The Behmor is Built to Last: Reviving a Behmor 1600

The only tools needed to fix this tough old Behmor 1600 were elbow grease and cleaner.

Just how tough are Behmor coffee roasters? How about we let this poorly maintained Behmor answer that question.

This first generation 1600 is well over a decade old, and has logged hundreds of roasts through the years. An impressive run for almost any home roasting machine. It was presented over the phone to me as “broken”, unable to reach 1st Crack no matter how much time was added to the roast cycle. Destined for the trash heap, I hurried over to take a closer look.

Sure enough, a quick inspection of the filthy interior told a much different story. Caked on smoke and oil residue looked to be a possible source of the problem, and I was pretty sure a good cleaning would go a very long way given the Behmor’s impressive resiliency this type of abuse.

Don't let your roaster look like this! Inside a badly abused Behmor 1600 that miraculously still functions after a good cleaning.
Don’t let your roaster look like this! Inside a badly abused Behmor 1600 that miraculously still functions after a good cleaning.

The Behmor’s heating coils are regulated by a thermistor mounted on the other side of the inside-right sidewall (when facing the machine). If you don’t keep this area clean, the sensor won’t be able to read the temperature inside the roast chamber, causing the roast times to get progressively longer the dirtier it gets. That’s why it’s paramount to regularly wipe this area down with a little Simple Green, and also run a dry burn every few roasts (especially if you roast dark).

But cleaning should not end there! Sadly, this laymen-level maintenance is forgone more than you might think, and winds up taking it’s toll on a lot of roasters. We see it all the time in machines returned to us as “defective”, when it’s quite obvious they just weren’t taken care of.

Not much more is needed to maintain a healthy roaster. No special tools or skills required!
Not much more is needed to maintain a healthy roaster. No special tools or skills required!

Unfortunately, neglect often reaches a tipping point that many roasters don’t come back from. But the Behmor is incredibly durable, with a very high threshold to this type of abuse when compared to other roasters in its class (or otherwise). That doesn’t mean you should buy one so you can be a careless owner! But if you do happen to find your Behmor is underperforming, try giving it a good cleaning before deciding its given up the ghost.

For step-by-step cleaning instructions go HERE.

Check out our video where we breathe life back into this poorly treated Behmor 1600:

18 Responses

  1. Interesting how you resurrected the roaster. Is a used 1600 a good starter roaster? I’m looking at one that looks like new.
    Thnx

    1. I think any Behmor will make a good starter roaster, and you just might find that it’s the last roaster you ever buy! They tick off so many boxes; good batch size (I don’t go above 1/2 lb. personally, even though you can), fairly easy to use, and as long as you don’t abuse them and keep them clean, they should stand the test of time.

      That said, you should have them roast a batch while you’re there to make sure that it’s functioning as it should. If it’s as clean as you say, I imagine it does.

      You should check out our Behmor resource page if you need help making that decision.

      Cheers,
      Dan

    2. I have a ~10 year ole Behmor 1600 I upgraded to a 1600 Plus. Worked on it a few times with the help of the responsive technical support. I probably roast 12 oz twice a week; roasting to second crack. Love my Behmor and Sweet Maria’s greens. And my Izzo Alex espresso machine.

    3. That’s so awesome to hear John, and been our experience with the Behmor as well. It’s one tough roaster!

      -Dan

  2. Hello and Happy Saturday! I purchased a Behmor 1600+ from SM in 2015 – upgrading from a popcorn popper – and never looked back. Works as good today after 700+ pounds through it as it did the first time. I roast SM green beans for myself, son and daughter. about 3lbs a week give or take. I started out with smaller batches to learn – but have been roasting 1lb batches for years. Regular maintenance is key to keeping it fully operational.
    I use the Technivorm KBT-741 – 10 CUP Thermal Brewer – ordered from SM as well.
    You will not be disappointed with a Behmor roaster.
    Enjoy the Day!
    Billy

    1. 700+ pounds, wow! Incredible Billy. Glad to hear it’s held up its end of the bargain 🙂

      Cheers,
      -Dan

  3. I still have a first generation Behmor that I used for 10 years and logged 500+ roasts with. I kept it clean and it never gave me any problems. I “upgraded” to a Quest M3 a few years ago but still have the Behmor as a backup and as a loaner to friends that I’ve taught to home roast. A “try it before you buy it” arrangement. As a result a couple students ended up buying their own Behmors. One of the best appliances I’ve ever owned.

    1. Glad to hear your 1600 is still chugging along after so many years! I also use Quests regularly myself, though obviously a significant jump in price. It’s great that you can give prospective home-roasters a taste of the hobby. I think about half of the friends who have reached out to me about getting started are still roasting. It’s certainly not for everyone, and I think a lot of folks figure that out on their first roast. Thanks for chiming in with your experience Danny.

      Best,
      Dan

  4. Dan,
    I recently found this recent video of Joe Behm talking about his Behmor roaster and how to use it. He has some great tips and describes an underutilized function that the Behmor has plus, importantly, how to make roasting simple. He also gets into maintenance and some of the programs Behmor has for coffee producing countries with poor populations. It’s a wonderful, SIMPLE, uplifting and informative video that I think, as a pro, you will enjoy as much as my amateur self! I love my Behmor by the way and do a simple type of roast on it now that I’m more experienced. It, with my help of course, makes great tasting coffee just the way I like it! Ha ha!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1UZdciAjhc

    1. Thanks Frank, great video! “Keep it simple”…wiser words have never been spoken!

      Cheers,

  5. I did the bucket of hot water with Cafiza to soak the drum and chaff tray and wow, did that work great. The metal blade like structures inside the drum had turned nearly black. I did have to use a wire brush to help get some of it off, but the Cafiza solution had softened it significantly. Both pieces wound up like factory new. I’ll get some simple green and try that on the inside. I had previously been using denatured alcohol but it doesn’t remove residue as good as I had hoped.

    1. Hey Terry, glad you’re happy with the results! Saves soooooo much scrubbing (and frustration!).

      Best,
      Dan

  6. Got my Behmor Plus in Nov. of 2014. Over 500 roasts later, still going strong, and I am still learning new tricks with it. Thanks for SM’s Behmor support over the years.

    1. We love these stories, and thankfully there are a lot of them! The Behmor is typically tough stuff, as long as you keep it clean.

      Cheers David.

      -Dan

  7. I bought my Behmor 1600 back in 2013. I have been somewhat anal about keeping track of all my roasts. As of today, I have logged in 617 roasts, all from green coffees from sweetmaria’s. I usually roast 13 oz batches. I usually do a cleaning with Simple Green and a dry burn every 10 roasts or so (the manual says to do this every 5 roasts, here my laziness trumps my anal-ness). I have done a “deep cleaning” 3 or 4 times, and managed to get the machine back together each time. I’m hoping this thing keeps going, but if not, I would not hesitate to order an updated Behmor.

    1. Wow, that’s incredible! So glad to hear your 1600 is still running strong. Keeping the roaster clean is ESSENTIAL for longevity, and such a simple step. Thanks for sharing your experience!

      Cheers Thomas.

      -Dan

  8. I’ll admit I didn’t go to the Behmor video referenced in another comment yet, but will. I’ve had my current iteration for about 7 years….and while it’s pretty clean inside, the reflector surface behind/around the heating elements are starting to discolor. I see you spraying some solution on the inside, but hesitate to try that without first asking – is that safe? will that help restore the reflectivity? Thank you for such an informative site, all of the videos and creating such a fantastic hub of community.

    1. It’s a good question … and I think we have some different approaches here at Sweet Maria’s. Dan used the Roaster cleaner called Sprayz – I (Tom) prefer not clean that because I don’t want to use anything liquid, even if its made for the purpose. I don’t think the net gain of the reflective surface being clean is really worth it, effort, cost wise (Sprayz is not cheap, and not even currently available) or using any liquid to clean that area.

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