Too sensitive to user voltage. Or, questionable engineering in setting roasting temperature. Doesn't purge husks perfectly.
If I had known that I would not be able to roast my beans longer than three minutes with this roaster, would I have bought it? I don't know, but I spent a bit of time looking over all the various things that people have said about this machine since I got it and I find a few curious things about it. First, this Plus edition added another 2 minutes on to roasting time. There were two previous editions that had only 6 minutes, one that had a low and high setting and another without. In my case, I don't see what the additional two minutes is for. If I left any green bean at 5 minutes, it would mostly be burned beyond use and I am an espresso drinker who likes a very dark roast. The manual says that the machine is sensitive to user voltage. I checked my voltage -- and so should you if you are considering this machine. Using a cheap and simple volt meter, I see about 120 AC and the machine considers 115 AC to be standard. Well, 120 AC is only about a 4% increase over 115 AC. Is this really a justification of the loss of nearly 60% of the roasting time?
Amazingly, this machine has enough of a following that many people have applied a Variac voltage controller to either increase or decrease the input voltage to control the roast. The timer is mechanical, so you can do this without effecting the working of the timer. But, this is another 100$ And does it work? And this is for only 8 minutes maximum. One might better spend their money on a radiant roaster. Despite this, I do not consider returning it unless somebody could explain there was something seriously wrong with it, and I suspect there isn't.
I roast for myself so the low volume is of no consequence.
Bald Mountain Coffee made this a happy purchase. Fast and reliable shipping.
Three Month Followup
All my coffee continues to go through this roaster. I tried ordering an espresso blend packaged as both roasted and green. When I roasted the green coffee and compared it with the same stuff that came roasted, it was about the same. I am still irritated by the 3 minute roasting limitation, but it does not get in the way of a decent cup of espresso. The most serious problem is the sensitivity to time outside of 3 minutes when setting the knob. A fraction of a turn one way or the other makes a big difference. But, fresh roasted is really the only way to go and this unit is still the cheapest ticket to it.
One Year Followup
I still roast coffee with this unit every week like clockwork. It seems to me that the heater quit turning off when the timer went to the cooling cycle once or twice, but the problem seems to have abated. 3 minutes is still too short to roast coffee and the 8 minute timer is still a mystery. FreshRoast really needs to fix this problem and quit blaming the user's electrical outlet. If I could use all 8 minutes to roast coffee, I wouldn't want another one. As it is, my head is turning to the iRoast.