Behmor vs. Popcorn Popper

Behmor vs. Popcorn Popper

Postby dadawads » Sat Nov 13, 2010 1:01 am

After several months of roasting with a Poppery II, I bought a Behmor. It took me a few tries to get the feel of it, but after that I was getting consistent good results. Even excellent results. Recently I took my old Poppery to a party to show people how great home roasting was, and I over roasted the coffee. And got a good gauge as to how superior a Behmor is to a Poppery II.

If you roast at the P1 setting, which is it's hottest and fastest, you get very bright coffee. In fact, I roasted some Kenya at P3, and it was too bright until it rested for 3-4 days. So if you're worried about a drum roaster losing all the brightness, don't. I've done about 15 roasts now, and I'm a fan. The Behmor is versatile, gives enough control for me, and puts out great coffee time after time. I've roasted several Ethipoians, a Kenyan, Indian Mysore, Sumatra, 2 Guatemalans, Tanzanian, Braziian, Columbian, and others I can't think of at the moment. I think my overall favorite so far is the Indian Mysore. I find it to be exotic and complex.

SW's 8 pound sampler is a great way to start. I found a number of coffees that I loved that I would not have chosen from the description onine. Now I starting to buy 5 lb. bags because I can experiment more and get to know a particular variety in its various roasts.

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Re: Behmor vs. Popcorn Popper

Postby CoffeeWoman » Thu Nov 25, 2010 8:52 pm

Very helpful commentary, Dadawads. I've been wondering about the brightness factor myself, as I contemplate switching from a Poppery II to a Behmor. My motivators are not smoking up the apartment and getting more control over temperature and profiles, so I can explore additional fine points of roasting.

I wasn't having too much problem with smoke until I recently roasted several batches a day in preparation for a trip and some gift-giving, and surpassed the ability of my space to neutralize the smoke on its own. As for taste, I'd gotten used to my Poppery II and its hot, fast roast, and had begun to be able to smell the sweet-spot on some of my roasts. What I didn't have was any way to change the roast temperature, other than putting the roaster on an extension cord and taking it outdoors. I wasn't too keen on those outdoor results - and I don't know if that's because of the cooler roasting or because at that point I hadn't learned to know the smell of a "perfect" roast.

I want to roast for holiday giving, so thought a bigger capacity would be a plus, as would the smoke suppression the Behmor offers, even if it's only partial. But I've been out of town, without enough of my own roast on hand, and bought some fresh-roasted coffee from a local roaster. The beans smelled wonderful, and a taste-test of a crunched bean was pleasing. But the brew itself was less exciting than I'd expected. It occurred to me that maybe I was accustomed to the brightness of the fast air roast and not the ... what, more balanced? ... results of drum roasting. (Or to Tom's coffee-selecting expertise. But I think this roaster was using a good buyer of good larger batches as supplier.)

What's weird is that I had no idea I was getting "bright" results - I thought that term applied to Kenyans, and maybe Peruvians and Guatemalan beans - which I tend not to like too much. So now I'm puzzled, and wondering if making a switch is really a good idea. Any other thoughts from Behmor users, or other roasters who've tried both the Poppery and some other type of roaster?
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Re: Behmor vs. Popcorn Popper

Postby txcowgirl » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:06 pm

I'm interested in this as well. I've been using a Poppery II since I started roasting in June, and so far have been very happy with the results. But it sounds like the Behmor is a huge improvement over the Poppery. I want to make sure before I spend the $$s on the Behmor, you can buy several popcorn poppers for the money.

So, please, please, input, input.

Thanks in advance. :)
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Re: Behmor vs. Popcorn Popper

Postby CoffeeWoman » Sat Dec 18, 2010 1:15 am

A huge investment - and a... well, interesting...learning curve. Bigger capacity is great. (I'm still practicing with small batches till I'm more sure of what I'm doing. But a small Behmor batch is big, compared to the poppers.) Incinerated my first batch and my place smells like I had a house fire. My fault; I didn't realize the pops I was hearing were second, not first crack, and added some more time! (Jim says that's commonly called "third crack." I won't do it again!)

One delight was having two different decafs that had disappointed me when I first roasted them in the Poppery II come out of the Behmor wonderful. (Promptly followed those with an overroasted batch, though.)

The Behmor's a bit more work - it requires a good cleaning after every five batches. But then again, if properly maintained it's reputed to last for years, unlike the poppers. The Behmor tech folk are great; they walked me through checking the machine after the fire. The one problem with my machine is the latch for the drum lid, which keeps falling off. So I keep squeezing its holder tighter with pliers. Now I think I've got it.

The roasts take longer. But you're roasting more - so it evens out. I'm back to learning all over again when to stop a roast for the roast level I want. The smells are different - lots less odor coming out of the Behmor's vent slits. I've been roasting several batches a day to test/compare. Now that I know my results are drinkable, I'm saving enough from a roast to make a test mug for myself, and giving the rest of the batch away. Good giving - and I get to taste lots more greens that way (I've overbought).

So far I've done 4 oz. batches at the 1/4 lb setting. Will try that setting with 3 or 3.5 oz soon to see if that runs it to second crack without having to add extra time (though I don't mind watching and adding, either.) Am just beginning to experiment with profiles other than the P1, which is straight-up fast heating, a lot like roasting with the Poppery II. I've two batches of one Sumatran that should be ready to compare tomorrow - a P1 and a slower warm-up.

If you go for the Behmor, don't throw away your Poppery II. Despite the new smaller mesh they're using for the drum, tiny beans and busted beans fall through the holes. One of my Ethiopians is almost impossible for the Behmor. I've been loading up the drum and spinning by hand to let the little stuff fall out; I'm putting that aside to roast in the popper. If the beans fall out during the roast, they can under-roast lying on the chaff tray, roast black on one side and yellow on the other, or get stuck in the grid and scorch. (I haven't incinerated one yet - and don't want to. One fire was enough.)

For my sample pack, I chose the espresso sampler. It was a great choice. Some blends, and a bunch of new greens I'd been thinking of trying, too. If there's anything I find I don't like, I have some espresso-loving friends I know I can give it to. But I also now have interesting things both for my French press and to try in my pseudo-espresso maker once I break it out again.

Good luck on your decision. Overall, I think I made the right choice. -Connie
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Re: Behmor vs. Popcorn Popper

Postby martin » Sat Dec 18, 2010 8:33 pm

I gather from reading Behmor roasters discuss their practices, that the usual custom is to tell the control panel you're roasting 1# and actually load nearer 3/4# (or 1/2# and etc.). This, as well as adding as much time as it will let you up front, seems perfectly reasonable to me, since the only official control you have once the roast is started is kicking it to cooling before the timer runs out. Oh, and adding some limited number of minutes if you forgot to do that earlier. I think the fact is that nothing we could remotely afford can actually do a set and forget roast (it would at the minimum need actual bean temp sensing in a "smart" feedback loop just to run a specified profile in the face of variations in ambient, line voltage, beans, etc.). Hence lying to the control panel, door cracking, and constant vigilance. :-/

[much later...]

Huh, started this back before lunch, I think, then stuff happened and we went over to watch Hogfather with Cas & Ken, followed by sushi ditto, and now I've just enjoyed the last cup of the Bellota from the latest roast - a 7 days (and very slightly padded with a few grams of SDBV to make up the cup) it had only moderate berries but good sweetness and, uhm, I seem to have drunk it all up without much careful tasting after all. At least I got a couple of surprise packages mailed off, finally. And roasted so I'll have something to drink when the Pac runs out. Okay, maybe there's a reason I'm kinda tired now. :-)
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Re: Behmor vs. Popcorn Popper

Postby CoffeeWoman » Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:07 pm

A professional coffee roaster I met recently has one of the big expensive machines you can theoretically set and forget, and even he prefers to stand there watching, smelling and tweaking the whole time. I suspect once you get your voltage figured out and the preferred roast for each bean nailed, you could probably do enough adds (15 seconds per button push) and subtracts (10 seconds per) to make the Behmor nearly set-and-forget. But having set mine on fire once, I think I prefer to stay right there beside it anyway. -Connie
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Re: Behmor vs. Popcorn Popper

Postby txcowgirl » Mon Dec 27, 2010 7:28 am

Well, thanks for the info....I took the plunge and ordered the Behmor this morning ( a post-Christmas present to myself!!). I am now waiting for it to come in, this will give me time to clear a space for it. We have a seldom used shower stall with a light and an exhaust fan, so I think I will try that first. (Maybe hubby won't complain about the "burning down the house smells" so much.) Will still keep my Poppery for my dark roasts, and will need to roast some this week before the Behmor comes in, to let the beans rest. I am really excited about taking coffee roasting to the next level.
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Re: Behmor vs. Popcorn Popper

Postby carol » Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:47 am

I bought a Behmor after roasting in a popcorn popper. I roasted 7 or 8 behmor batchs and decided I liked the popcorn popper just as well. I bought the Behmor thinking I could roast during the winter, inside. The hard wired smoke detector goes off every time. I ended up roasting about 5 lbs in mid November with the popper and putting it in the freezer. So far the coffee tastes fine.
I roast mostly Kenya coffee, I did notice a slight decline in the brightness from the Behmor batches.
I guess my thoughts are that the batch size increase with the behmor, is nice but I bought the Behmor to roast inside during the winter and the behmor failed to deliver the smoke reduction.
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Re: Behmor vs. Popcorn Popper

Postby ChuckInVancouver » Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:01 am

carol wrote:The hard wired smoke detector goes off every time.

Ours just got installed and we are having the same issue. I don't see any smoke and the closer smoke detector on our monitored alarm (which I though was very sensitive) does not go off. It does not go off for every batch, if there is a trapped bean from a previous batch, or a chaffy coffee or one with small or broken beans that fall out of the drum, off it goes! It seems to detect something other than visible smoke. Electricians have "shower hats" (plastic bag with elasticized rim) that they put over them to protect them from dust while work is being done in the area. I am going to try slipping those on while roasting.

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Re: Behmor vs. Popcorn Popper

Postby TimeBanditRP » Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:31 am

I'd say that the alarm is going off due to carbon monoxide or other 'invisible' gasses being released with the roast. Just turn on a fan or open a nearby window and that should keep the alarm from going off.
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