This is a great machine for the beginner and the seasoned home roaster and is backed by a responsive company. .
Positive Product Points
The positive points are:
Easy to use and does not have a large learning curve
Easy to assemble, disassemble, and clean. It is dishwasher safe for most parts except for the base which contains the electronics.
Works out of the box and so far no problems with this machine.
Unique design which uses an auger to stir the beans and produce a consistent roast in color and size.
Slow roast which is adjustable by changing the amount of beans being roasted. This slow roast results in a taste that is more like drum roast than a hot air roaster.
The roasts are consistent and repeatable.
This machine is as close to a set and walk away as a roaster can get.
The only time I have had a problem with the fire alarms going off in the house is if I do a roast well into second crack. Oh, I don't have to run the range exhaust fan either.
The customer service has been fabulous. The company has bent over backwards to help me and others.
Negative Product Points
The only negative is that the machine does take up a lot of space. The design of the machine includes a filter which reduces the smoke produced by the roast and this makes the machine base large. Other than that I haven't found any other negatives
This is a new type of roaster. One first notices the auger in the middle of the roast chamber. This design ensures a constant movement of the beans. The machine comes with 3 pounds of beans and all the necessary parts to begin roasting. The base contains a digital timer and the ability to start the roast for up to 30 minutes and to add 5 more minutes. The chaff catcher sits on top of the roast chamber and the rest of the machine is a filter to reduce the smoke to the least I have ever seen.
Ok on to the roasting process. The roasting chamber has a fill line which I have found is good for a medium city roast and 3/4 of the fill line will allow a much darker roast. So you pour the beans into the roast chamber and put on the top. I have heard that some people have had troubles with putting the top on correctly but I have not had this problem at all.
Next you set the time, which I have been setting to 20 minutes and usually pushing the cooldown a minute or two early. Push the start button and sit back. The one feature my wife really likes is that there is a minimal amount of mess. The chaff collector is very efficient and the only mess is when the top is removed some chaff may escape. Compared to my previous roasters this is very minor. The cool down period is 5 minutes and can be started at anytime by pushing the cooldown button. The cool down could be better but it is adequate. Care should be taken since the top and the chaff collector are hot at the end of the roast. Both the top and chaff collector must be removed to get the beans out.
I have been able to get the same roast from the same type of beans by just resetting the timer. This repeatable roast is a new experience since my other roasters would not do this. The roast have I gotten, doing a roast 3 times a week for the month I have had the machine, have been great! The brightness which is typical of the hot air roasters is mellowed by the longer roast but the brightness can be obtained by just reducing the amount of beans in the roasting chamber.
The crowning glory of this machine is the customer service. The machine debuted at $150 and came with a whirly blade grinder. I orginally bought it at $150. Later the company dropped the price to $115 without the whirly blade grinder (which I didn't want anyway). I emailed the company and asked what about people who bought before the reduction in price. To make a short story shorter, they agreed to refund the amount ($35) in merchandise. They sell beans, I can always use beans, so it was a win win situation. No hassle no problem. I have talked to their customer service, ask for Lisa the caffine queen, and have yet to be disappointed by their service.
Just to make the deal even sweeter there is a 30 day money back gurantee no questions asked. I have no doubt it would be honored but can't verify that since I haven't and nobody I know has used this. That is the reason I bought the machine.
The only question left on the machine is its durability. So far it has performed with no problems. I will report back in 3 months with more on its durability.
The customer service as stated above has been great! The people at Zach and Dani's seem to care and always answer my questions. They have post on ALT.coffee and that is one of the only manufacturers that I have seen do that. They reduced the price of their machine afte many posts on the newsgroup stated they did not want the whirly blade grinder. They refunded in merchandise the difference in price to previous owners. I don't know what more one could ask of the company.
I guess you could say I am one satisfied customer.
Three Month Followup
The machine is still working like it did when I first bought it! That for a home roaster is a first. This machine is easier to use the longer I have it. The convience of not having to hover over the machine while it roast is the best part. I would buy this unit again in a heart beat.
One Year Followup
Again I only have praise for this machine's reliability. The ZAD still works like it did when I first bought it. I have replaced nothing on it. I have found that as with any roaster it took time to learn how to use it but that was relatively easy. I roast three to four times a week with a full load and have not experienced any problems. I would recommend this machine to anyone.