Zen and the Art of Micro-Roaster Maintenance

I love my Behmor 1600 roaster. It has completely changed my life for the better, and has given me the best way to share my passion for coffee. Now whether I’m playing coffee tour guide to my subscribers, or roasting fair trade beans to order, I have a way to communicate through the beans I roast.

Now that we have the emotion squared away, let’s delve into the little things that keep these little roasters running strong.

Roasting coffee is a smoky, chaffy business. Unless you’re roasting water process decaf beans, there will always be some degree of chaff coming off the beans after the first crack. The Behmor has a brilliant smoke suppression system that actually works. I roast past midnight in a basement with one open door, and that’s all the ventilation I need — usually. When you roast dark, though, you can see the smoke rising from the back of the machine. That’s supposed to happen. That’s why ventilation is such a good idea. Keep a ventilation outlet, or several, open. You might also want to invest in an exhaust fan, or if you’re so inclined, an efficient range hood.

Never, ever leave a roaster in operation. You can see what can happen here. Consider yourself warned.

After each roast, use a vacuum cleaner to clean out all the chaff and bean debris from the roaster. I would advise a small shop-vac, dedicated to roaster cleanup. You’re handling food, and should take appropriate precautions so people don’t get sick after consuming your product. Keep your work area clean.

Also, wiping down the roaster with an organic food-grade cleaner (Behmor recommends Simple Green) after 4-5 roasts (more often for darker roasts) is highly recommended, followed by a dry burn, when you run the roaster at P1 profile for a half-pound setting without beans loaded. This burns away any trapped chaff or cleaner residue, leaving the roaster fresh and ready for another bean load. As you roast darker, you’ll need to dry burn more often to get rid of the oils secreted by the beans.

Occasionally, and I do mean very occasionally, you may have to clean out the cooling and vent fans. The Support area of the Behmor website has excellent documents about this.

Of course, RTFM. The slim booklet has tons of information on how to get the best out of the Behmor. Read this from cover to cover before you turn on the roaster for the first time. It might just save your life.

On the fence about getting a Behmor yourself? Watch this introductory video at Sweet Maria’s to see how it works.

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