Ask the Alchemist #182

Level: Novice

Reading time: 8 minutes

Novice: I got a Behmor (exciting new toy!!!) just did a roast of 500g beans on 400/P2 and they have come out black? Is that normal for drum roasting as I have never had this in the oven and worried that I have burnt them??

There was also a lot of popping so I stopped it at 17 mins instead of 18 and put into cooling phase.  I also heard some popping begin at about 8 minutes...was this profile too high for these beans?

I just did a second roast of 500g on P3 and also dark... which suggests this is all normal ??  The first batch seems to have relaxed and gained some colour back and not so black...

Second batch P3 is very black and taste burnt....

Any advice would be great!!!


Alchemist: First question. Why did you roast only 500 grams?  It should be loaded with double that for cocoa if you use the preset profiles.  Did you read my page on roasting with the Behmor?  At 500 grams, yes, you probably did burn the beans.

Novice: Ummm... because I was worried to roast more!!! And didn't realize there was a minimum to put in.. Doh, now that was a waste of beans... Strange the first batch was less burnt than the first... but this may come down to time?

So nothing less than about 1kg? And max 1.3kg (3lb)?

Alchemist: I get that.  For coffee, roasting a smaller amount is the way to go.  But the Behmor 1600 is not a purpose built cocoa roaster.  It is a purpose built coffee roaster.  And coffee roasts much hotter than cocoa.  About 150 F hotter.  When you roast a smaller amount of coffee, you still have to pay attention and stop the roast when the coffee is done.  The same would be true of cocoa and exactly what you didn’t do.  You didn't stop it when it was done.

You roasted 500 grams of cocoa just like you would 500 grams of coffee, it got 150 F hotter, and correspondingly over roasted your cocoa.  They would probably make great Brewing Cocoa, but don’t bother trying to make chocolate.  It will be nasty.

Your first clue that something was different were the pops you heard at 8 minutes.  Those were the sign your roast was entering the acceptable range of being done.  For 2-2.5 lbs I’d recommend another 2-3 minutes.  For 1 lbs/500 grams, 1-1.5 minutes.

The advice and thing to wrap your head around is that roasting is just another form of cooking and all the rules apply.  You would not bake a mini loaf of bread for the same time it takes to bake a full loaf.  Nor grill a 1” steak for the same time as a 2” steak.  Or if you did go for the same time, you would turn the temperatures down accordingly.

The same is true here.  All my roasting recommendations are for 2-2.5 lbs of cocoa (oh, by the way, 3 lbs is too much – I never said that).  So you can either follow them as is (any profile for 18-22 minutes generally speaking) or either roast for a shorter time or at a lower temperature.

Basically ALL coffee profiles are too hot for cocoa if you are roasting the amount you would roast as coffee.  It is why I always suggest double the amount of cocoa as compared to coffee.

I’ve already addressed the shorter time.  If you roast half the amount, then roast about half the time.

But you can also turn the heat down.  The Behmor 1600 now being sold is really the Behmor 1600 Plus – and that Plus is profile/temperature control.  And it’s in the manual.  Which you read, right?  RTFM and all.  Good, nice to know you read it and were just unsure how to apply it to cocoa.

So if you want to test roast only 1 lb, you pick your profile, and start your roast.  Then you turn the heat down.  Once you are roasting, the buttons P1-P5 are now (P)ower buttons, each corresponding to 20% power.  P1 is 20%, P2:40% etc to P5 which is full power.  I prefer a LITTLE hot to a little cool, so I would pick P3 at 60% for 1 lb.

What that will do is allow you to hold to the approximate times I give but with a smaller cocoa bean load.  You will still pay attention to pops and give the roast another 1-4 minutes after you hear a couple.  You will still pay attention to the smell and be on the lookout for baking brownies.

Basically, YOU will still roast.  You will make decisions.  The roaster didn’t know you put in cocoa nor how much you put in.  It’s only a tool.  You have to control it.


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