An excellent way to introduce yourself to coffee roasting.
Positive Product Points
An excellent entry level roaster. Produces an excellent roast in a small amount of time. Very easy to use, which allows the beginner to concentrate on learning to roast, rather than learning to use the equipment. Quiet enough to allow you to clearly hear the cracks. Chaff collector is simple yet effective.
Negative Product Points
It has a relatively small roasting chamber. Because of the design of the chaff collector, its a bit top heavy. Timer needs to be about 3 minutes longer.
The FreshRoast Plus (FR+) is great for people interested in learning to roast coffee. Its simple design allows you to concentrate on the cracks and on learning to roast by smell, rather than relying on some fixed roasting profile.
Using the roaster is simple. Fill the roast chamber with a couple of scoops (using the provided scoop) of green beans, turn the timer dial to five minutes, and listen. Because the timer is the only control on the FR+, you have to pay close attention and control your roast manually.
The timer allows for a 5 minute roast, plus a 2 minute cool down cycle. Depending on the ambient conditions, the five minutes may not be enough to complete the roast. Fortunately, the roast time can be extended by turning the dial back a couple of minutes.
The chaff collector is simple, but effective. Chaff is blown up the roast chamber and into the screened collection chamber. I've found that this works well, but can cause problems with beans which have a lot of chaff. A bean with a lot of chaff can cause some air flow problems. This doesn't cause major problems, but does speed the roast up somewhat.
The quality of the unit is good. I was a bit hesitant when I heard about the timer. My experience has been that these types of timers tend to be flimsy. All doubts were gone the first time i turned it. This is a heavy-duty, quality timer that just feels like it will outlast the rest of the unit.
The glass roasting chamber is the only problem, and only because I'm clumsy. I've broken one already through carelessness. The chaff collector rests on top of it, and makes the unit a bit top heavy. A careless bump will send the whole thing crashing to the floor. Fortunately, the people at Fresh Beans are terrific and responsive. The original chamber that I received had come unglued after the first use (this is understandable, hot glass expands/contracts and stresses glued parts.) Anyway, I called the manufacturer and had a new chamber in 2 days. I've been using the unglued chamber ever since I shattered my replacement.
One last note about this roaster. Because of the fast roast times, I've found that it tends to work best for bright, acidy coffees, rather than heavier, full bodied coffees. I think that a drum roaster probably gives a better roast and body development due to the longer roast times.
Incredible. Sweet Maria's is always a pleasure. Orders are shipped quickly, and the web site provides all of the information you need to get the most out of this roaster. The $72 dollar price included a sampler pack of eight, 1/2 pound coffees. Highly recommended. As mentioned above, warranty repairs are handled directly by the manufacturer (Fresh Beans), and working with them was also a pleasure. Always great to find a company that honors warranties with grace.