The Behmor 1600 Plus is a drum roaster for coffee beans, and it is one of the few coffee roasters that can be easily adapted for cocoa beans. This is mainly due to its relatively large capacity when compared to other models in its size and price ranges.
The 1600 Plus model by Behmor can accommodate one pound of coffee beans. But since cocoa beans roast at lower temperatures than coffee beans, you can fill the roaster with two-and-a-half to three pounds of cocoa beans and still obtain the desired result.
Why is Roasting Cocoa Beans an Essential Step in Chocolate-Making?
Before we review the Behmor 1600 coffee and cocoa roaster, here is a little background on the purpose of roasting.
After the cocoa beans are fermented, they are put through the roasting process to prepare them for the subsequent steps of cracking and winnowing.
Roasting loosens the husks or outer shells, which are then separated from the kernels during winnowing.
When the beans are roasted, the heat cleanses them of the bacteria, fungi and mold that they would have acquired during fermentation and makes them safe for consumption.
The moisture content in the beans is removed, making them dry and ready to be ground into chocolate liquor.
Perhaps the most important aspect of roasting cocoa is that it brings out the chocolate flavour of the beans as we know it.
The flavour and colour of the final product depend on the roast profile, which consists of the temperature and duration of the roasting process.
What is a Drum Roaster?
A drum roaster is one of the preferred appliances for roasting relatively small amounts of cocoa beans. It was invented for roasting coffee beans and is widely used for that purpose. It is also, however, a commercial roaster of choice for artisanal and bean to bar chocolate-makers who produce chocolate on a relatively small scale.
The design of an electrical drum roaster is simple. Its main components are a stainless steel drum or basket and a heating element, both of which are encased in a metal oven-like unit.
The drum constantly rotates and the beans inside are roasted with the help of two sources of heat. The heating element provides convection heat and the heated drum provides conduction heat.
The beans are kept in constant rolling motion inside the drum, and that ensures uniform roasting.
The temperature and duration of roasting determine the flavour development of the final chocolate product and also its colour.
The temperature and roasting time can be set manually or by using preset roast profiles that are provided by the more sophisticated range of drum roasters.
Trial, error and experience will help artisanal chocolate-makers decide which roast profile is suitable for each of the cocoa products in their range.
What are the Main Features of the Behmor 1600 Plus?
It is highly customizable and provides the user with five preset roasting profiles, which are combinations of temperature and duration.
Roasting can also be done using manual mode, which might be preferable to fellow chocolate-makers who like a more fine-tuned roasting process.
It is equipped with a removable drum and chaff tray.
It comes with a detailed user manual with clear instructions on how to navigate the many features that can be accessed via the control panel.
It has a smoke suppression system for added safety and ease of operation.
What are the Pros?
There are several benefits to roasting cocoa beans with the Behmor 1600 Plus.
It has a larger capacity than other models in its size and price ranges. It can accommodate up to three pounds of cocoa beans when three-fourths full and yield the optimum roast.
Its compact size makes it suitable for kitchen counters and home use. Its dimensions are 12.5 inches by 17.5 inches by 10.5 inches, and it weighs twenty five pounds.
The auto-safe feature prompts the user to press start after seventy five percent of the roast is complete. If no action is taken in response to the prompt, the cooling process begins prematurely. This reduces the probability of burning and fires. Roast times differ on the basis of bean size, fat and moisture content. So this feature ensures a near-constant monitoring of the process, which lessens the chances of over-roasting.
Its five roasting profiles or presets provide great flexibility and control over the roasting process. For example, P1 is a preset profile which supplies a steady heat at a fixed high temperature. P2 begins with high heat for a while to kill toxic substances and gradually cools to a lower temperature for the remaining roast time.
There is a manual mode as well, and it is possible to switch to it from the automatic mode. This guarantees even greater flexibility. The roast time can be changed in fifteen-second increments or ten-second decrements in manual mode.
If the aroma and colour are deemed satisfactory before the roast cycle ends, it is possible to stop the roast and begin the cooling cycle. This provides more control over the process and the ability to fine-tune it.
A maximum roast-time limit of twenty three minutes for manual as well as all automatic presets is an added safety feature that reduces the possibility of burning.
The drum or basket is of good quality construction. It is made up of a tight mesh which keeps the beans safely contained during the rolling motion, except for the smallest pieces.
The smoke suppression system keeps the room smoke-free and safe during roasting.
It operates quietly and emits minimal noise.
The removable drum enables easy loading and emptying of beans.
The chaff tray is removable and so is the drum. Some chocolate-makers recommend leaving out the chaff tray as cocoa beans do not shed as much chaff as coffee beans. That is easy to do since it is easily detachable from the drum.
Cleanup is easy since the drum and chaff tray can be detached from the unit and only need to be sprayed by a de-greasing solution.
It is available in a standard 120 volt version. But 240 volt and 220 volt versions are also available for countries (Thailand) that use those voltages.
What are the Cons?
There are a few drawbacks to toasting cocoa beans with the Behmor 1600 Plus.
Although the roaster has an automatic mode of operation, the process is not fully automated from beginning to end. A safety prompt needs to be answered after seventy five percent of the roasting is complete, or the cooling cycle begins prematurely. This requires constant supervision. Also, the prompt does not stay on long enough for the user to notice if they are momentarily distracted. Several users have suggested that the prompt could stay on for a longer time and could be accompanied by an audio alert as well.
The operation of the roaster is not very intuitive or user-friendly. Heavy reliance on the user manual is needed initially.
In automatic mode, the P1 preset is the hottest and P5 is the coolest. But in manual mode, it is the other way around.
The buttons labeled A,B,C and D perform too many different functions, making it confusing and difficult to remember without frequently referring to the manual. For example, all four buttons add time in automatic mode until the roast has started. After that, A and B are for temperature control, C resets the timer, and D changes the drum speed.
The smoke suppression system does not always work well. Some users have noted too much smoke in spite of it. It is advisable to operate it in a well-ventilated area but not exposed to sunlight. The control panel face can get washed out due to prolonged use in bright sunlight.
Although it is compact enough to comfortably fit on a kitchen counter, it requires a lot of space. The safety instructions state that it needs a clearance of eighteen inches from all walls and overhead cabinets.
The electrical cord is four feet long and the safety instructions discourage the use of an extension cord. This can limit its placement options in some cases.
Small beans or broken pieces can get lodged in the drum mesh and burn during the following cycle, spoiling the next roast. Cleaning between cycles is needed to prevent this.
A recommended thorough cleanup once in four months requires some dismantling and reassembly involving a handful of screws. The roaster could be designed to make this process less laborious.
Let’s Wrap This up
In conclusion, the 1600 Plus roaster by Behmor is ideal for roasting cocoa beans for artisanal chocolate-making. Despite a few cons, the roaster lives up to its reputation of being one of the most preferred pieces of equipment for this purpose.
We, at Anarchy Farm, invite you to join us on our exciting bean-to-bar journey. Join the Anarchy Chocolate Club here.
Roasting Cocoa Beans with the Behmor 1600 Plus [Review]