If you learn to use this roaster as a tool, and not as a set and forget machine, it will meet your needs.
Positive Product Points
This roaster can do it all from charcoal to a City roast. What else can you expect from a roaster? I like the ability to program a profile. The beans are easy to see and it is fun to watch the progression. The unit is easily vented outside, if need be. The results are repeatable. Easy to clean and use.
Negative Product Points
One has to do some modification to achieve an adequate decaf roast. Chaff collector lid fits too loosely – although I had it replaced and the new one is better. The adapter for the outside vent fits too loosely in the chaff collector holes. The machine is loud, but I can dampen the sound with a towel and still hear the cracks even with it vented outside. Without the outside venting, the cracks can be easily heard by listening above the chaff collector. Poor instructions. Could use more information on how actually to roast coffee with custom profiles.
Of course there are things I wish it had that it doesn’t but then it would be a different roaster at a different price – so I’m not listing them as negatives.
Wishes include: that the programed profile would not be lost each time the unit is unplugged. That the temperatures recorded would be more in keeping with bean temps.
I rated the overall function of this product higher than the sum of its parts. Even though there are shortcomings, this may be the best production type roaster available this side of the Hot Top.
Coffee roasters are not like bread machines. There is a learning curve and you have to experiment and understand the roasting process. I always decide when to end the roast based on what I am seeing, hearing or smelling. If you keep notes and experiment, you can have truly great results with this roaster. In fact, after 173 roasts, I have only had one that I threw away – my first attempt at decaf.
As I indicated above, there are things that I can wish for, but then this would be a different roaster. If you can adapt to it, it can serve your needs very well. Again, this is not a set and forget roaster. It is a tool that can accomplish its purpose if the user has the patience to learn. I see the learning curve as one of the joys of home roasting. You learn which beans have little if any chaff, and have to adjust accordingly. You can learn how various beans take heat differently and you will have to adjust your method to the bean – but that is the process of really getting to understand coffee.
I have an early production unit and I understand that the presets have been reconfigured. I cannot comment, therefore, on the new presets, but I wouldn’t use the old ones. There is plenty of online help to develop your own profiles and that is the direction to go. Forget the presets.
I have other means of roasting besides the I-Roast and I am very pleased with the results produced by this roaster. Even though I have other methods, I will not be without the I-Roast and hopefully, one day, its more worthy successor.
Fine. Hearthware stood behind the product when my chaff collector broke and sent me a new one right away. They have been responsive with questions.