Expensive, but worth it if you are looking for consistant large batch performance.
Positive Product Points
Nine oz. roast and consistant and overall even roasts
Negative Product Points
Chaff buildup around the rotating drum can be a fire hazard. The first time you pull the drum you will see how the chaff starts to build up on the side opposite the heating elements, if it is allowed to build up until it reaches the elements you will get a fire.
In order to counter this the drum must be pulled every 3 to 5 roasts, to accomplish this you must remove 4 screws with a phillips head screwdriver. For a regualr maintenance item this removal should be accomplished w/o tools.
All of you minimalists out there with the heat guns and metal bowls don't need to read any further. However if you are interested in one of these huge over priced roasters then read on.
It's bigger than I thought by at least 30%. This sucka is huge. Reading the manual is pretty straight forward. Clip on the heat shields, plug it in, turn it on, select roast level, dump in he coffee when it beeps to tell you is is warmd up.
First Roasting Experiences.
Roast setting = Roast produced.
7 = Charcoal (Who drinks this?) 6 = Starbucks French Roast (~ Charcoal) 5 = As Dark as I ever need to roast (Still a dark french) 4 = Still Pretty dark (Solid Vienna Roast) 3 = Getting there, about what I'd call a Full City still Dark and oily, too dark for espresso in my opinion. 2 = Hint of sheen, Not really releasing any oil. I think this may be where I want my espresso roasts (or maybe +20sec) 1= Havn't tried it yet, reserving it for Kona or Jamacian. Based on the #2 this should be fully into 1st crack and not into 2nd.
Ordered from SM's and I stared out trying to get a good espresso roast with 5 lbs of Espresso Monkey blend. It's not my favorite, but it makes OK drip if I screw it up, and as you may note above I have 2 1/2 lbs of too dark for espresso beans after the first night.
I love the operation of the machine, it looks and opeates like a commercial roaster, from the horizontal drum to the agitator arms on the cooling tray.
Tried it under the stove hood to see if it could handle the smoke, and for the most part it did, but the house reaks of roasting 24 hours later. Garage or deck roasting is in order from here on in.
If the machine is durable I am sold on the even roasting quality and the long roast profile, and the consistancy that I'm seeing now. Every batch hit first crack w/i about 15 seconds of 15:30. First and 2nd crack do run together and unlike the Cafe Rosto I used before, 30 seconds is huge with this machine once you get into 2nd crack, so you have to pay attention, but you are roasting 9 oz at a throw, so you do it 1/2 as much..
Take seriously the requirement to clean out around the drum after every 3 to 5 roasts unless you are roasting something like Monsoned Malabar that has nearly no chaff. THe chaff builds up outside of the drum and if you roast till it fills over the top and around the heating elements you will get a fire. I don't have to experience this to see how it can happan. Pulling the guts requires that you use a phillips head screwdriver and remove 4 screws in order to remove the drum support plate so that the drum can be pulled. Kind of akward for an evolution that has to be performed every 3 to 5 roasts. I'm going to look for some small knurled head screws that can be finger operated to replace them. Every thing comes apart and goes back together easily.
I got this machine because I roast for espresso. I use a Cimbali Jr. grinder and an Isomac Zaffiro machine and I 90% of what I drink are espressos, not lattes or cappos. I've found that with my Cafe Rosto I just cannot get roasts that are consistant week in and week out. Drinking espresso straight from my setup I am very keen to fluxuations that result in sour (under roasted) or bitter (over roasted) pulls, and I was getting good roasts about 1 in 3. The goal here is coffee that is roasted with quality as consistant as the shots I pull. My first impression is that is might deliver.
Sweet Marias always has good service. I ordered right after Christmas and they were out of stock, but kept me informed of expected delivery status and deliverd when projected.