Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Hottop Coffee Roasters back in stock

30 Jan

Supply chain woes are another by-product of how the world has been changed by Covid.  From mid 2021 forward numerous imported products have experienced lengthy delays and higher costs such as Hottop coffee roasters.  Hottop roasters were not available for most of the fourth quarter of 2021 and became available again about mid December.  We are happy to report we have both models in stock and available for immediate shipment from our warehouse.

The two models KN8828-B-2-K and KN8828-B-2-K+ are visually similar.  That plus sign (+) is part of the latest models that was introduced in 2015 which added USB connectivity to Artisan roasting software running on a computer.  That provides the ability to run the roaster from the Artisan software once properly configured; alternately you can control the roaster directly.  In either case Artisan will record the roast profile and key events during the roast.  Saved profiles can be stored and serve as a background to future roasts if you wish to follow a previously successful roast of a given coffee.  This roaster and software combination takes home roasting to a new level and adds immensely to its enjoyment.

Hottop KN-8828B-2K+
Hottop KN-8828B-2-K+ (The “Plus” Model)

The the KN-8828B-2-K+ is priced at at $1800.  The base model  KN-8828B-2-K can be had for $1300. The base model cannot utilize Artisan software and is not equipped with a USB connection port.  Both models are built on the same timeless chassis. The upgrades that your $500 buys are:

  • The newest USB compatible control panel featuring an advanced LED with wide viewing angle, high contrast, and full roast data displayed in real time.  LEDs change color as temperatures rise.
  • Four bi-directional, infinite-rotation speed-sensitive knobs for easy and fast parameter changes during the roast (fan speed, temperature control, target temperature, and target time).
  • Two K-type thermocouples for separate bean temperature (BT) and environmental temperature (ET) for real-time monitoring. Both temperatures are displayed on the LED screen throughout the roast. Other Hottop models have but one thermocouple.
  • The USB port is bi-directional and supports third party software (Artisan) for real-time monitoring and graphing of roasts as well as for computer control of the roaster.
  • Updated heating elements allow for roasts up to 300 grams (vs 250 grams for other current models).

Artisan software can be used on Windows, Mac and Linux computers and is open source – free – software.  While free it is well supported and updated by a community of users and is surprisingly robust providing near professional capabilities.

Artisan Hottop KN-8828B-2K+ screenshot
Artisan screenshot for Hottop KN-8828B-2K+

It should be noted that while Hottop guarantees and supports the roaster they do not provide same for the software and have several disclaimers to that point.

We have sold this roaster since its inception as well as Hottop models prior to it.  One nice aspect of Hottop is that the body of the machine has not changed in years, however, the company continues to improve the product and offers their customers upgrade kits.  If you have an older Hottop model then such kits are available although they can be expensive.  For new customers going directly to this model it’s nice to know the company is not trying to always sell you something new and the core roaster has significant longevity.

As to Artisan, it’s excellent software that lets you track bean and environmental temperatures, deltas for each which are similar to rate-of-rise, add notes, follow prior profile guides, produces spider graphs, has room for cupping notes, color analysis for those with such measuring equipment and many other features.  Many home roasters have used this developed software for years, mainly recording profiles from handmade notes.  Now, not only is Artisan capable of recording real time information from this Hottop model, but, the software can control the roaster including its fan speed, heating elements, stirrer, motor and ejection door.

For those looking for a totally automated experience this will not be the one for you.  But this will be great fun for the DIY type who likes to exert full control over their coffee roasting and wants to perfect their roast profiles.  The Hottop KN-8828B-2K+and Artisan software combination is as close to professional grade as you’re apt to find in a home roaster at this time.


Behmor 1600 Plus in the works

06 Jun

When the current USA supply of Behmor 1600 roasters are exhausted they will be replaced with the Behmor 1600 Plus, expected late summer.  The only changes to the roaster will be a new Control Board (aka PCB) that will provide additional roasting controls and information, and, a new price.  The PCB will allow home roasters to switch between the original automatic profiles and new manual settings.  Users will be able to read thermistor and exhaust temperatures and also switch between two drum speeds.  New MSRP is $399 and we will offer the Plus at the minimum selling price of $369.  It should be noted that Behmor has not had a price increase since the roaster was first introduced 7 years ago.


Keypad controls in manual mode

Behmor Plus keypad instructions

Do you need to upgrade?
If you have an existing Behmor 1600, you are happy with it and see no need to have manual overrides, than there is no need to upgrade by purchasing the upgrade kit or even a new roaster.  When the time comes to purchase your next Behmor this is what you will get – exactly the same roaster that works as before when you want it to, but, has added features if and when you want them.  You can continue to use the 1600 Plus just as did the 1600 when in its automatic (standard) mode.

Control Panel Upgrade only
Prior to the release of the Behmor Plus you will be able to purchase an upgrade kit consisting of the control panel and instructions for conversion. The selling price of this kit is $49.99.  We expect to have upgrade kits in early to mid July.  By upgrading your existing Behmor 1600 with this kit you will end up with a Behmor Plus – there are no other differences.


All the time: Auto or Manual
1) Press C (for crack as in first) and it resets timer according to weight to our “Rosetta Stone” times which are associated with approximate time it takes to go from the first crack of 1C to start of 2C. It is merely an approximation.
2) Auto Safe/ Unattended Switch – at 75% into set time of a roast the timer will start blinking un:30..29, 28 etc.. The user has 30 seconds to press START otherwise it will automatically go into cool flashing err7.

Manual Mode
After pressing Start to begin a roast, press either P1 – P5 to begin manual mode (It is best to start with P5 – 100%.)
1) Change Motor speed – press D (drum)
2) Reset time to weight (Rosetta Stone) – press C
3) Press P1 – P5 to change power- whatever is pressed “blinks” to denote which setting.
4) Press 1 at any time to return to Auto

In Auto (default) all buttons act the same as in current system except ABC, for temp readings and time reset.
In Manual (only functional after starting a roast)
Button 1: Returns system from Manual mode to Auto (defaults).
Buttons A – C same as in auto
Button D – drum / cylinder motor speed toggle from standard (8 rpm) to high (16rpm)
Buttons P1 – P5 power to elements: P1- 0, P2-25%, P3-50%, P4-75%, P5-100%
All other buttons ¼, ½, +, -, Cooling, Light, Off remain the same in either / original program.


BraZen carafe dribble – Spout Replacement Kit

10 Oct

If you were an early adopter to Brazen brewers you may have a carafe that dribbles when you pour coffee. Joe Behm, head of the company, is offering to send a Spout Replacement Kit to resolve this problem. If you read the instructions and/or watch the video than you will find the replacement pretty easy to do. Future builds of the Brazen and any purchased from us after 10/9/13 will have the newest spout.

Joe wrote:

Earlier this year, we were made aware of an issue concerning a relatively small percentage of carafes that dribbled. When the issue was brought to our attention, we brought it to the attention of the factory, which was surprised. Mr Coffee had used that carafe in over 200,000 units without any reports of this dribbling effect.

I want to personally apologize to every Behmor Brazen customer affected by this.

Despite the low overall percentage of carafes involved, we felt the best solution was to do a complete spout/upper portion redesign. The full vetting/testing is completed, and all involved are more than satisfied with the results. We hope you will be, too.

Starting Monday- September 20th, we will have a kit available for anyone interested (instruction sent via email) in swapping the old upper portion of the carafe with the new one. The swap requires two screwdrivers (small flat head and a Phillips) and about 5 minutes’ time.

Video of the procedure can be found at You Tube by doing a keyword search- Behmor Carafe Upper Portion or directly at:

If you have a carafe that has issues with dribbling, please send an email to: [email protected]

Please provide the following data:

Subject line: Carafe Kit

Body: Name, address, serial number and where purchased.  No P.O. Boxes, please.

I’d also like to thank all those who have assisted and displayed a great deal of patience while Behmor found a solution.

We’ll also be doing a swap on existing inventory, so all new units will ship with the corrected carafe and kits provided to distributors for distribution if needed.

Again, my personal and sincerest apologies for the issue and any inconvenience it has caused.

Best regards,


Joe Behm


A Taste for Expensive Coffee

10 Jul

The Best of Panama 2013 internet auction was held last Wednesday 7/3 and prices were overall very high and, in a number of instances, extremely so.  By way of disclosure, yours truly was one of sixteen international judges who cupped and scored these coffees in Boquete, Panama in May.  The competition and auction that followed is broken into three categories:  Geisha varietal, Traditional and  Natural process coffees.  The Geishas and Traditionals are all washed or ‘honey’ processed.  Indeed, some of the nicest coffees anywhere are being produced in Panama, though this origin does not signify magic to the American consumer.  Close to zero of the auction winners were from the United States, and this is often true of winners at Cup of Excellence auctions as well.

Almost all of this award winning, expensive coffee goes to Asia where a taste for rare and exotic foods is firmly implanted in the culture, albeit those with the wherewithal to afford them.  Witness Wagyu beef at $1,500 a pound, $1,000 a pound Matsutake mushrooms, the 1.76 million dollar bluefin tuna that was purchased in January, a mere $3,600 a pound or Fugu blowfish.  This quest for unique experiences extends throughout Asia and is also being witnessed in Australia.

At Best of Panama there were 47 coffees auctioned.  Four of them attained prices over $100 a pound and 17 more coffees achieved between $20 and $100.

CoffeePrice per poundCategoryRank in category
Esmeralda Special Natural Cañas Verdes$350.25Natural1
Kotowa Don K Geisha Nat$170.25Natural3
Los Lajones Bambu Geisha$165.75Natural2
Esmeralda Special Cañas Verdes$85.25Geisha3
Esmeralda Special Jaramillo$48.15Geisha8
Kotowa Don K Geisha$45.25Geisha14

In all, 14,550 pounds of coffee were auctioned with an average price of $19.88 per pound.  Most of these were very small lots with 100 to 150 pounds.  But the questions remain 1) who buys and can afford the most expensive of these coffees? And 2) why is the US absent from the top earners?  Americans, even the wealthy ones, seemingly do not place a value on the experience, or, perhaps the experience does not live up to the price?

A $350 pound coffee will yield 10 small Chemex pots each 36 ounces.  $350 is the price of the green, unroasted coffee, which when imported and roasted will be more like $425 per pound, so that pot of coffee has a cost of about $43.  How much would it be priced tableside – $100 or about $15 a cup.  Maybe high rollers would would pay that, maybe not, prefering to dole out the bucks for big name, rare champagnes or cognacs.  It will be interesting to see how this trend develops and whether it turns out to be good or bad for specialty coffee.  Share your thoughts.



New Flat Rate for green coffee

12 Mar

By popular request we have added flat shipping rates that will make it more economical to purchase green coffee, particularly in larger increments.  Because of our shipping volumes the vast majority of these shipments will travel via FedEx Ground Service.  You will benefit from very attractive negotiated rates they have provided.  For those instances where the weight and distance combination would provide customers with better service with USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate, then we will utilize that method.  Either way, you pay one flat rate as follows:

WeightFlat Rate
up to 20 pounds$9.99
21 to 40 pounds$14.99
41 to 60 pounds$21.99


These rates apply to the 48 Continental US states only.   Sorry, no Alaska, Hawaii at this time.



BraZen about to ship

24 Sep

It’s really kind of silly to think that, until now, none of our home coffee brewers informed us of the temperature of the water used for brewing. Doesn’t it seem slightly unbelievable that by this juncture, when we are raising coffee brewing to an artisan level, that we don’t even know this basic information? Wouldn’t you think we would want to know the temperature of the water, since it happens to be just about all of a cup of coffee, except for one and a quarter percent? Well, the wait is nearly over as the BraZen Coffee Brewer is being shipped to customers the end of the week. Will your House Blend taste different at 196, 200 or 203 degrees? If the answer is yes” we’ll be kicking ourselves for not having this idea first!

BraZen Coffee Brew System

Features like temperature selection (1 degree increments from 190 to 210F) and pre-soak have been reserved for professional coffee brewers, and just the higher end ones at that. The BraZen puts brewing variations in your hand, giving you the tools to tweak your brewing, and doing so in an easy to use package that looks a little space age, but classy in an interesting way. Other features include temperature glide, temperature calibration with altitude correction, ‘auto’ setting for when you want to wake up to a fresh pot, a stainless steel, water heating reservoir, and, a host of other enhancements.

The BraZen Coffee Brewer is $199 including free shipping, a pound of coffee and more from our main site.  There you will also find a more in-depth discussion of features as well as photos.

As I am writing this I am in the Adirondack mountains at the home of friends, where I have brought a BraZen and a Technivorm brewer along with a pro digital thermometer.  I calibrated the thermometer to 208 degrees for this altitude after a minor adjustment for barometric pressure.  Altitude here is 1980 feet so I calibrated the BraZen to 2000 feet.  When calibration was complete the usable temperature range became 190 to 206 degrees (attainable temperature less 2 degrees).  I brewed a full pot of coffee with a target temp of 200 degrees, same as I had last done at home.  When the water reached its target temperature and started brewing I measured the water temp in the reservoir using the separate digital thermometer and found it to be precisely 200, verifying that the calibration process had perfectly done its job.  Separately, I brewed a pot on the Technivorm model and it was able to attain a brew temp of 197 degrees with an occasional spurt reaching 198.  This is very respectable and makes sense.  The target temperature range of Technivorms is 195 to 205 degrees but attempts to hold 200, so at this altitude that 200 was reduced by about 3 1/2 degrees.  The BraZen is accurate to within 2 degrees but was spot on during this test.  A point worth noting is that I could have cranked the Brazen brew temperature up as far as 206 degrees at this altitude, had I wanted.  In that case the coffee temperature would have been about 10 degrees more than the Technivorm, or for that matter, any fixed temperature brewer.

This somewhat unscientific experiment was conducted with the bewildered gaze of my friends, who wondered while the hell I came for a relaxing visit to their mountain home bearing an armada of coffee brewing and lab equipment.  But, all was well as we enjoyed some fine cups of coffee each day brewed with an accurately calibrated BraZen brewer, which was making coffee in the mountains to the exact recipe as that used at our sea level home.