Hearthware is a company that for many is synonymous with home roasting.
No other company has been producing electric home coffee roasters longer than Hearthware, and many seasoned home roasters have bought products from this company once they felt it was time to move on from the modified hot air popcorn popper.
From the Hearthware Gourmet, to the Precision, to the current offerings, the iRoast and iRoast 2, this tiny company has released a series of improved products that see advances in digital controls, larger roasting volumes, and a better quality roasted product.
This is our first look at the latest offering by Hearthware, the iRoast2. The product appears nearly identical to the original iRoast, but has seen some improvements, including changes to the software that drives the roaster, additional user settings, and some changes in the machine's physical characteristics.
CoffeeGeek was supplied an iRoast by Hearthware direct, and have been very helpful in answering a range of technical and usability questions we've had during the initial stages of this review. The company has always had very good support and warranty services, even though in the past their products have been used, abused, and pushed beyond the normal design limits they were built to, by some enthusiastic roasters. This service and support continues today.
As a side note, if you are a regular reader of CoffeeGeek's reviews and especially the first looks, this review will mark a change in how we write our First Looks.
In the past, we conducted a 1 or 2 week "mini test" of a product and posted the results as a "First Look". Many, including product suppliers, took this to be a full review, and that was never the intention of First Looks. The intention was always to present an initial description and discussion on a product, along with some very early test results, but almost always in the most favourable light possible while still remaining objective. The Detailed Review was supposed to be where no punches are pulled - all the good, and the bad about a product.
As well, First Looks were taking nearly as long to write as most websites and magazines full detailed reviews for other products. Because of this, they are few and far between.
After much discussion with some of CoffeeGeek's most veteran members, some of our product suppliers and sponsors, and some of the writers, past and present on the site, we've made a major "policy change" on CoffeeGeek regarding First Looks. From now on, they will just be a cursory examination, providing photography and information about the product, its purpose, how it works, what market it addresses, and other pertinent information. In some cases, I (or the author of the First Look) will give a mini primer on the technology the machine fits into, or other interesting information.
This will still make us pretty unique when compared to most "First Looks" in other industry magazines and websites - but we'll also be following the standard formula more now: we will no longer "review" or provide initial commentary on the machine, other than to give a basic product "walk through". All critical commentary and reviews will be saved for the QuickShot Reviews and for the Detailed Reviews.
Further, there may be cases where we will provide a "First Look" for a product, but no full review down the road. If this is the case for a particular product, I'll do my best to state this in that product's First Look - again following the formula in many product review magazines, websites and tv shows, sometimes, they only give an initial look at a product, and save the hyper-detailed review look for a select few.
Lastly, rest assured that even though we are changing site policy and focus for the "First Look" component of professional reviews on this website, one thing will never change - this content cannot be "bought". In other words, every word we print in the Professional Reviews section will be honest, unbiased, objective, truthful, and in no way influenced by product suppliers or "paid for" publicity. We value the trust you have in the website and our reviews, and would never do anything to erode that trust.
And now, without further ado, onto the First Look for the Hearthware iRoast!