If you treat this unit with a little care, you can prolong its life span, without loss of quality.
Positive Product Points
This is the machine that got me started in this downward coffee spiral. Even though I've had to replace the controll borad twice, it's easy to produce consistent roasts, once you know what the different cracks sound like.
Negative Product Points
As with similar Hearthware products, repair and replacement is an issue, however once you get the right parts, it's smooth sailing again. It's loud, like a hair dryer. Also, when my unit broke down, the first set of replacement control boards they sent me was different from the original installed unit. I requested a new set which were identical to first unit, and have been using this unit ever since.
Although I've replaced multiple circuit boards, I'd be lost without some method of roasting my own coffee. Since January 2002, I've easily roasted over 50 lbs of coffee, of all sizes, and locations. I consistently roast 6-8 batches per week, plus a few more for friends and family.
Here are a few suggestions:
Let the machine rest between batches. At least 5 mins, if not more, otherwise the machine will overheat. Clean the top out as well; don't restrict the airflow.
Use the correct amount of beans. I have found that the best results come from a balanced load of beans.
Do not shake the machine, if the load of beans is unbalanced, tilt the machine until it's balanced. Try not to move the machine when its roasting, this may result in damage to the control board.
If roasting outside, remove the chaff collector and lid assembly, leaving the collector assembly with beans spinning when the unit switches to the cooling cycle. Have a place for the top to rest, as it is very hot. Also, be aware of flying chaff that can burn.
If you choose to cool the beans outside of the machine, replace the collector assembly, and let the machine finish the itís cooling cycle.
I've always liked black coffee and since this purchase... well I'm hooked. Roasting your own coffee, is a great way to get started, and the money I've saved from purchasing green coffee, has easily paid for this roaster.
Lastly, I didn't think the amount of coffee this unit roasted would be an issue, however I find myself wishing for at least an 8-oz. capacity, and will be looking to upgrade to the Alp, or Hottop soon.
No problems at all, even the calls to Hearthware's customer service where quick and effecient, with replacement parts arriving within days.