I have not had my FreshRoast for very long, so this is a newbie review. I decided to write a review at this stage in my experience so that readers will get the perspective of someone who is new to home roasting, roasters in general, and this roaster in particular. So, please keep that in mind as you read further.
When I opened the box and took out the roaster, my wife looked at it a bit funny and said, "That doesn't look like it's very good quality." We shall see. It does look a bit simple, but as long as it holds up, I am happy with the simplicity of it. It is a bit like driving a manual transmission instead of an automatic. You are more in control of what it does, not a whole bunch of computer chips. I like having the control myself, because I trust me more than I trust it.
The first time I roasted, our smoke alarms went crazy. I was discouraged to say the least. But...I am a computer engineer, so I like to make things work (not just computers). I went down to the local Home Depot and bought a 6"-to-4" round metal ventilation piece thingy and a 4" round aluminum clothes dryer exhaust tubing. The tubing is bendable to any shape yet stiff enough to hold it's shape. I put the tubing onto the 4" end of the ventilation piece thingy and cut a notch out of the 6" end which rests perfectly over the top of the roaster, with the notch resting over the handle of the chaff collector. I was quite proud of myself because it only cost a few bucks for the parts and I can easily direct the ventilation out our window. Since then, no fire alarms have complained.
Ok, now to the roasting...I have to be honest, I'm really new at this and still don't find the taste as good as the professionals do it. I think I know what the problem is though. The FreshRoast roasts several minutes faster than other roasters, and I think it results in a sort of "Greenish, flowery, bright flavor." The best way I can describe it is the difference between a perfectly pale yellow, young banana and a deep yellow, ripe one. The pale yellow banana does not have all the developed and deepened flavors of a banana with a few dark spots forming on the peel. Instead, it just tastes a bit rawer and "greener," if that makes sense. That is what the coffee is like to me, "greener" somehow, even if I do a dark roast. I can taste the dark in front, but that green is underneath instead of a ripened depth.
I attributed this to the fast roast time, but maybe it is just my own fault in not roasting well. I have since then tried a suggestion noted on a review and have yet another suggestion to try. What I did was turn the nob to "cool" right after the end of first crack. I left it there for 30 seconds and then went back to roasting until second crack. I have not tried this coffee yet, but the roast looks gorgeous and smells great. Another suggestion is to turn it to cool for 5-10 seconds every minute of roasting.
As you can see, it is a manual transmission instead of an automatic. I like it! I like being able to try out and perfect the taste. In my opinion, you should mostly ignore the time of roasting. I think it is a distraction. After first crack, you are the artist. It is in your control, cooling and roasting to create that perfect roast. Forget the time, just wait for second crack and decide how dark you want it.
I am new to it, and I'm still learning. So I expect to perfect the flavor with a bit of hands on attention during the roast. I will follow up review after more experience so we can both see how my impression develops. Overall, it seems like a great roaster, I'm just hoping my coffee tastes as good as Peet's in a month.