After finding this roasters temperature 'sweet spot', achieving the desired roast has been easy, and the taste has been excellent.
Positive Product Points
Easy to operate. Easy to reach desired roast (light to dark). Easy to clean. Produces consistent roasts independent of batch size (within stated capacity)
Negative Product Points
Motor noise prevents hearing the beans crack.
This is my first roaster, and I am very pleased with its performance after using it for about 2 months. I purchased from Sweet Maria's and found the information on their web site a useful supplement to the owners manual.
After opening the box and setting it up, I was initially disappointed by the simplicity of the controls, as I had expected to be able to run something like a 'program'. There are only two controls on this machine: a timer setting, and a temperature setting. As I have come to learn, this is all the control needed to produce great roasts. Why? Because every batch of coffee behaves a little differently (air temperature, humidity, the particular beans, ...), and I've found that I need to see how each batch progresses and react accordingly (e.g. when to start cooling the beans). The simple controls make mid roast corrections easy.
The most difficult aspect to using the Gene Cafe roaster has been 'calibrating' the temperature. My first couple of roasts didn't turn out to well because I followed 'recipes' from the owners manual and the internet. Setting my roaster to 482 degrees (the maximum) produces scorched beans within17 minutes. I solved that problem by roasting small batches, beginning at 400 degrees and working up from there. By the 4th batch I found that I was able to achieve a city roast in the neighborhood of 18 minutes at a setting of 465 degrees. Now that I've found my roaster's 'sweet spot', achieving different roast levels has been a matter of starting the cooling cycle at the right time.
Publications about roasting coffee often mention listening for the coffee to crack to judge how far the roast has progressed. Unfortunately, I have never heard the crack because of the motor noise. This is my biggest complaint about the roaster, and it hasn't been a problem, as I have been able to judge the progress by color.
A couple of days ago my daughter asked me if I had gotten my money's worth, and I said 'definitely'. I have never had so many great cups of coffee, nor experienced so much variety in flavor and taste.
Sweet Maria's - http://www.sweetmarias.com/. I bought online, and the roaster arrived within a week. No problems at all. Since then I have ordered beans online. Again delivery was within a week with no problems.