This machine is sturdy, simple, and well built. It produces very uniform and reproducible roasts. I have been roasting 2-3 batches a week for the last year and have been very pleased with the results. Good batch size, 135-140 grams. No electronic parts. Has been very reliable. Friends have had similar positive experiences with this machine.
Negative Product Points
Like all fluid bed type roasters, the fan is loud. The roast must primarily be monitored by color and smell. Visibility through the glass top is quite good.
Needs to be cooled down a bit before roasting a second batch. Its ready to go again in 10 minutes or less. I often do 2 roasts of the same varietal and blend them. This works great with the Mexican and Central American alturas. Preserves the bright, clean taste of these wonderful coffees with added complexity.
As I have had no problems with the machine, I have had no experience dealing with Brightway. The machine is so simple that home repairs shouldn't be difficult. I read that others have modified the machine with voltage controllers and temperature sensors. In my situation, I have found none of those things necessary for reliable results. This is a basic and clever design that works.
Sweet Maria's? Who else is there? They are great.
Three Month Followup
Really another nine month follow-up. The roaster continues to give great service with no mechanical problems. About every six months or so, it is adviseable to remove the roast chamber and clean any chafe particles out of the fan and heater chamber. The much hated Brightway is no longer the importer. Servicing and parts are now provided by the Green Beanery. They appear to be good folks to deal with. I like my roaster so much, I bought a second one used and rebuilt it. Now I have a backup (would not want to get caught without a fresh batch) but have not needed it.
One Year Followup
The machine is still giving good service after nearly 3 years of use. I now use a GeneCaffe as my primary roaster and this roaster as my back up. I still heartily recommend this machine as a simple and cost effective way to get into home roasting.