In Boston at the 2019 SCA expo, I had the chance to meet Matthew Ryan of De La Finca Coffee Importers. De La Finca is a Raleigh, North Carolina based importer that specialized in coffee from Honduras and Rwanda.
Along with two samples of some amazing natural Honduras coffees, Matthew Ryan sent along some tips on how he and the crew at De La Finca roast with a Behmor 1600.
I put together my best home roasting setup to date and got to roasting.
Matthew Ryan’s Advice for Roasting on a Behmor 1600
“As far as getting a nice specialty profile on the Behmor, I wanted to make sure to mention to clarify some methods that many of us use:
Take the drum out, and start roaster on manual full power (P5) (always 1lb).
Pre-heat to 250-280 range on the “B” (wall) Temp. You may need to turn it off and back on a couple times to reach this temp without going too far into the roast and setting off the fan motor which will then require a Cooling cycle.
Weigh out coffee (250-300g) and fill drum. I usually give it a good shake to get any excess chaff off the green beans, and then with some oven mitts I fit it in place inside the roaster and put chaff tray back. Start roaster back up.
First full minute, especially with naturals, I like to leave the power off (P1) and turn it up to full power (P5) right when it hits 17:00 (1lb counts down from 18:00).
“Turning point” should be around 230-250. As the coffee reaches (B temp) 290+, I would use (P4) on and off, depending on how fast the coffee was rising. – First crack will usually happen between (B temp) 310-325, and if the Timer hasn’t reached 10:30 yet (where the exhaust fan automatically starts) I would think about turning it on (by hitting the C button) right as you start to hear the first cracks. To avoid a sharp rise in actual bean temperature (that is not very trackable with the probes) I would want the ROR to be pretty slow at this point.
For testing out new coffees, I usually only go about a minute or two past the beginning of first crack on the Behmor.
You can turn the light on and get some idea of development by the color towards the end of the roast.
The Exhaust Temp (“A”) will be useful after its been running for a minute. Normal temperatures at the end of roasting for (“A”) would be 220-230 or so if I’m not mistaken.
I used my Behmor about a month ago for some comparative cupping against our Ikawa with a couple pre-shipment samples and people in general enjoyed the Behmor roast.
It’s a whole lot of numbers that don’t match up to most other roasting methods, but if you get it right you’ll really enjoy having that thing!
Oh! Also have those oven mitts ready to whip it out of there! I usually go to no power (P1) when I decide to finish the coffee, open the door, hit the “COOL” button after a few seconds and let it get rid of a little heat that way for about 30 seconds, then turn the machine off and dump it into a large cooking pot, and shake and blow until it’s cool enough to hold in your hands.
-Matthew Ryan, De la Finca Coffee Importers
My Takeaways after following Matt’s Advice
It usually takes around 3- 3 1/2 minutes to get the roaster preheated up to 280 degrees. I was always afraid of pushing the Behmor over the limit and triggering one of its safety features by preheating this much. Turns out, there was nothing to worry about.
Rather than preheating for a minute or two, I will always go to the 250-280 range now.
Profiling is Futile
This isn’t so much something I learned from Matthew, but it’s something I remembered when roasting on a Behmor.
Since the timer counts down from 18 minutes, you need to have a timer running if you want to keep track of how long your roast is. Once you turn on the exhaust fan (C Button) the timer goes to 3:10. It’s really confusing and doesn’t make much sense from any perspective other than a manufacturer who doesn’t want to get sued for lighting houses on fire.
The wall temp (or B temp) is pretty helpful until you hit 7 1/2 minutes into your roast, when the fan cuts on and the temperature precipitously drops.
All of those nice looking roast charts only make sense if you’re measuring the bean temperature. The Behmor only measures the wall temperature and the exhaust temperature. These numbers are very helpful, but they don’t translate to any other roaster.
The Downside of Tinfoil
I’m disappointed saying this: I french roasted one of the floral, fruity coffees Matt sent me.
It was the last sample I roasted and it was the one I was most excited about. Because I kept the tinfoil on the door, I was roasting blind. (Want to know why I roast with tinfoil on the door? Read this.)
Somehow, I missed first crack completely. I must have hit it at the 7-8 minute mark (which is great timing– kudos to Matt’s advice, this is right in the realm of specialty roasting standards.) However, the particular beans I was roasting must have had a very subtle and silent first crack.
Upon hearing second crack (which I mistook for first crack), I let the beans develop for a nice minute and a half. Only when I opened the door and found a french roast spinning around did I realize that I was pushing farther into second crack.
To be fair, the coffee was still delicious at french roast. Credit to De La Finca Coffee Importers for their high quality beans!
This highlighted the dangers of roasting with tinfoil: you lose your sense of sight. Even though you don’t get much to look at when roasting with a Behmor 1600, I still feel that having a viewing window would have steered me away from this mistake.
More about De La Finca Coffee Importers
A big thank-you to Matthew Ryan and the team at De La Finca Coffee Importers. They have a great selection of microlots and high grade specialty coffee, mainly from Honduras and Rwanda.
I had the chance to roast their La Joya Parainema and Las Flores Bourbon. The La Joya was outstanding and one of the cleanest naturals I’ve had. The Las Flores was more difficult to tell because I over-roasted it, but it is supposedly even more floral and fruity. Sounds great.
De La Finca sells great green coffee at really affordable prices. If you’re in the Raleigh area, you can skip the shipping costs and pick up directly from them.
Any Tricks Work for You?
Do you have any tips or tricks you use when roasting with a Behmor 1600? Anything you would change? Let me know in the comments section!
Thanks for reading!