A very easy to use machine which makes home roasting available to the masses.
Positive Product Points
- No Smoke! - Mixes beans for even roasts - Buttons/Interface very easy to use
Negative Product Points
- Noisy - Hard to clean out canister because auger isn't removable - Longer roast times than other roasters out there - Small (~ 1/4 lb.) capacity
This is my first experience using any coffee roaster, although I did a lot of online research before purchasing the Z&D roaster.
One of the main reasons for purchasing this roaster is the smokeless operation, so first of all i'd like to say how well that really works. I roast inside, with windows cracked, but no fan or anything and after a dozen or so roasts, I have never once noticed any smoke. There is air blowing out of the machine during the roast, so I am able to smell the beans, etc. while roasting, so overall I'm very happy with the smokeless operation.
Using the roaster is very simple. I fill the canister up to the fill line with green beans, set the timer somewhere between 20 and 28 minutes depending on how dark I want to roast, and then click on the 'start' button. If the roast goes faster than I expected, I can hit the cool button to start the 5 minute cooling process (which is always the last 5 minutes of the roasting time). There is also a way to add an extra five minutes to the roast by hitting the up arrow, but I haven't had to do that yet... Anyway, with only four buttons and a display which only shows minutes left in the roast, the Z&D is a very easy machine to use.
I don't drink espresso, so I probably do roast on the lighter side. Most of my roasts are around a full city -- on either side of 2nd crack, depending on the beans. The auger is constantly mixing the beans during roasting and cooling, so the roasts always come out very even. The downside to the auger is that it makes a lot of noise mixing the beans, and also the beans hitting the side of the canister make it hard to hear 1st and 2nd cracks for certain beans. Some beans seem to crack louder than others and I have no problems hearing the individual cracks.
Whie learning how to roast, I have done a couple roasts too light and one too dark. However, most of the roasts I've done have turned out wonderful. It is also very easy to duplicate roasts in this machine due to the very even roasting, and the fact that all you change is the time of the roast; there is no control of the temp.
Overall, I am very happy with the Z&D roaster. As a first roaster, I don't think I could have made a better choice. The smokeless operation makes it very inviting, and the ease of use makes me wonder why I didn't start roasting my own beans before. (Answer: I hadn't heard of it until recently!) The canister seems very sturdy, so I don't forsee any problems with it - the plastic lid which closes over the top of the unit seems like it could be a bit more durable, so I'm not sure how long it will stay tight over everything...
Purchased direct from Z&D at coffeeroasting.com since it was on sale for $99. The purchase was easy, although the first link they sent me for tracking the order gave me a page with database errors. When trying to email them to report the problem, the email bounced back... The unit did ship within a couple of days, and was received a few days later, so there was no problem, but being unable to contact them via email wasn't a good feeling.