This machine can do an accurate roast profile; I hope it holds up for a long time.
Positive Product Points
Capable of roasting to a very reproducible end point. Looks impressive as it operates. Easy to clean. Chaff collector works well.
Negative Product Points
Slow learning curve for operations. Instructions not really detailed enough.
I purchased the I-Roast 1 after they were clearing them at several online dealers. The first one I received was defective and only ran at one speed when programmed. The built-in programs always got too hot making it difficult to stop the roast before the beans burned. When I called and explained what happened, the agent told me they would send a replacement roasting pot and a return label with prepaid postage. The replacement seemed to be defective too because it didn't go into 3 fan speeds after the first few batches. When I called the agent laughed and said I just didn't understand how the I-Roast works, but if I would experiment with temperatures and times it would become clear. That actually happened and I found out that there is some logic in fan speeds used and it isn't just fast, meduim, slow as I expected. Fan speed depends on the temperatures you program. Thus, if you set a higher temperature for stage 2 and it is enough higher, them the fan speed will slow and the temperature will go up. If the difference is too little then the speed stays the same. If the temperature for stage 3 is set lower than stage 2 the fan will actually speed up again. Once I got all this straight I have been able to get exactly the color of beans I favor (dark brown but only an occasional oily bean). The coffee has been very good. I am tasting the differences in the beans from different countries. I will say this was difficult and required patience. So far I have not had any problems with loose lids that others have spoken of. Maybe at the end of production of the I-Roast 1 they had corrected the problems.
I found 1st-Line equipment using a Google search for the roaster I wanted. Delivery was prompt and all was as described at their site (www.1st-line.com) .
Three Month Followup
After 3 months of steady use, my I-Roast I is roasting every 3 or 4 days without any problems. The batch is 1 cup of green beans and lasts my wife and I about 3 days. Others have mentioned problems with the fit of the chaf collector lid but mine is still fitting snug. I do notice that the temperature in the garage where i do the roasting, affects the roast temperatures greatly. I have to adjust my timing to compensate for this. When I turned on my small electric heater in the garage to keep the temperature above freezing, I had to cut the stage 3 time to 52 seconds instead of 3 minutes. With care I think the unit will last a lot longer. I am able to taste the difference between green beans from different countries of origen. I am very careful never to try to roast more than 1 batch without a complete cooling of the heater/fan unit and cleaning and washing of the chaf collector and upper roaster. I think the seals are rubber and they need to cool to prevent damage. Also, I never plug the unit in until I have the beans added and it is fully assembled. I believe the I-Roast works as well as any hot air roaster..
One Year Followup
It still works like new!
The catch on the chaf trapper lid quit working. I use a strip of scotch tape to keep it from twisting.
I learned a lot about settings. My records allow for a starting point for a new batch. Each batch is a little different. Major differences in coffees from different areas.
I prefer beans that are starting to get a little sheen to tasting all the nuances of lighter roasts.
I always cool the unit down before roasting a second batch.
I use the attachment gadget to put a dryer duct on it and roast indoors, venting to my stove vent.
the ambient temperature effects the settings. Roasting in a cold garage I couldn't get enough heat to properly roast.
I always use a 4 minute warm up at 365; a roast at 450 and vary the time from 2 to 4 minutes as needed; a slower final roast for 2 to 3 minutes at either 380 or 390.