Great roaster for the money, not without faults, but it does roast a good cup
Positive Product Points
Well made nice looking roaster, not difficult to install. Easy to use digital touchpad, nice automatic cooldown cycle. Roasts beans very evenly. Gives easy access to roast chamber, and beans are very visible.
Negative Product Points
The roast is not user programable, has 9 preset finish temps, most often the desired temp. falls between these settings. Some chaff remains in the finished roast, not a big problem, but it does require some method of removal. Hard to open for routine cleaning.
I have owned this roaster for 1.5 years now, and have grown to like it, and am actually thinking about buying a second. It is well designed for the most part, all the parts are well made and of high quality. The first unit I received did not work, I called and the next morning (a Saturday) I had a new roaster sitting on the doorstep! Both units looked to be assembled haphazardly. The gaskets sealing the top and bottom of both units were not installed correctly and I took my unit apart to fix these. The second unit I was sent had the handle broken on the roasting chamber, so I sent it back with the first unit.
Since it is an air roaster, cleaning is a must. This was not advocated by Coffee Kinetics in the beginning, but they later came out with some cleaning guidelines. About 6 months into roasting I went thru several weeks of great frustration, when all my roasts were very uneven, and the roaster would not perform the same way twice. I finally opened it up and found it to be very dirty! The squirrel cage fan was caked. I cleaned it all and then as I put it back together sealed all the air leaks in the case with high temp silicone, to get maximum airflow into the chamber. I also started giving the roast chamber, chaff collector and screen a good weekly soaking in espresso machine cleaner- this is almost mandatory.
One thing I did do was cut out the back of the machine and install a furnace filter. A future project is to cut a panel in the side of the machine for easy cleaning access.
The roaster measures air temp in the exhaust, and will give a digital reading on the control panel- Celsius. It has preset roasting profiles, which you can select on the control panel. These are #1-#9, and it basically lets you select the temperature at which the roaster stops the roast. I don't use them. I like my Columbian roasted to 450F bean temp. Setting #3 stops the roast too light and setting #4 stops it at 465F. The thermocouple also measures exhaust air temp, which is not accurate enough to duplicate roasts. After a year of mixed results and much aggravation I installed a 10" probe with a digital thermometer. I now set the roast level to a higher setting and manually shut off the gas when the beans reach the desired temp. Of course this means you have to be there at the end of the roast, but it's the only way I've found to get the results I want. I just carry a timer if I have to leave for a few minutes. I have been very happy since I started roasting with bean temp. And I can now easily duplicate a roast.
I have worked out most of the headaches to my satisfaction; the one item I wish I could correct is to have a programmable roast profile. I talked with them several times about this; their opinion is 'our design is the best why would you want to change it'? I don't like the preset roast profile, it goes into a 6 second cooling stage at certain set points to stretch out the roast time and maintain the time/temp profile. My biggest problem with that is it goes into a cooling stage just as the beans hit first crack- I get about 20 seconds of 1st crack and then the burner shuts off. The bean temp can drop as much as 20F, and first crack stops. It can take 30secnds or longer to move back into 1st. The same frustrating thing happens during 2nd crack. I do get good results with most of my roasts, but I'm not convinced I'm bringing out the best the beans have to offer.
I would advise purchasing a second roast chamber, chaff collector assembly. The roast chamber is glass and it is a good idea to have a backup. It also speeds up the roasting time to have a second unit ready to put in immediately after you withdraw the finished roast.
Within the last 3 months I purchased a 100lb propane tank. What a difference! When the tanks get low it really throws off the roast times and temps for some reason. One roast set on #5 might turn off at 440F and the next one with the same beans and setting will go to 475F or something crazy. With the 5 lb tanks this happened more frequently and it caused great irritation until I figured out why.
In conclusion, I have been through some great frustrations with this roaster, but I have been able to work most of them out to my satisfaction. I am happy with this roaster and have not seen anything else in this price range that will perform this well.
Very good people to work with. I believe the company has been sold, so it is now called Sonofresco. Liza is very friendly and helpful. Robert, not sure of his position, has answered all my questons and sent much helpful information.