Roasting Coffee Light in the Behmor Coffee Roaster

Our recommendation for roasting coffee light in the Behmor coffee roaster is easy to follow and with great results

(jump to our light roast instructions and video)

It’s easy to achieve a nice light roast in your Behmor 1600 and 2000 models with a little preparation, planning ahead, and of course, the proper roast setting. Below, we answer some basic questions about light roasts in general and outline our method for getting a nice, vibrant light roast from the Behmor coffee roaster.

What do we mean by “light roast”?

When we talk about “light roasts”, we’re generally referring to coffee that’s nearly through the 1st crack stage, and has loss roughly 12% of the green coffee’s moisture content (this is not exact)

Can I stop my roast before 1st crack is through?

Yes, and in the Behmor, we recommend you do. When you hit the “Cool” button, the Behmor’s cooling. cycle engages, but the roast continues to develop. Because of this, I like to stop the roast about 1 full minute into the 1st Crack stage.

Is the first audible snap I hear the beginning of 1st Crack?

That depends on the coffee. Some coffee, where density or bean size varies (a blend, for example), and sometimes for no obvious reason, will have a couple ‘pops’ before and after the body of the 1st Crack roast stage. I usually wait to tag the beginning of 1st Crack until I hear a succession of snaps start up.

What if I don’t start the cooling stage until the end of 1st Crack?

That’s fine, but you’ll be looking at more of a City+ roast level. This is still technically “light” by most roasting standards, but something to consider when trying to match up with cupping notes based that are based on a particular roast level.

Can I get a nice light roast coffee using the Behmor’s preset functions?

You can, but the roasts tend to run longer due to more frequent oscillation of the quartz heating elements, and longer roasts are going to be less dynamic in the cup. I prefer to roast at full power (P5) in manual mode. If you choose to use a preset, go with P1 since it’s the hottest preset profile.

Behmor 2000AB Plus -Sweet-Maria's
The latest Behmor coffee roaster model, the 2000AB Plus

The Behmor coffee roaster, a race against time:

No matter what your target roast level is, the length of your roast time is one of the more important factors to consider. Two coffees roasted to City roast level over vastly different lengths of time are going to taste quite different despite their similar appearance. Roast too long and you bake out sweetness and flatten acidity, too quickly and you risk scorching the exterior or a raw center of the bean.

In general, you don’t have to worry about roasting too fast on the Behmor coffee roaster and are much more likely to find yourself working to speed things up. That is why we recommend using the hottest setting for light roasting (and dark, for that matter), and trimming your batch size to about 150 grams.

Yes, you can physically roast more coffee. But not without sacrificing precious minutes, and potentially, cup complexity.

Here is our preferred method of roasting coffee light in the behmor coffee roaster:

  • Roast batch size should be around 150 grams in order to reach 1st Crack in a relatively short amount of time
  • Select the 1 LB setting to capitalize on the longer roast time and hit <Start>.
  • Enter manual mode by selecting <P5> after starting your roast and remain on <P5>, the hottest power setting (100%).
  • On the Behmor 1600 Plus, I have to watch my roaster temp sensor <B> in order to avoid triggering the high temp error and inevitable shutdown. 325F is where this occurs on my Behmor coffee roaster, but the range seems to be 325F to 331F for other roasters. When the <B> temp reaches 310F, reduce power to <P3>/50%, or <P4>/75% until the temperature starts to drop, then bump back up to <P5>. I toggle between these settings in order to keep the temperature high and the roast progressing steadily. So far, we haven’t experienced this issue on the Behmor 2000AB, AB Plus or 1600 with the upgraded panel.
  • To achieve a City roast level, take the roast a full minute into 1st Crack and then hit the cool button.
  • After one full minute I open the door to cool my batch more quickly. Chaff will fly around the room, so this is entirely up to you! – you can also use an auxiliary cooling method like this one if you feel adventurous.
If you’re more of a visual learner, check out our video on roasting light in the Behmor coffee roaster.

If you prefer dark roasts from your Behmor coffee roaster, check out this blog post instead.

14 Responses

  1. I appreciate your info on preheating the Behmor. I use P-1 until I get temp up to 150 then place drum and chaff try into roaster.But now that I read this article I will bump the temp up to 200 before I stop roaster to load drum.I noticed that roast times are cut down when you employ preheating.Glad I took time to read this article.Thanks for info.

    1. That’s exactly right, pre-heating = shorter roast time. Not by much, but it does make a difference. I think the biggest question is if it makes a large enough difference that you want to add the extra few minutes to your roasting regimen, and that’s a question for each individual.

      200 is safe, and even a little hotter. I haven’t toyed around with the top end of the “250” max number, but have safely brought mine up to 240 without the safety set point kicking in. I wouldn’t go too far above this though since the burners will continue to radiate heat after you stop the pre-heat cycle and load your roast batch.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Dan

  2. I have used this method and discovered that it tended to create a peculiar “whang” in the dry process coffees I roasted. I have no idea how to describe the smell or taste but it was off-putting. However, the strange smell and taste tended to dissipate over about 5 days, leaving the coffee much more pleasant. I tried this method hoping to regain the wonderful flavors I used to be able to get from Sulawesi coffee using my old Nesco roaster before it died. Since using my Behmor 1600 plus I haven’t been able to achieve that same wonderful flavor profile in Sulawesi coffee. I prefer lighter roasts and will keep experimenting.

    1. Hey Stacy, thanks for sharing your experience trying to replicate the Sulawesi cup flavors. One thing that came to mind reading this is that so much of the flavor depends on the particular coffee. Even coffee from the same farm or washing station can taste wildly different from one year to the next. I know you probably realize that, but just worth saying out loud as I have also experienced that disappointment when a specific coffee doesn’t quite meet my expectations. But if it is roast related, it would be good to try and track down what’s different between the two (outside of the obvious that one is air roasted, the other one drum). I, too, prefer lighter roasts, mainly because I’m trying to highlight acidity. Washed Sulawesi’s can have really nice acidity, and I think a faster roast in the Behmor would achieve this.

      Even though a dry process Ethiopia is a very different coffee in terms of processing and flavor, I would also try to shorten roast time by trimming the batch size to around 200-250 grams, pre-heating the roaster, and using the hottest heat setting in manual mode. A long roast, even when stopped at City level, is going to bake out some of the sweetness and fruited complexity.

      Apologies if you already know all of this! I’m just trying to think of what could be restraining that cup profile. I’m glad to hear the cup settles in with rest at least.

      Best

      -Dan

  3. First of all, thank you for this informative article. I look forward to trying your suggestions.

    I have a question about one of your responses having to do with roasting dry processed coffees. I feel like I have heard so many conflicting ideas, so I am trying to understand. One credible roaster described how they roast a Panama dry processed coffee by using high heat until the coffee completes the drying phase, but once it yellows, to significantly drop the heat so that it brings out the sweetness. Then, once first crack begins, drop heat even more with a very low rate of rise to extend first crack and further develop sweetness.

    I am wondering if there is any common agreement in the coffee roasting world about getting the best out of dry processed coffees. When they roast well, they are my favorite, but I have to admit, my results have been inconsistent in the Behmor. How much of it depends on where they are from? Is there one method that will give me what I want most often?

    Thanks!

    1. Hey there Aaron,

      Thanks for submitting your question about roasting dry process coffee. My quick answer is, I don’t think there’s a “one size fits all” approach to roasting DP, unless we’re talking about it in terms of safety. But for highlighting flavors, you can take a few different paths.

      I agree with the general idea that a slower roast profile will highlight sweetness, though too long will bake it out altogether. There’s a bit of a balancing act here, and finding that outer threshold of what is “too long” will depend on the person to a large degree. For me, I try to complete my roasts in 13 min or less. I like the cup complexity and acidity that come with a faster roast, and so my go-to roast profile is manual mode, maximum heat all the way up until 1st Crack. I try to slow things down a bit right around or at 1st C in order to keep the coffee from taking off once it becomes exothermic. The degree to which I slow it down will depend on if it’s a high grown, dense coffee or not. That speaks to your correct assumption that coffee origin (maybe more specifically, altitude) plays some role in roast treatment.

      I would suggest trying a fairly simple roast profile and adjust as needed to try and get the cup you’re after. If you try the longer approach that you mentioned and the coffee lacks dimension, go at it with higher heat all the way up until 1st C, then drop to P3 or P4 for the finish and see if that gets you closer. If you’re roasts are still taking 15+ minutes to finish, maybe scale back batch size to speed things up even more.

      I hope this helps get you closer to a sort of “base profile” that you can start with. I have to admit, as versatile as the Behmor is, my changes from one coffee to the next are pretty minimal, and most get the same treatment.

      Shoot over any other questions you might have Aaron.

      -Dan

  4. Dan, thanks for the advice, and for Aaron’s question and your response. I think your method of dropping to P3 or P4 at about first crack is a great idea for me to try. First, I do have to say that I was ordering the Sulawesi from a different provider from Sweet Maria’s so that may actually be the simple reason. I always roast half pound batches as I discovered early on that the behmor produces very inconsistent colors with a full pound in the drum. If I can catch Sulawesi in stock with Sweet Maria’s I will definitely grab some and give it another go. I’ve always been confused as to why the Behmor has these different pre-programmed roast profiles if they aren’t really needed. Is there a circumstance that P3 should be used?

    1. Hey Stacy,

      Dropping the temp will help keep your roast from taking off when you hit 1st Crack. It’s not totally necessary, but the high heat of P5 can lead to going darker than you intend once the beans start to fracture and release heat. And your roast will continue to develop at the beginning of the cooling cycle (if you cool in the chamber), lowering the heat input will help mitigate that to some degree.

      The preset profiles are useless for my needs as well, but I think there are a lot of people who would prefer the automation than having to fuss with manual controls. They’re also an artifact of the original model, and I think it’s nice to have that consistent across the different iterations. But I too only roast in manual mode.

      Back to Sulawesi, the last coffee we had was a wet hulled process, which will be completely different than any of the wet process/washed Sulawesi’s we’ve carried. The latter will be the ‘light and bright’ type, whereas wet hulled is going to have more of an earthy flavor profile like your typical Sumatra. We happen to have a container from Indonesia landing any day now and hope to have our first Sulawesi listed at the end of the month, or beginning of March. It’s tough to estimate the turnaround from the port with all the freight congestion and labor shortages at the moment.

      If you’re interested in specifics, you can check out the list of incoming coffees here.

      Thanks again for your comments Stacy! Happy to try and help you dial in a Behmor profile that works for you.

      Best,
      Dan

  5. Thanks for this post! It was super helpful. I tried to follow the process but a few minutes into it when the exhaust fan kicked on, it dropped the temperature all the way down to 260 degrees and it struggled to get back up to temperature. I gave it a few minutes but it wouldn’t budge past 285 and it was producing a ton of smoke and set off my smoke alarms (in the garage with the door open). Is there something I’m doing wrong/need to change with my technique? I’m not sure why the temperature dropped so drastically and I’m wondering if that’s normal.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Erika!

      I’ll start by saying that I wrote this post using an unmodified 1600 Plus, and the temperature readings do seem to differ with the faster refresh that the upgrade panel/processor offers. Even so, now that I’m using an upgraded machine that is consistent with the new 2000 AB Plus, my times/benchmarks are in line with what’s in the post, even if my temperature readings are not.

      The Behmor exhaust fan should kick in at 7 minutes 30 seconds into the roast, if I’m not mistaken. The temperature does drop quite a bit at this point as the exhaust is pulling hot air from the roasting chamber. That said, I don’t think the chamber probe readings are accurate once it kicks in and can’t exactly be trusted for accuracy (they’re already inaccurate due to proximity to the burners, but I still think serve as a useful tool for tracking progress….until the fan kicks in!).

      Before upgrading my Behmor, I had to monitor the chamber temp so that I didn’t tip the 320-330 safety feature that will shut down the roast cycle. I don’t to have that problem with the upgraded roaster since my readings never seem to break 315F. After talking with Joe Behmor about this, I’m convinced my roaster still roasts just as hot, but that the readings are lower with the upgraded panel and processor. Hope that makes sense.

      Are you able to hit first crack in the same time frame listed in my blog post using the same batch size?

      Thanks again for your comment. It’s a reminder that it needs updating!

  6. Your preferred method for light roasts does not mention preheating the roaster. Is that right – no preheating for light roasts?

    1. Personally, I haven’t found it necessary, since I seem to hit the City roast with a good range of times from 10:00 to 12:00 depending on the batch size and coffee. If I was doing a 1 Lb batch I would preheat but normally I am doing 1/2 Lb. If you find the roast too slow to first crack, then definitely do some preheating. Mostly we have used preheating as a way to get advance the roast and hit darker roast levels in the end…

  7. Thanks Dan! Your excellent and informative video educated me on the things an experienced roaster looks for to achieve the roast desired. Many thanks. I get excellent roasts on my Behmor but would like to work on my consistency and ability to extract wonderful cup characteristics. This gives me several fun things to try. : D I used to roast 1/2 lb batches usually on p3, c and stop when the cracking gets going well. I’ve started roasting 1 lb batches since I give a good bit to friends who like it (maybe they just like free coffee! Ha ha!) but I have noticed the 1/2 lb roasts were more exciting and flavorful. Occasionally I would hit the lottery on a half pounder and get a great chocolatey or intensely flavored roast that was wonderful though the larger batches are good but not usually excellent. I do dislike over roasted coffee that tastes burnt, flat and ‘rustic’ which I used to get at some ‘famous’ coffee bars or in commercial store brands which is why I roast my own. Can’t wait to try manual on lighter batches!

    1. Hi Frank,

      Glad to hear you found this post info useful! I love roasting in the Behmor, partly because you have the choice of making the process as simple, or as complex as you want it to be. Personally, I’m all about ease, and find that in manual mode once you get the hang of it. A note on batch size, I know roasting a full pound serves the need of having that extra coffee for friends, but the trade off is longer roast times, which will flatten out the cup. I’m not saying don’t roast a full pound, but maybe it’s better suited for more basic, bittersweet coffees, rather than your bright and fruited Ethiopia or Kenya. Also, I’d steer clear of roasting a full pound of dry process, or even honey process for that matter, as the volume of chaff produced can be a fire hazard.

      Happy roasting!

      Dan

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