The machine does the job as advertised. Now, about the service.....
Positive Product Points
Good and affordable roasting entry product. I will continue to use for small batches. As opposed to the Gene Cafe, I was clearly able to hear the first and second cracks.
Negative Product Points
Service from freshbeaninc.com was adequate but not real helpful.
I figured since I purchased a relatively high-end espresso machine (Quick Mill Anita), I might as well top off my coffee enhancement experience by roasting my own beans as well.
Despite my negative comment about the timer, I was able to set off the smoke alarms in my attempt to achieve a dark roast. This was my first attempt at a dark roast, and setting the timer at 7.5 minutes (with a 2 minute pre-heat, plus adding a bit more than the suggested two scoops) definitely did the job. I just wanted to see if I could get that oily, French roast bean thing going. I did, at the expense of startling my wife (and the cat) out of their respective socks with the smoke alarms. The darkest roast previously attempted was a City +, which did not create a lot of smoke; nonetheless, my ventilation technique has been adjusted.
I have had the roaster for a month now, and have only roasted about 6 batches. I am starting to appreciate the tastes I get from the lighter roasts. I thought I was strictly a dark roast person before. Also, I think the Anita has helped me achieve extracting those unique flavors inherent to the different beans.
I purchased from Sweet Maria's, who also threw in 8 - 1/2 pound bags of green coffee beans - sweet!
Three Month Followup
Well, 3-months have gone by and I have purchased yet another roaster - the Gene Cafe. I did this not so much because I was dissatisfied with the FreshRoast +8, but thought I needed a larger bean roasting capacity. The FreshRoast performed reasonably well. I had to keep my eyes and ears open during the roast because relying on the timer alone did not guarantee what I wanted, plus every bean is a bit different. Nonetheless, I was able to achieve about any roast I wanted.