This review is on the Swissmar Bravi, and is not yet a product category. Since it's based on the older Alpenrost Machine, I've posted my review here, and requested a new product form from CG.
I initially liked the adjustable vent idea to work with my stove top Jenn Aire exhaust fan. The Jenn Aire pulled all the smoke (which is considerable)and left a huge thick blue cloud of smoke on my deck. This was great as I was able to stop using my laundry room and exhaust fan/open window that worked for the less smoke producing freshroast and Z&D.
Starting with the negative product points:
On the manual the roaster is rated for 120 volts, 60 Hz, 1020 watts. Although I haven't check my actual voltage, I know my kitchen will flip a breaker if I run a toaster oven and a microwave at the same time(i have alot of light bulbs in there). Now my voltage levels and drops aren't a reason to negatively rate a machine, I want to point out that it is sensitive to running at a lower voltage, and I had several runs of vienna to city along with one run of french roast, before I realized it was probably a voltage problem causing the lighter roasts.
Giving up on the idea of using my Jenn Aire to vent the smoke and roast inside, unless I used a Variac (even then I doubt if thats a good idea, please correct me if I'm wrong), I decided to move the unit into the garage. Since then I've been able to get dark, consistant roasts.
Roasting Tanzania peaberry beans had 4 or 5 lodged in the holes in the roasting drum. They weren't charcoal, and they fell out when I broke them.
The bean cup is oddly shaped and it's difficult to pour out the beans without spilling. There is usually a few extra beans at the end of the roast in the roasting drum, and occasionally in the chaff tray.
Filling the roasting drum can be tricky as you are pouring beans through the vane ends that reach the top of the container.
The little rubber feet, there's 6, need to be attached better at the factory, i will find some glue to make them stick.
The unit sounds like my Kitchenaid mixer and it's difficult to make out the popping sounds for the stages of roasting. Being unable to lift the lid or see the beans, I'm a little uncomfortable about timing the roast on sound, especially when there's so much smoke I'm wondering if the batch is on fire inside.
With setting for 1-15 I found with my voltage a setting of 14 gives consistat results.
Now the Good points:
The Bravi produces a fairly even roast. I have to look through the resultant roast to pick out the usual 2-3 green beans which I figure were blown into the bean cup early on. The coffee has a deep earthy smell. The resultant brews have way more flavor then the Z&D or freshroast could produce. In my usual mochas there is a stronger, richer coffee flavor. In my Brevi's an lattes there's a whole new level of deeper complexity.
I'm used to the hot beans produced by my other roasters. The coolness of the roasts on the Bravi's is amazing, considering the darkness of the roasts I've done. When the machines done, it's blows the beans into the bean cup, and I don't have to take any extra steps to cool it down.
The interior of the lid and the path to the fan are coated with a teflon like material, and i'm able to clean it quickly with a sprayed vinegar-water solution and paper towels. A small painbrush will clean out the chaff between the exposed elements, taking about 3 mins total to clean each time.
The unit is large, heavy and feels solid. The materials don't look cheap. It's looks like you get what you pay for.
Roasts 8 oz of beans. This is far more coffee, and far fewer roasting cycles then with my other 2 roasters.
Smoke: This machine produces alot of smoke. There's just no way you could run this in a room without a dedicated fan and ducting blowing the smoke outside. Even then you'd have to watch it every step of the way, as you would never want leave this machine unattended (or any other roaster for that matter).