It will provide awesome roasts and last well if properly maintained.
Positive Product Points
-Capable of very good results with a wide range of different roasts from light to dark. -The roast is very even -It gives you some roast time between 1st and 2nd crack to pick exactly where you want to stop -Tuning the roast is made even easier by a cool down cycle is fast and effective -Batch size is just right for me and my home use -Easy to safely take apart and clean or repair -DC motor is beefy and so are it's brushes.
Negative Product Points
-If not properly maintained (i.e. keeping the output vent clear with regular cleaning) it will overheat and blow the thermal fuse. -Except for the motor and lid the components are cheap. The metal used throughout is very flimsy. -No direct control over roast temperature. You can only tweak it by varying the ambient temperature outside the roaster. -Rubber washer on the lid looks like it will wear out (still ok for now)
This machine has lasted well and has roasted some 35 lbs of coffee for me thus far.
An interesting thing about the roaster is it recycles some of the hot air after pushing it up through the beans, returning it to the bottom of the chamber to be pushed up through the heating element again. Another portion of the air pushing through the chamber is coming from under the unit however, and this is why ambient temp plays a big role in how it roasts. If you're roasting indoors the roaster is very predictable because room temp doesn't change much. Take it outdoors for the first and wow! you have to recalibrate your timing all over. If its too cold out (below 50F maybe?) you can't even get a passable medium roast after a pretty long roast cycle. (hopefully YOUR significant other can handle the mild smoke smell that results from just putting the unit near a window)
Another side effect of this method of operation is that if the output vent (the one facing you in coffeegeek's front-on picture of the unit) is clogged, too much of the hot air is recycled and the unit overheats. The thermal fuse is rated at 240C (>400F) so when I blew it things were definitely getting out of control, and I knew something was up because i had second crack at 7 minutes instead of 11 or 12. Its easy to avoid though, if you just take a toothbrush to the screen every few roasts and really scrub out all the debris.
If the fuse does blow (you'll know because it simply wont heat any more, just blow air) unplug the unit and disassemble it, unless you are afraid of gadgets:
-The bottom cover comes off first, just unscrew all the visisble screws on the bottom of the unit. There will be a mess of gummy smoke/particle buildup all over the insides if you use it heavily.
-After you pull some grey foam out of the way, you'll find a little black cone-shaped wire connector. Unscrew it from the bundle of wound wires. These three black leads will simply be reconnected with the same cap later.
-You can reach the white lead that connects to the side of the mechanical timer with a pair of needle-nose pliers, carefully pull up (towards the bottom of the now inverted roaster) on it and wiggle it free from the post.
-invert the unit and unscrew the three screws at the bottom of the roasting chamber.
-Carefully remove the the roast chamber along with its companion the chaff basket holder
-Lift and remove the dome that rises up in the middle of the chamber along with its cone shaped air scoop thingy on the inside.
-Now you can see the heating element its just a disc with a coil on the bottom. You will have to push the white lead and its companion black lead (they're bundled) up from the inside of the bottom of the machine to allow the coil to be removed. They will have to pass through two rectangular shaped holes (one in the plastic one in the metal base of the chamber).
-With the heating element separated you can easily see the thermal fuse. Its connected by two rivets. I just carefully pulled the fuse's ends out of the rivets and replaced it, then reclamped the rivets. You'll need a 240 C 10/15 amp fuse. Radio Shack sells a 229 C 10 amp fuse and that seems to work as my replacement. The fuse is there to handle temperature that is WILDLY out of control and I think 229 C fits that description.
If you want the unit to last a LONG time you should really do this disassembly occasionally just so you can clean and de-gum the inside.