Roasts decent-sized, even batches at the noise level of a jet plane taking off -- but with suspect product reliability.
Positive Product Points
- This machine does batches that are 2-3 times bigger than the FreshRoast, so you don’t need to roast as often.
- It roasts very, very consistently. All the beans will appear to have been roasted to the same degree. So say goodbye to burnt beans. (Or, at least, if you burn them they’ll all be burnt.)
- The chaff collector and cooling cycle is quite effective. There is no need to pour the beans into a colander to get rid of excess chaff, and when you take the top off no chaff gets spewed back into the beans.
- You have much greater control over the roast: you can custom-program roast cycles, program them into memory, etc. (Truthfully, I have never used these features. It wasn’t a big sell for me, but it doesn’t hurt to have them.)
- There is an attachment so you can attach a dryer exhaust hose and vent it directly out your stove hood.
- Everything “clicks” together on this machine quite solidly so nothing will fall off on you.
Negative Product Points
- Is that an airplane taking off!? You have to pay much closer attention in order to hear the cracks. And you will definitely wake anyone still sleeping with those early-morning roasts. (I guess this is a pro for those of us who like a passive-aggressive method of getting sleeping spouses out of bed in the morning.)
- It takes upwards of 20 minutes to complete a roast. You definitely want to be roasting beans before you need them—especially if they’re for your morning cuppa.
- Reliability may be suspect: the first one I bought didn’t work right out of the box. I brought it home, and it started smoking. In a bad, electrical-smell kind of way. I had to bring it back for an exchange. This replacement worked for nearly four years before dying.
I decided to upgrade my FreshRoast after several months of dutiful use for a few reasons: The first is that it does bigger batches. The second is that is roasts more consistently. It also has a lot of other features, but these are the two most important to me. I would recommend this roaster if you want to roast beans only once or twice a week and want a bit more control and consistency in your roasting. In Canada, your best bet is the Green Beanery for purchasing one.
At nearly four years old my iRoast 2 went to that big coffee-roastery in the sky. I had it running one afternoon and it never made it to first crack. It was getting warmish, but pushing the "temperature" button showed it at a mere ~160F which is about half the temperature needed for roasting. I imagine that one of the heating coils failed. I'm a bit disappointed since I was hoping it would last longer but it gave me the opportunity to upgrade to the Gene Cafe roaster.
- If you’re going to buy some dryer exhaust hose for that nifty attachment, for God’s sake don’t use a plastic one! This was learned through (in restrospect) quite an amusing experience for me: I decided to exhaust it directly to my oven hood vent using the special attachment using some plastic dryer exhaust hose purchased from the local Home Hardware. Shortly into the roast the hose started expanding steadily as the heat increased – so soon the hose length that I had thought to be “just about perfect” kept getting longer, and longer, until I had to scoop it all up so it didn’t snake it’s way across the counter. Then it started to melt. So, in summary: use the metal kind. Apparently this thing puts out a lot more heat than a clothes dryer!
- Yes, the digital controls offer a lot more precision. But don’t leave it unattended. Ever. I started doing something else in the kitchen for a few minutes and before I knew it the beans were well on their way to a dark, oily, and incredibly smoky (hey, there goes the fire alarm) roast. Once again: voltage plays a big factor on how fast or slow these things roast. If you want to be able to really control your roasts, invest in a voltage regulator. (I haven’t. I just make sure to keep a close eye and ear on the darn beans as they roast.)
All the benefits of “non-profit” with the customer service you might expect from an organization not striving solely for profit: I had cause for some disappointment when my newly-purchased iRoast didn’t work, right out of the box. Rather than replace the whole machine, they insisted on replacing just the base. (When it didn’t work, I naturally repacked it all up and brought it to work the next morning before they gave this “bring the base only” instruction. So when I showed up after work they went to work unpacking it all just to swap the base. Plus if I had been a few minutes later than 5:45pm – they officially close at 6:00pm – I probably would have made the 45 minute trek from my workplace for nothing as they were already on their way out. This exchange was all done without much ado – but frankly if something is broken when you bought it, and you have to make another trip out (it does indeed cost time and money to go back – I’m just glad I didn’t buy it by mail) one might expect some kind of token such as a free sample of beans. Having run an online business for a long time I know that this kind of gesture goes a long way to a harried customer who has experienced such an inconvenience with a newly purchased item.