solid construction, small batch size, fast roasts. A great machine for a 1 or 2 coffee drinking household
Positive Product Points
fast small easy to figure out customer service
Negative Product Points
I've owned the Fresh Roast plus8 for about 2 months and have been very pleased with its performance. This is my first coffee roaster, and originally I had considered the Zach and Dani's, but was encouraged to go with the Fresh Roast by Cate of Cates Green Coffee, due to the amount of coffee consuption at my home.
The Fresh Roast is very simple to use, plug it in, turn the dial and watch and listen as the beans change from green to brown. First and second cracks are easy to hear, and the smoke produced is minimal. This is not to say there is no roasting aroma, there is plenty of that...just a very little smoke.
The main disadvantages are the small roasting volume (~64 grams) and the speed of roast. The small roasting volume is only an issue because it makes it necessary to roast more often, but this isn't really a chore due to the fast roast times. However, the fast roast time makes getting the exact roast you are looking for a little bit tricky.
I would buy this roaster again. I am the only regular coffee drinker in my house, and I drink a 12oz french press in the morning and a double espresso in the evening. The Fresh Roast plus 8 easily handles roasting for this volume of coffee. I roast about 3 times a week, and each roasting takes about 10-15 minutes including set up and clean up. Initially I started roasting in my garage due to conerns about smoke. Smoke hasn't been an issue, but I still roast in the garage to help keep the entire house from smelling like roasting coffee.
Cates Green Coffee is a great place to buy from. Their customer service is top notch, and they helped me to find the right roaster for me, talking me down from a more expensive model.
Three Month Followup
I'm still having good roasting success using the Fresh Roast. Since my original review was posted, I have added a thermometer to keep track of the roast temperatures and to help me slow down the machine a little. While I thought the original roasts were terrific, I think the roasts done using the thermometer to hold the temperature steady and slow down the roast are better. Perhaps someday I'll do some split wiring modifications, but for now I'm still working on improving my roasting. I still strongly recommend this machine.