Mike has roasted with the Behmor 1600+ for several months and put in lots of hours on it. He’s experimented with various beans from all over the world and delivered some tasty coffee. Light roasts, dark roasts, different roast and cooling times, he’s done it all- and all the while trying to follow Scott Rao’s guidelines while injecting his own style. Scott’s book The Roaster’s Companion has been instrumental in our (and especially Mike’s) journey.
But you can only do so much with the Behmor. Mike’s not fighting its limitations any more. He’s embraced them. But if your roaster is limited, you are limited as a roaster. That makes sense. We also want to increase our roast output. We’re limited there as well. That puts us, and maybe you, in a little bit of a conundrum. Do you go for more features, more size, or both?
The Current Set-Up. The Behmor 1600+ comes in a great price point: $369, plus shipping, taxes, green beans, etc. form Sweet Maria’s. The way ours is configured cost over $500 with all the tools and trays Mike uses. But it’s “easy to use, has smoke suppression technology, and has a batch size of up to a pound at a time.” It’s probably the best, most affordable, at-home drum roaster available, and allows some manual roasting options in addition to its pre-set roast profiles. Cooling efficiently is the biggest challenge, and Mike has experimented greatest in this area.
The Question of Features. Mike’s desire is to be able to further customize his roast profile- temperature, airflow, and cooling. The Behmor, because of its safety settings and inherent limitations, makes this challenging. The Hottop KN-8828B-2K+, also available from Sweet Maria’s, is also a home roaster. It has more features and is preferable for a roaster trying to get a better roast and cooling cycle down. The downside? It’s more than three times as much, at just over $1,600, and it has a smaller batch size of half a pound.
The Question of Volume. So, since we want to go up in size and yet keep the roasting project in the house (or garage), what are the options? Usually the increase in size brings with it an increase in features and price. Enter the S7, from Stronghold. Nick Brown at Daily Coffee News broke this story in December, 2016. The S7 has a batch size of 1.8 pounds (850 grams), “optimized” electric heatings, a drum tower, and is supposed to be available in the US in 2017. Not sure what the price is or who is even going to import this beauty from Korea, but it’s worth keeping our eyes on. The current website promises the ability to avoid tri-phase power and deliver greater electric efficiency. If those things are true, the rumors of a price point at $8,700 plus shipping might be justified.
An option that is available right now for less than half the price and a slightly smaller batch size of 700g is the ARC Roaster, distributed by Crop to Cup for $3,580 plus shipping. It has complete heating and cooling control, with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a commercial grade roaster. Touted as the ultimate prosumer small batch roaster, this could easily be the next item on Santa’s Wishlist for Orange Cactus Coffee. Thanks to Nick Brown, again, for drawing our attention to the ARC Roaster.
What’s Your Answer? All said, there is a tremebdous selection of roasters available to the micro-roaster. These are options that weren’t available ten years ago. We’ll keep you up to date on what decision we make, but drop us a line and let us know what you’re using to get the best roast.