Variable fan speed. 3 position temperature control Chaff collector Glass chamber making it easy to see the roast progress Relatively quiet - easy enough to hear 1st and 2nd cracks. The overall construction quality seems well thought out and very adequate to the task.
Negative Product Points
Bulky. Product stacks together. While that is convenient, it is also a potential issue. 5.9 minute default roast time is way too short for me, and always results in extra fiddling with the timer function. The chaff collector stays too hot to handle even after the cool down cycle. The product does spew some amounts of small chaff during operation.
I am new to roasting.
What I've found with this product is a lot of potential for control of the roast, which was one item I was looking for when searching for a roaster. Another item was price, and I believe this unit delivers for the cost. The last main item is the roast quality, and I've been easily able to produce very consistent and even roasts with this product.
This is more of a personal roaster, so don't be planning on serving huge amounts of coffee to guests. About 4 oz of green coffee at a time is the limit. Once you've filled the roaster with beans per directions and have the feel of the process, I've found you can eyeball the amount of beans going in by using the silver ring around the glass container.
I use a high fan speed at the outset with a low temp until the beans agitate easily and have lost significant moisture. I then use combinations of lower fan speed and the medium or highest temp to achieve the roast I'm looking for. As the roast progresses, the fan speed is still important to keep the beans agitating nicely, but not so agitated that the roast temperature would go too low. When going into "cool" mode, I run the fan speed back up to the maximum speed if possible, to help remove any additional chaff from the roasted beans and to cool the beans as quickly as possible. I've found with lighter weight smaller beans, I cannot go to the maximum fan speed because some of the beans themselves will be carried into the chaff collector. This is worth putting into your notes as something to take into account for the different beans being roasted.
To note: Agitating the beans nicely means that the beans you can see next to the glass continue in a fairly even downward movement and disappear. If you find sections or areas where this does not occur, with some beans seeming to sit in place or even sit too long compared to others, the beans are not agitating properly.
Concerning the timer, I find the 5.9 minutes to be too short for roasts I am looking for. As this machine is a fully hands on machine to make it work properly, I believe a much higher default here would have been much better because you're going to end up hitting the cool button manually when you've achieved the roast level you want. The timer for me functions mainly as a guide if you do any timed operations or need a timed "heads up" during the process. With this machine I think that the current implementation of the timer is more of an obstacle that you must always work around. I saw someone's suggestion of unplugging the machine just before it enters the cool down, and plugging back in after a short pause. This resets the timer to 5.9 minutes and continues roasting with minimal fuss as opposed to tapping the up-down buttons on the timer.
Cleaning the chaff collector is pretty easy using a soft dry cloth to gently move out the chaff. A soft brush from a hardware store would work nicely as well.
The machine is quiet enough to easily hear the 1st and 2nd cracks going on with beans I've used so far.
The machine is working fine and it is put to use every 2 to 4 days. I am very pleased with the results attainable with this machine. As long as I resist the temptation to overload it, I get very consistent quality roasts.
One Year Followup
The original base failed & I ordered a replacement for $68. I'll be sending in the original to be repaired and will keep that one as a spare when I get it back. The machine is in use 2 to 3 times every week with several kinds of coffee. This is a fiddly machine any way you want to look at it, but I get good results. I suggest putting a loose towel around the base to keep the air vents from sucking in small chaff, but DO NOT have the towel so tight as to restrict air flow.