So far, so good. Aside from some minor inconveniences the Z&D consistently produces great coffee.
Positive Product Points
Easier to tweak roast's than had read. Smoke virtualy eliminated. Easy to clean. Good value for the money. If done right, has the ability to produce as exceptional cup.
Negative Product Points
Top needs a re-design. Should have latches or a strap to secure, Top should have a handle for removal. Chaff collection needs work. Should have variable heat control. Too loud. Hard to hear cracks.Too much plastic. LED should be back- lit.
I'm a relative newbie to the home roasting world, although a fine coffee lover for many years. I've been using a WB Poppery 2 then on-to a Poppery 1 that I modified myself. So, fluid Bed roasting with the occasional experiment of gas oven and stovetop roasting are my methods of choice. After much review and research, I thought I'd try the Z&D. With 30-day money back guarantee, 3 pounds of green coffee and a container, plus video for $99.00, it was a no brainer to try. Pre-heated the roast chamber for 3 min. Poured to the dark fill line with Columbian supremo and 26 min. on the timer, thinking to stop the roast if I judged it too long. So, 21 minutes into actual roast, I let the machine enter the pre-programmed 5-minute cool down cycle and let the machine cool for 1 minute. Unplugged and immediately cooled the roast via refrigerated colander. Roast was let to rest 14 hours then ground using a good burr grinder and brewed in a Cappresso MT-500 drip machine. Both my wife and I agreed it was the best cup yet produced by our machine. French pressed, even better. My opinions are, that if the Z&D is pre-heated and manually cooled, you can still retain cup brightness and have great body as well. I think this will eliminate the "flat-cup" experience of some. I admit I was getting burned out on fluid bed acidity. Overall opinion: The Z&D needs some re-design. (See negative product points above), but overall a very usable beginning roaster.
Flawless! Ordered over the phone. The young lady engaged me in pleasant conversation for over 10 minutes making sure I was getting everything I needed and answering every question I could think of. Machine arrived exactly when they said and in good condition.
Three Month Followup
In the past 3 months, I've roasted 14 lb's of green in this machine without a hitch. I do a 5 minute warm up, fill to the dark line only and cool immediately after the roast cycle is complete. After 3 or 4 roasts as you get used to the machines white noise, the cracks become more audible. My method for rapid cooling is a large wire mesh pencil box atop a vortex fan. Roasting and cooling in this manner using the Z&D retains cup brightness and full body. My typical roast times are averaging. 18 minutes plus one minute cooling. The Roast's easily equal or exceed boutique roasters comparable product. The top does need redesign. I use a 3lb. lead diving weight to keep the top secure. Bottom line. I like the Z&D very much. Very reliable and predictable.