$500 should buy a home roaster made with quality components. The Gene Cafe isn't. I am looking for a better roaster.
Positive Product Points
Does a nice job roasting. Great capacity for the home roaster. Easy to use. Good design for even roasting. I can replace the heater with my eyes closed now!
Negative Product Points
Temperature sensor failure. Repeated heater assembly failures. Unnecessarily difficult to clean the chaff collector and air filter. Expensive.
I bought my Gene Cafe shortly after it was introduced in North America. It was a replacement for my Dead iRoast, which was a replacement for my dead Precision Roast. The extra capacity of the Gene Cafe was certainly a deciding feature, although I felt the price was high. Over the past three years I have roasted three batches a week on average, and find that when it works, it works well. The beans are always evenly roasted and I don't have a problem getting the roast that I want, but I do feel there are issues with the build quality of my machine--maybe the price for being an early adopter.
In year one, the temperature sensor failed. The temperature would not go much beyond 400 and Tim replaced the part--no charge except for shipping one way to Utah. In year two (now out of warranty) the heater failed. Tim sent a replacement--$60. Four months later the heater failed again--another $60. In March of this year, I had to replace the heater again. And now I think the temperature sensor may be acting up--today I couldn't get the temperature beyond 437 and last week it would not go beyond 442. And I do keep the chaff collector clean, in fact I cleaned it today before roasting. One more point--it is necessary to take the chaff collector apart and clean it regularly. I also take off the metal screen inside and clean it. For something that has to be cleaned regularly, it should be easier to do--I mean, 10 screws!
The air filter on the bottom should also be easier to clean.
No problem purchasing from Sweet Marias, and they put me in touch with Tim at Fresh Roast when I had a problem.
Three Month Followup
No additional comments at this time. It is winter here, my roaster is at home, I am in the southern US to keep warm.
One Year Followup
It has been a year since I posted my review. There were a couple of comments but very few people read comments--I do. I believe it is necessary to take the standard chaff collector apart to clean it properly. That includes taking the inner screen off and using a stiff brush on it--I also soak the chaff collector parts in an Urnex solution. This was a tip from the Sweet Maria's website, and I believe it does help the temperature sensor do its job.
On a positive note...no heating element or temperature sensor failures.