Great for beginners but quickly outgrown once you learn the ropes
Positive Product Points
Once it's set up and programmed and you've found the right roast profile it's dead easy to roast regularly. Physically it seems pretty durable.
Negative Product Points
Tricky to program, I had to pull out the manual today just to jog my memory when I wanted to adjust a roasting profile. Also it's very easy to accidentally write over your saved profile and not know it and it lacks an easy way to review an existing profile so you can't be sure if this has happened without doing a roast. Way...WAY too small, doesn't roast enough quantity at once. Because the size is so small you have to roast several batches at once if you use it regularly and the stated resting time between batches in the manual is a major drawback because it can take a long time to get all the roasting done. The temperature display is misleading / inaccurate so there's no reason to use it which means it's a pointless feature and should be improved or removed.
I've had this roaster for 9 months now. I roast decaf beans for espresso about every 6 days since we bought it and each roasting day I do 4 to 5 150 gram runs at a time with a 15 minute rest period between each one. It hasn't died but with nothing else changed at all, no conditions, not the beans, not even the outlet it's plugged into it's started roasting progressively darker in the same time period to the point where I've taken now a full minute off my original perfect profile to keep the same roast.
It's a fine product for it's purpose which is as a good introduction to roasting for a beginner and I think it's a wise purchase if you don't go the home made roaster route to start out with. The problem is that once you taste fresh roasted coffee it's hard to go back so you will more than likely use it all the time, at which point you quickly realize how small it is and yearn for a much larger capacity roaster. Problem is that there really isn't anything affordable that roasts a larger batch; it's a huge price jump to get into a larger roaster.
It's not my ideal roaster only for the capacity reason. If someone could come up with a roaster that could do my entire 600gm batch all in one go at a reasonable price it would be an ideal product for the home roaster who isn't made of money but wants to roast all their beans regularly.
(I paid CA$249.00 about 9 months ago, I have no idea what that was back then in US dollars so I guessed 200.00)
I've been dealing with the same vendor Greenbeanery.ca for about a nine months now and I'd give them a 5 out of 10. They have a near monopoly on grean beans and roasters here in Canada and the U.S. companies like Sweet Marias have ridiculous shipping policies to Canada which makes it even more of a monopoly. In terms of this product itself other than misleading shipping information I was satisifed with the purchase. In terms of the beans and their overall customer service I feel like I'm dealing with people that don't really do it for the coffee but for the causes that they support and I don't get the feeling they care a tenth as much as a company like Sweet maria's does about the coffee itself. Also some times when I've had to email or phone them I get the feeling the people are stoned or out of it on the phone and their customer service is indifferent and in one case actually insulting.
Three Month Followup
It seems to be starting to pack it in. Sometimes it makes strange surging sounds as if it's struggling to keep the fan blowing and the roast profile doesn't seem very accurate any more. I have three profiles a light, medium and dark and now I'm consistently having to use the light to avoid completely burning the beans but I haven't changed the settings in months. Also since I mentioned the vendor before I have to add that we're definitely looking for someone else. They messed up our green bean order offered to replace the part messed up with the correct beans at no charge, then a day later emailed and told us since they are a charity we should not be asking for a replacement for our beans even though they had offered in the first place! They were trying to guilt us into accepting an incorrect order. Not cool charity or not.
One Year Followup
Had the unit replaced once, Greenbeanery was good about it and it's been going strong ever since. We've used it regularly once or twice a week since we got it and multiple batches each time with a 20 minute delay between each to let it cool down completely. Does the job perfectly however I still wish there was a larger unit out there at a comparable price, it's just too small for a serious coffee drinker but you can get by with it.