This is a great machine for those new to home roasting. It could not be easier to use, simply set the timer, listen for the beans to progress through the roasting stage and move the dial to cool when you think the beans are ready. Clean up is easy and the mess from hulls is minimal.
Negative Product Points
The bean container warped after about 18 months of use. After 2 years, I can't get the bean container out of the roaster base. It also seems to be sensitive to electricity quality - voltage inconsistency (which is a problem in my house) leads to a little roasting inconsistency.
I bought this machine after reading an article in the NY Times about home roasting beans. It seemed like a good way to take my coffee hobby to the next level.
The Fresh Roaster is the ideal starter machine. I knew nothing about roasting when I got it, and was able to quickly get up to speed. This first few cups of freshly roasted coffee was incredible. The difference between truly fresh roasted and store bought is difficult to appreciate until you experience it.
The Fresh Roaster can roast a small batch within 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the roast. The small batch size work for me because I keep four varieties going at all times - press coffee, decaf press coffee, espresso, and decaf espresso - and I can't drink enough of any one variety to justify roasting large batches. Th ease of use means that I can start roasting while doing something else - like make espresso - so that roasting is close to no incremental time spent. That said, the batches are small enough that I usually make two batches at a time and the machine needs to cool down for at least 15 minutes between batches.
The only real downside has been the durability. After 18 months the bean container was warped. By 2 years, the container is permanently stuck in the base and the top of the base has started to crack.
I'll likely replace it with a higher end machine, but I'm very happy I started with something this easy to use.
Very smooth. Sweet Maria's tip sheets are very helpful and the site has a wealth of information on home roasting.