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Air vs Drum.  Major taste difference?
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Discussions > Coffee > Home Roast > Air vs Drum....  
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Senior Member

Joined: 30 Nov 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Virginia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Jan 31, 2010, 4:49pm
Subject: Air vs Drum.  Major taste difference?

I've been roasting for over 2 years with a FreshRoast 8+, and absolutely love it.  But I would love to have something that can handle a larger size, and let me get more consistent roasts.

I was leaning towards getting a Behmor, but as we both have loved the bright air roast taste we have been getting (95% use is Silvia, 5% french press), I am a little leery that the upgrade might result in a taste downgrade.  Is there a significant difference between the same bean air roasted versus drum?

If there is a significant difference, would a stove top roast be similar to the Behmor?  I have a bunch of beans on the way and that would give me a chance to see what the difference is and how they compare, if it would be close.  If I find air roasting is my preferred taste, what set up (I am not mechanically inclined, so mods are not much help for me!) would you recommend?

It's been an interesting journey, I started with a cheapo Krups machine, a blade grinder, and grocery store coffee.  Upgraded (?) to an all in one, replaced it with the Silvia/Rocky combo, then got the FreshRoast.  Amazing how much better my coffee is, and how my tastes have changed.  Went from a darker and stronger the better coffee drinker to a lighter roast, fruit bomb fan.
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Senior Member
Joined: 9 Oct 2007
Posts: 1,826
Location: Pacific NW
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astra Mega II
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, Virtuoso
Vac Pot: Yama 5 cup
Drip: nope, french press
Roaster: Behmor, WP, BBQ drum
Posted Sun Jan 31, 2010, 7:21pm
Subject: Re: Air vs Drum.  Major taste difference?

The "general" difference between air (fluid bed) vs. a more radiant heat such as in a drum will be noticed.  An air roaster will give you a cleaner cup but less body.  A typical modern day drum roaster will give you more body but not as clean of a cup.  Of course there's going to be some cross overs from both, but that's the general difference you will likely experience.  Some of the older drum roaster still had a high air flow that yielded a cleaner cup.  I guess it's what you're wanting to accomplish.  Espresso?  give me a low air flow drum please.

Regarding the Behmor I find it to offer very gentle profiles that probably won't give you that super bright cup.  It has its benefits though; very predictable and you can repeat roasts easily.  If I was solely a non espresso drinker I might look elsewhere, but there are some tricks to get the right profile from your behmor.

Regarding larger size, I don't and wouldn't recommend a full batch in the behmor.  I personally won't go larger than 10oz, but 7-8 works best IMO.  If you want to get a very bright cup, you definately don't want full sized batches in the behmor.  As much as I'd recommend the behmor it may not be the best option for you.
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Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 2,807
Location: Cheyenne
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Pulsar
Grinder: Mazzer SuperJolly • Baratza
Drip: Bunn • AeroPress
Roaster: Behmor•Variacs
Posted Mon Feb 1, 2010, 1:32pm
Subject: Re: Air vs Drum.  Major taste difference?

Hi WishBone…
I find I tend to like my coffees a bit darker when done in the Behmor than when I was air roasting (poppers, FreshRoast, and iRoast2 experience here). I was hitting cool at the first sign of 2nd crack with my iRoast2 whereas I let the Behmor run on a bit and it's not over-clocking our taste buds at all. With the air roasters, they were producing Vienna whereas the drum is only producing FC+ or ++

The deeper flavor of the drum favors the espresso applications, but I am finding that if I use the Behmor on P1 profile and tell it that I'm doing a full pound but only roasting 13.3oz that it gets me to 1st crack in a reasonable amount of time and yet doesn't scorch the beans.

Others are doing P1 with 7 oz and telling the roaster it's 1/2 pound - which is giving them similarly good results.

We use a lot of coffee weekly, so the 7oz route takes too long and requires too many weekly sessions for me…I'm already doing 4-5 sessions of 13.3oz so that would require me to do 9-11 batches a week @ 7oz...

There are compromises with every roaster, but I'm finding that in the past month and a half we have adjusted our taste buds to the deeper roast characteristics of the drum, and I'm discovering how to accelerate single origin roasts without burning them.

It's not our first drum-like exposure (several years with a GG/SC and an Alpenrost in there for a few months too).

And this week I nailed some Kenya AA from Sweet Marias - just the best we've had in a long time. Gotta do that again...

Hope this helps...


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