I am writing this review on the FreshRoast 8+.
Even though i'm an electrical engineer, I have little desire to rip apart a popcorn popper to transform it into a bean roaster. Can you say fire hazard? It just seems like an accident waiting to happen. I went with the cheapest roaster I could find, the FreshRoast. I don't regret buying this machine, because I learned a lot. Sure, I had read what first crack and second crack sound like, but not what they smell like. There are just some things that you have to experience, and I would hate to have to learn on some loud roaster with limited bean visibility. This machine is very quiet, you can see the beans as they roast, and if you pay attention during the roast you can figure out pretty much everything thats going on.
I have two main problems with the FreshRoast at this point:
a) It roasts too fast, and
b) the batches are too small.
There is clearly brightness in my cup when I roast my own beans, which I attribute to problem a). Using a long extension cord to slow down the roast, I achieve first crack in about 5 minutes, and second crack about 2 minutes later for an overall roast time of 7 minutes. From what i've read, the beans should be roasted twice about as long to hit second crack. As far as batch size, you can only roast enough beans for roughly one pot of coffee. I like roasting my own green beans, but I don't want to do it *every* day.
In the future this machine will become a backup. My FR8+ seems like it still has plenty of roasts in it, but I simply want more capacity. I believe this machine is a good choice for someone who wants to try home roasting, but is not certain if they will like it.
Well, about 2 weeks after posting this review my FreshRoast died. Out of the blue the fan stopped, but the heater kept going, and I have no doubt there would have been a fire had I not been there. The warranty period is one year, and it has been one year and one month so i'm out of luck. Based on this experience, I am lowering the quality to a 4, but the rest of my review still stands. Any product that only barely outlasts its warranty is not a quality product in my book.
I have been careless in the past about leaving this thing alone for a couple of minutes, but thank goodness I didn't this time. In the few short seconds between when the fan stopped and when I unplugged the unit, the plastic melted onto the roasting chamber, and all of the beans on the bottom instantly became smoking charcoal. As hard as I would dare to pull, I could not get the roasting chamber to detach to quench the smoking beans. Let this server as a reminder to all of you, *PLEASE* do not leave your roaster unattended.