Having roasted my own beans, I will never go back to store bought roasted coffee beans
Positive Product Points
very easy to use, almost idiot proof 1 yr warranty one can easily taste the differences among different roasted coffee beans
Negative Product Points
cost very poor instruction manual probably have to roast at least 2X/week for max freshness, if not 3X can only roast about 3 oz of beans per batch reports of faulty units
In ten days, I have made 14 batches of beans.
The HWP cost $111 from Sweet Maria's in Columbus, Ohio. This is the first time that I have ever roasted coffee beans so that there is nothing to compare this against. Up front, this just beats the stuffing out of going out and buying someone else's roasted beans because what I can do, and I am a strict amateur when it comes to roasting, is so much better than the beans that I get out of a coffee bean shop and that would include Peet's and Starbucks. Green beans will cost significantly less than roasted beans and the green beans will have a shelf life that is measured in years, rather than week(s), if lucky, for roasted beans.
So why should someone buy an HWP? It is an automated process that is controlled by some kind of chip. The dial is not just a linear timer. Supposedly, the chip is suppose to control the roasting process determined by the Speciality Coffee Association of America (SCAA). This is termed a profile and there could be times in which one might wish to purposely deviate from that curve. In other words, the profile may not be the same for each and every green coffee bean. Still there is enough flexiblity to allow one to change the profile with the HWP by manually cycling between the roast and cooling cycle. There is a huge amount of flexibility here as to the degree of the roasts and this will require lots of experimentation, if one has the interest. One analogy that comes to mind comparing the HWP to a hot air popcorn maker is that the HWP is a lot less technique sensitive and a lot easier to use - sort of like comparing driving with and without power steering.
One reason that the HWP is so easy to use is that there is very little mess to clean up after the roasting is finished. Another reason is that you dump in the beans, assemble the unit, set the dial, and press the roast button. There is a built in chaff collector and it is very efficient. Middle range roasting at the 4.75 setting takes a total of about 12 minutes and that includes the cooling cycle. Once you get this unit, you will immediately become aware of the trade off's that the commercial roasters have to make when they decide upon the degree of roast. But you will be able to do it on your own and try all sorts of roasts for the same green bean. That one can only roast a max of 3 oz of beans per batch is both a blessing and a curse. Initially when roasting it restricts how much one can foul up in one batch and that's good. Depending upon how much one uses in making one's coffee, one will have to decide how often to roast. Then there is the unique problem of having to decide how long one can let the roasted beans sit around before they begin to show noticeable deterioration in the finished coffee product. And each bean will be different. Some beans actually improve after sitting around. In a sense, one must re-invent the wheel and find out for oneself what the differences are when one begins to manipulate the various parameters: how long to de-gas, how long the roasted beans can sit around, the degree of the roast, etc. This is an interest that can run the gamut from being very simple to do or being very complex. If I were Peet's, Starbucks or any other supplier of roasted beans, I would be very worried. Roasting one's own beans is something that any afficiando should seriously consider. It is so easy, but time consuming. I would recommend that anyone who wants to learn more go to: http: //www.sweetmarias.com/ and read through the site. There is a lot of information there and it is critical to understanding what one is getting into and how to do it.
The first HWP conked out at 365 roasts and was replaced under warranty, the second one is still going at 430+ roasts, especially after a rejuvenation of the bearings with some WD-40 oil. Will easily make it to 800+ roasts, but 1000? The HWP occupies a space between the Alpenrost and perhaps the Fresh Roaster. I prefer to use it via the manual route rather than relying on the timer. That way, there is greater flexibility because one can roast by sound, time into the various cracks, by color, by oil, or any combinations of the preceding.