all of a sudden: pop-pop-pop-pop! Second crack is when the beans are at their near pinnacle of dark roast, and how long you roast beyond that point is super critical. Too long and you could end up with charcoal flavoured beans if it goes for too long. Or the beans could catch fire!

Me, I listen out and try to hit the cooling button as soon as I hear second crack starting. Because even when cooling starts, cracking will continue, cos the beans are still super hot at that point.

Once cooling is underway, you can optionally open the Behmor’s front door to let more hot air out and thus maybe speed up cooling. Some chaff will float out, and different beans have different amounts of chaff. Cooling phase automatically ends after about 13 minutes for P3 200g. The Behmor stops. Then it’s just a matter of carefully removing the tray and mesh cylinder, and pouring the beans into a sealable airtight bag (ideally with a one-way outgoing vent) and leaving them for about three days before using them to make a cup of coffee.

Overall, the Behmor is fairly easy to operate. It has quite a few additional customisation features I’ve not mentioned because I don’t use them. Well, at least not yet! The machine is easy to operate and has a good combination of automation and manual control.

But, the wiring issue is significant. And if you’re thinking of buying one, make sure this issue is either solved or solvable. The issue simply means the fans are not working correctly.

www.greenbeanhouse.co.nz

Would you like to support our mission to bring intelligence, insight and great writing to entertainment journalism? Help to pay for the coffee that keeps our brains working and fingers typing just for you. Witchdoctor, entertainment for grownups. Your one-off $5 or $10 donation will support Witchdoctor.co.nz. and help us keep producing quality content.

It’s really easy to donate, just click the ‘Become a supporter’ button below.

 

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