This is the first roaster (out of 7) that I'm very happy with.
Positive Product Points
Capacity - 250 grams!
Silent enough that hearing the cracks is not a problem.
Love the viewing window.
There are a few rough edges on inside parts, but overall, the machine is well built.
The manual is great.
So far, the Hottop seems less vulnerable to the ambient temperature than the other roasters I've had. It will be interesting to see how it functions in December/January. (I live in Phoenix but it does get a bit cool during those months.)
Negative Product Points
The LEDs are very hard to read outdoors. Fortunately, it's not hard to remember to count the beeps, so you know where it should be. I then shade the panel with my hand to confirm. I know there's a "hack" for this but I prefer to not do it.
I've only had mine for 6 months & the green panel is already coming off.
When one of the early adopters mentioned he’d had his Hottop for a year and all the recently acquired HT’s received glowing reviews, I realized I’d not seen any posts on alt.coffee, SM’s homeroast list or Coffeegeek.com from disgruntled Hottop owners, as is often the case, after the honeymoon is over with a new roaster. Furthermore, Sweet Marias and Coffee Bean Corral began carrying it. I began to get “the bug”. So in a moment of weakness & after being informed of my bonus at work, I ordered a Hottop. The decision was further justified by promising myself to Ebay all my other roasters, except for the Fresh Roast, which would serve as backup.
Since many people mentioned that the Hottop was larger and more well built than they’d anticipated and since I’d used measurements someone posted, the size did not floor me, although it is a hefty machine. First roast (obligatory ‘within one hour of receiving’ roast) - Columbian. Although I’ve used an Alpenrost several times (which has the longer roasting cycle, too), since you can’t view the beans in it, I was concerned when about 6 minutes into the roast, the beans were still green. Thought perhaps I’d received a faulty unit. But no, it’s just a longer, slower roast than the other home roasters. When you can over roast beans in a Fresh Roast in 5 minutes, it’s quite odd to still see green/yellow beans 6 minutes into the cycle!
During the second roast, the table I had the HT on apparently was uneven & when the beans were ejected, some didn’t make it into the cooling tray. The ‘after every roast’ cleaning is very easy. The “big clean” I do after 4-5 roasts takes a while but I’m one who likes to keep my roasters nice & shiny. I use Greased Lightening & a toothbrush on the various parts to remove the coffee oils & run the drum through the dishwasher.
Coffee Bean Corral includes a pair of heat resistant gloves. For a klutz like myself, who sports at least one scar from brushing against a hot oven rack from many years ago and who has to consciously remind myself that the Caffè Rosto (which doesn’t have any handle) is HOT – DO NOT TOUCH!), this is a very good thing.
Per notes on Randy Glass' website, I've obtained some computer fans from Nexfan.com to use as filters. But I've not yet used them.
Since this machine roasts a larger amount than most home roasters, the amount of smoke it produces is also a larger amount, so keep this in mind.
The cooling cycle always seems to remind me of something out of “Tremors”.
Buying from Russ at CBC is always a pleasant experience.
Three Month Followup
I still LOVE the Hottop & would buy it again. I think it's VERY important to do the "big clean" where the drum is removed & the chaf vacuumed out every ~4 roasts. Alot of chaf can get lodged in there & it's VERY flammable.
Although the Hottop doesn't work as well in very cold temperatures, it can handle lower temperatures than any of the other roasters I've had.