Roasting process is visable through the glass top, this is very helpful when you are starting, the Stainless roasting chamber gives the impression that the machine is well built.
Negative Product Points
The information provided in the supplied literature is misleading as to the capacity of the machine. (It gives the impression that the machine will roast a full cup (provided) of beans.
Cleaning the lower chaff screen requires that you invert the entire machine to brush out the screen.
Consistent roasting requires attention to detail. Bean weight and size have a significant impact on the total weight of beans that the roaster will accept. (See detailed commentary)
I've owned this roaster for quite some time now. I would estimate that I have roasted close to 40 pounds of beans in my Cafe Roasto. The machine is a hot air roaster (although there may be some conduction roasting from the steel walls of the machine). The hot air is supplied from a fairly large cylindrical vent with a dome shaped top in the center of the roasting chamber. Air is ducted out of the sides of the cylinder. Roasting time is controlled with a mechanical timer that has a max setting of 13 min for roasting, plus a 4 min cool down.
For reference, I tend to like my roasts on the dark side; with few exceptions I like my beans to second crack and a little beyond.
One of the first things I noticed was that different beans roasted quite differently in the machine for a given volume. Obviously beans vary in weight and the machine is quite sensitive to this. The trick to getting a good roast from this machine is to fill the roasting chamber with a quantity of beans that will be slowly agitated but not whirled, if the charge of beans whirls in the chamber you will never get to 2nd crack, I have roasted for 2 full 13 min cycles with a charge that was whirling around and never got close to 2nd crack. If you over charge the chamber you will get an uneven roast.
I have recently invested in a cheap digital scale to weigh the charge of beans placed in the roasting chamber and have found that different beans roast better with different weights. For example, Yemeni Mocca Raimi roasts well with 4 ˝ oz, while Sulawasi Toroja can’t handle more than an even 4 oz, and Ugandan Robusto beans that I blend in my Espresso do best with about 3 7/8. One quarter of an oz change in the charge can completely change the character of the roast you achieve.
If you are going for dark roasts, look in on the roast at the beginning…if you are getting agitation, but not whirling, you are ok, if the beans are whirling add a few more, if they are not agitating, take a few out. The agitation does pick up as the beans dry out approaching first crack.
I keep a small notebook and weigh the charges, and I get good consistent results. Before I got the scale, it was a guessing game. I would strongly recommend that anyone getting this roaster invest $29 in a cheap digital scale from WalMart. You will be happier with your results.
I bought it from Sweet Marias...Point, click, it comes in a couple of days.