Ease of Use Consistent Results Adequate Batch Size Cleans Easy Good Product Support
Negative Product Points
Glass Drum Delicate Rubber Bumper Wears Out Plastic Parts (Gears, etc) Expensive but Reliable So Far
I didn't know anything about coffee roasting before I purchased the Gene Cafe Roaster. Read quite a bit about roasting prior to purchase and really didn't want to mess with the hot air popcorn popper or other crude methods. I wanted something straight forward and easy to use. The Gene Cafe Roaster has proved itself many times over with consistent and delicious roasts. After maybe 50 roasts in 6 months I feel like a pro with this machine. Initially worried about the ability to hear the stages of cracking over the drum motor has proved unwarranted and it's easy enough to hear from chaff collector end of the machine. I now have my coffee roasting chore down to about 25 minutes from start to finish.
I roast in 300 g. batches which yields about 1/2 pound of roasted coffee. The more mass in the chamber the longer it takes to heat up and 300 g. is the max limit recommended. Then crank the temperature control on max 482 deg. and let it go. First crack in about 12-14 minutes depending upon the ambient temperature. At first crack the temperture reading is in the range of 470-ish and dial down the temperature to about 460 deg for the final phase. I then monitor the smoke and smell coming from the chaff collector. In 2-4 minutes the visual "smoke" changes from white steam to a more blue colored smoke. The smell also changes from grassy to a roasted/burning aroma. I know second crack is eminent or starting to happen. When roasting is finished I press and hold the Temperature Select knob until the letter 'E' appears and the drum will stop in the neutral position. Remove the drum (with gloves) and dump into a collander to cool with aid of a fan. It's that easy.
If the Gene Cafe Roaster holds up to yield 500 roasts then I think I will have gotten my moneys worth from the product. If replacing a few parts every year or so and they are easy to obtain then I will be happy enough. This machine taught me a lot about coffee roasting in a very short time!
I purchased my Gene Cafe Roater from Coffee Bean Corral and was an easy, simple process. Plus I got a lot of free bean samples to try!
Three Month Followup
This is a one-year followup. About 100 roasts under my belt with this machine. I did have a temperature cycling issue which turned out to be stiffled air flow due to clogged chaff collector screen. So about every six months I will clean the air input screen on the bottom of the unit and the chaff screen. The rubber bumper inside the chamber seems to be holding up. I have dialed back the max temp to around 464 deg. This extends the roasts about a minute which I prefer for the end product. The Gene Cafe roaster is still working perfectly though. Now my friends are hooked on the coffee and request I bring batches when I visit. I keep suggesting they buy their own Gene Cafe!
One Year Followup
18 month followup. No new problems to report. Cleaning the chaff collector screen about every 6 months keeps it happy. I also started using the water quench method of cooling the beans after roasting. Water is sprayed on the hot beans to quickly cool them to warm. A fan is then employed to dry the roasted beans and blow away the remain chaff. Works great.