It works but build quality is poor, I'd rather have spent money on a PID for a popper.
Positive Product Points
Temp control is done for you. Both presets give a workable sloped temp rise. With 3/4 cup of beans and listening for 2nd crack, anyone can get good coffee out of an I-Roast. Relatively easy to get a temp probe in the chamber. Looks 'normal' in a way that a popper with can chiminey etc does not. :)
Negative Product Points
Loud - much louder than a popper. When the fan is on high it will also issue an intermittant extra-loud vibration noise, which I haven't been able to dampen.
Bean agitation - uneven results with more than 3/4 cup. I end up shaking the unit a bit now and then watching the beans as they (barely) move in the chamber.
Small batch size - I bought it thinking I'd get more beans/batch, but I get less than with a popper (if stirring). 3/4 cup works, a full cup comes out uneven. This is a 4 oz batch size roaster, not the advertised 5.3 oz (full cup).
Low quality control - my unit needs replacing after 3 weeks, I did not heed similar warnings before buying. I'm having more fun using a popper again while I wait for the I-Roast replacement, so my $170 roaster may end up as backup for my poppers, instead of the other way around.
Temp spikes at end of roast - in the last minute of the roast temp rises fast as chaff accumulates on the collector/screen, so you need to listen for cracks and press cool button. If the fan is on high that isn't easy. Heater is underpowered for roasting with the top off to avoid the chaff build up.
You can't see the display unless the unit is elevated or you lean over.
Lack of control during the roast - I'm used to being able to increase or decrease temp.
You need to be careful not to press roast button before you're ready, since cool cycle is automatic 4 min.
No memory to save custom programs when unit is unplugged. No power button.
While you can simply drill a hole through the top, chaff collector and lid base to get a temp probe in the chamber, there is more temp variation from the center to side of the chamber than in a popper. Consequently, I use cracks as an indicator instead of temp.
Roast times vary even with same bean etc, not a major point.
I've tried a number of mods: - Took entire top assembly off, removed the chamber center piece & extended the chamber. I had dreams of a two cup roaster, stirring with a wooden spoon, but the heater isn't strong enough. - Took off chaff collector & lid, attached laundry hose. I thought this might make for a bit more heat retention, but still isn't enough to get to 2nd crack temps. - Took off top screen lid. Enough chaff accumulates at the top of the chaff collector to make the end of roast temp spike similar with and without the lid. - Temp probe - I drilled down through one of the holes in the lid, the chaff collector and the top base. I put my thermocouple into a tube (a section from an old probe) so that chaff wouldn't sneak up to the upper screen and make for more of a temp spike. It hasn't been of much use, at least not like when using a popper where it was very reliable. Now it just tells me when to start listening for cracks. - The coin mod - the only mandatory and useful mod IMHO. I put some coins/washers in a piece of tin foil, place it between the lid and chaff collector to keep chaff from getting under the edge of the collector and blocking the lid screen. Easy and very helpful.
So, I'm basically using the unit as intended, other than the coin mod. The I-Roast does work, unless it don't :).
Sweet marias is great. They recently started using flat rate priority shipping, which people are raving about at the homeroast list. Their email list is also a great way to share and get info, similar to the CG forums and alt.coffee.