How Do I Get More Flavor Out of My Roasts?

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.
DavidZ

Postby DavidZ » Mar 23, 2019, 10:31 pm

I'm a newbie to roasting. I'm frustrated with retail roasted coffee in a few ways, including old roast dates. After trying about 50 different kinds of coffee from a wide variety of sources, I have settled on 4 that I like. I call these my final 4. To me, these are the best of the best, mindful that it's a subjective judgement. Nonetheless, I have some frustrations even with my final 4.

To address these frustrations, I bought a Behmor 1600 Plus. My goal is to roast coffee that I'd prefer to sip over my final 4. While my first few roasts are very respectable, I haven't yet achieved my goal.

I'm a medium roast guy. I definitely don't like dark roast. Dark roast smells and tastes burnt to me. I'm not looking for dark roast smell or taste. I'm looking for real coffee flavor and smell.

Here's my roasting technique:

1) I roast 1/4 pound at a time
2) I use the roast profile on the Behmor that's recommended for the particular bean (P1 to P5)
3) At start of 1C, I typically hit P3 to switch to manual mode at 50% power
4) I continue about 3 minutes after the start of 1C at 50% power before hitting Cool
5) At 1:30 into cooling, I remove the drum and restart the cool cycle.
6) I cool the beans by tossing them between 2 colanders

Judging from the color, my roasts are typically City to Full City.

So, I'm trying to figure out how to get more flavor from my roast. Also, I want to be overwhelmed by the amazing aroma when I open the bag.

happycat

Postby happycat » Mar 23, 2019, 11:17 pm

It's not clear what you feel is missing.

It's also not clear what you feel is "real coffee flavour and smell"

You don't refer to flavours, acidity, or sweetness at all

I'm not familiar with the Behmor. I don't know whether your technique may result in baking your roast or crashing it. Is there any temperature readout that you monitor?

I suggest you change your topic name (click on the pencil) to add Behmor to it. Also name your coffee varietals. Also name the flavours you think are missing.
LMWDP #603

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Randy G.

Postby Randy G. » Mar 24, 2019, 1:46 am

Happycat gave some good advice. I will add that the data you gave will likely only be useful to Behmor users. If you could give some idea of time:temperature for the various roast events it might help. I mention all this because even with 18 years of home rospasting experience I can offer nothing based on the information you gave. The one thing I can say is that for a roast profile, the journey is more important than the destination.
Espresso! My Espresso!
http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com

DavidZ

Postby DavidZ » Mar 24, 2019, 11:48 am

Thank you, happycat and Randy G., for your thoughtful responses.

So far, I've done 7 roasts (all with different beans), only 5 of which I have sampled. These roasts all smell great for the first 48 hours, but that wonderful smell fades after that. My favorite is Columbia Supremo Huila, which is not surprising since I favor Colombian coffees. When I say real coffee flavor, it's probably best represented by Colombian coffee.

My next favorite of the 5 of my roasts I've sampled so far is Brazil Fazenda Passeio Natural. Third, fourth and fifth place respectively are Costa Rica Santa Maria Dota Tarrazu, Guatemala Finca Santa Sofia and Guatemala Antigua Santo Domingo SHB. I wont be roasting or sipping either of the last 2 any more.

One of the nice features of the Behmor 1600 Plus is that there are 5 preprogammed roast profiles yet you have the latitude to switch to manual roasting mode at any time. Since I'm new to roasting, this offers me "training wheels" while I learn roasting basics.

The Behmor has some ability to monitor roast temperature, but it's not very robust. During a roast there are 2 buttons that you can press to temporarily display the temperature. One button displays the interior wall temperature while the other button displays the exhaust temperature. Once you release either of these buttons the temperature display goes away.

To really monitor my roast temperature profile well I would need a more robust option. I've seen people posting graphs of their roast temperature profiles. Where can I get this software/hardware? Can it be installed on the Behmor 1600 Plus?

I like the flavors that I'm getting from my roasts. I only want to turn up the volume. I'm not looking for different flavors. What I'm looking for is MORE flavor. And more/sustained aroma.

It seems to me that there are 3 possible areas where improvement can be made:

1) Bean selection
2) Roasting technique
3) Roaster selection.

I didn't put Behmor in the thread title because I don't want to rule out any of the above 3 options. The Behmor is not capable of very hot roasts. If the interior wall temperature exceeds 331 degrees Fahrenheit, the roaster shuts down. That may be a factor that limits me from achieving my goal.

edpiep

Postby edpiep » Mar 25, 2019, 11:49 pm

Hi David,

I have owned a Behmor 1600+ and I can say that overall I was never too impressed with it. It is definitely a "low (heat) and slow (time)" type of roasting machine, the profiles aren't ever geared toward "hot and fast" roasts just different lengths of time with a limited heat spectrum. I always used manual mode anyway and tried to get more heat out of it by using some hacks I found on the net but overall it always seemed underpowered. The heat factor plus other things are really important to produce those flavors in the coffee you are seeking. I upgraded to a propane heated, drum roaster that allows for roast profiling as well. Many of the users on here are using similar machines (gas powered, drum style) and the results I can say are noticeably better.

I cannot say that the Behmor was a total waste though. I learned some good things with it and they are easy to sell but overall if you are wanting to have a large window of flexibility to apply different roasting techniques to a coffee then something with more versatility and heat output will be necessary. Your produced "volume" in the cup with the Behmor can't go higher at this point :( Also, I don't think you can use profiling software with a Behmor w/o some tricky mods being implemented. I never tried to find out much on that topic though, maybe others on here have more insight into it.

Lastly, in reference to you 3 observed areas of improvement, they didn't seem super specific so I will give general feedback.

1) Bean quality sets the ceiling of possibilities in the end "flavors" resulting in a cup/espresso etc. 80-100 pts.= specialty grade coffee, within that spectrum you have lower and higher ceilings of flavor possibilities which are also origin dependent, 80 pts. being the lowest ceiling, 100 pts. being a mythical creature who only dwells in the jungles of Wakanda. Choosing beans is very contextual but learning to roast with lower quality specialty grade beans is a VERY good idea at the outset.
2) This topic is why forums like this exist, there is a wealth of knowledge on here to guide into whatever style of roasting you desire. Technique in roasting like any other area where it's used is open to experimentation and practice after certain basic foundations have been laid (like in sports, music etc.).
3) Perhaps the most subjective area but good roasts can be done on a variety of machines with the necessary specs. A good starting point is knowing your desired capacity to roast with, whether you want a gas or fluid bed style roaster and then those limitations will give you some viable options to start with.

Hope that was helpful, you might know a lot or all of this already lol but it's hard to tell on the web.

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yakster
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Postby yakster » Mar 27, 2019, 3:30 pm

Hi Ben,

I was roasting on an old Behmor (original chaff tray design) upgraded to the Plus board for 10 years until I upgraded to the Aillio Bullet this year. I used RoasterThing to monitor the roasts along with a dual thermocouple USB device made by the author Ira. I taped one of the thermocouple's along the bottom of the Behmor (below the door and the chaff tray) so that the tip was 1/4" - 1/2" below the lower heating element on the left side to measure ET and the second thermocouple I stuck in the exhaust grill in the back to be able to track and trend my roasts. The exhaust thermocouple doesn't show anything until the afterburner kicks on, but once it does it proxies for bean temp. You could use Artisan and it's thermocouple compatible hardware if you chose.

Here's some tips, they may or may not work for your as you may have a different environment and a newer roaster. Consider this a starting point and I'd recommend changing one variable at a time and doing at least three roasts to fine tune your procedure.

1) I found that 300 - 350 grams of green coffee was the sweet spot for me. I'd hook my Behmor into a Variac to be able to dial the voltage up and compensate for any voltage drop in my heavy-duty extension cord for better power. I've heard that it's harder to roast 1/4 # batches than larger batches. I could see the green coffee hit full yellow at about the same point as the ET temp peaked. The Behmor has a slow ramp up so sizing your batch size to take advantage of this can help.

2) I would pre-heat the roaster with out the drum in before starting the roast. Before the Plus board there was a thermal cutoff which would prevent you from starting the roast so I kept the pre-heat less than 2 minutes back then but when I upgraded to the Plus board I found that this cutoff no longer applied so I started pre-heating longer, 3-4 minutes, before stopping the roaster and loading in the drum with Ove Gloves to protect my hands before configuring my settings and starting my roast.

3) I started the Behmor and immediately put it in manual mode at full power and set the drum speed to high. As the temp peaked after full yellow, I'd try to keep the ET at 400 F using either the Variac to fine-tune the temp or the power settings. At first crack, I'd drop the temp down while maintaining a healthy first crack, don't want to stall it. I typically would roast to 30 seconds after the end of first crack and I'd bring the power up a bit as FC was ending.

4) When I hit cool, I'd let the Behmor cool the beans for about a minute, then I'd open the door and put a metal grid inbox tray in front to prevent chaff from flying all over my garage and let it run about a minute more. The Behmor does a good job at cooling the coffee in the first few minutes, but as the time goes in it goes slower and slower, complicated by the roaster itself retaining heat.

5) I put my Ove Gloves on and stop the cool cycle and pull the drum to dump it into a plastic food storage container which a steaming insert I found at a thrift store with holes in the bottom fit into well and cut a hole in the side to connect my commercial shop vac. I restart the cooling cycle to cool down the Behmor. Cooling your beans down quickly helps nail the roast and preserve sweetness.

Before I got the Plus, I would do the door dance to dump some of the heat at first crack. Afterwards, I use the control buttons to control the heat and the roasts got better. I noticed that I was roasting too hot and missing a lot of flavor and that my roasts got better when I started lowering the heat after full yellow. The Behmor can be a challenge to roast with since you have no control over airflow, but it can produce great results, once you have it dialed in.
-Chris

LMWDP # 272

DavidZ

Postby DavidZ » Mar 27, 2019, 9:13 pm

Thanks, Evan and Chris. Great information. That's exactly the information I needed.

What roasters should I consider to achieve my goals? My criteria are:

- Roast small batches (1/4 pound)
- Leaning towards drum since that's the predominant design, but could be persuaded to consider other designs
- Ability to accurately monitor roasts and playback saved roast profiles

I'm willing to spend some money on it, but I want to be confident that I will not be disappointed again and be in the market for yet another roaster.

Chris, lots of great ideas, but I can't see myself doing all that mechanical hacking. Another idea I read online is to tilt the Behmor back by propping up the front legs about 1.5" That moves the beans to more directly over the burner to give them more heat. This strategy would probably be even more impactful for small batches. What do you think of that approach?

edpiep

Postby edpiep » Mar 28, 2019, 3:45 pm

David,

You are welcome, I'm glad you found the info helpful. I always used the "tilt" technique once I discovered it but no drastic changes in flavor came from it. I also lined the sides and door with aluminum foil which was also very minimal in the help category. The things Chris shared are massively helpful if you want to track your roasts and bring in extra precision to the process. I never took that plunge with my Behmor though, I kept things simpler and just chose to upgrade instead of trying to "max out" a machine that to me seemed underpowered. The thing that really hampers the Behmor IMO is the lack of controllable airflow, 80% of coffee roasting is via convective heat so having a way to control and alter that heat is really important.

To your question about roaster suggestions. That IS a rabbit hole and I suggest you start on the forums here on HB to investigate your options as there are many quality ones out there with pros and cons to what you are wanting overall. I can't speak about any other than the Huky from personal experience and I will say I do like mine a lot. It's got some "modding" that is absolutely necessary in my view but nothing really daunting. You can roast 100g with it and get good results but it is not a sampler that is geared toward industry spec roasts like the popular Probatino or Ikawa. The Huky can handle 200-450g of coffee really well though. The Allio Bullet that Chris uses I have heard great things about and there is also the Cormorant, Quest and others with a similar capacity to the Huky but I can't speak to them comparatively. There are many more great drum roasters with larger capacities and varying price points (SF-1, North 500-2kg, Buckeye BC models etc. etc.etc.). Plus all of the ones I listed can be used to profile roasts with accompanying software/hardware additions.

It's a great quest, finding a roaster you like, the great news is that there are really some great machines being made now that are more than capable of "amping up the volume" you can get in the roast AND the cup.

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yakster
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Postby yakster » Mar 28, 2019, 6:15 pm

David,

I never tried tilting, but I did line the chaff tray in aluminum foil for a while to reflect more heat but I think it was negligible. The Aillio Bullet would be overkill for 1/4 # batches, it's a 1 Kg roaster, but I have heard some have tried with 100 g samples.

As for my routine, you can mix and match and try just a few ideas to see if it improves your roast. I really didn't feel that once I'd boosted the voltage to 120 with my Variac that the Behmor was that under powered and you don't necessarily need to install thermocouples (I did long before the plus board was available) but in roasting devising experiments to optimize things like charge temp, batch size, profile, is key to learning how to best use your roaster. I don't think that anyone on this forum has been able to directly take my advice and apply it to their roaster without adapting it to their environment.

Good luck, with 1/4 # batch sizes there are lots of options for roasters.
-Chris

LMWDP # 272

edpiep

Postby edpiep » Mar 28, 2019, 6:39 pm

yakster wrote: I really didn't feel that once I'd boosted the voltage to 120 with my Variac that the Behmor was that under powered and you don't necessarily need to install thermocouples (I did long before the plus board was available) but in roasting devising experiments to optimize things like charge temp, batch size, profile, is key to learning how to best use your roaster.


That was something I never thought to do Chris, but that is a good idea. Seems I might have been too nearsighted on the heat potential of the Behmor!