Looks good on the counter, smokeless operation delivers but needs to be a little quiker and a lot quieter.
Positive Product Points
Aesthetically nice looking design, auger agitates the beans very well. Smokeless operation is wonderful.
Negative Product Points
Too much plastic, very loud, could be a bit hotter and cooling seems useless.
I got this unit for Christmas and in general am very pleased with it. At the suggestion of others here, I run for a minute prior to roasting to warm up the unit which cuts down on the roast time. Right now I'm roasting a little more than double what I was doing with my air popper with the added bonus of being able to run it indoors for the winter.
What I don't like is how loud it is. I belive a great deal of the noise is the auger rattling around and grating on the steel bottom of the chamber. That combined with the motor and fan noise, it's nearly impossible to hear 1st crack, let alone not have a headache waiting around for it to happen with the noise. I also wish the main lid was a little more secure feeling. The overall construction uses a bit too much plastic for my taste. Cleaning the roast chamber is also a little tough with the auger, but I'm also too lazy to keep pulling the chamber completely apart after each roast.
A roast is roughly 14 minutes for a City to City+ not including cooling. I'll warm the unit, fill it, start it back up and then walk away (but not out of the area) for at least 5 minutes so I don't have to listen to it. After that I'll watch from a ways back and when 1st crack is coming I'll get closer. Only the loudest pops can be heard and there's only a few of those usually. The cooling fan needs to be much heftier. Right now I'm just using it to blow off a little extra chaff, then I dump it out into a pair of bowls and toss the beans back and forth. The chaff collector works great but there isn't enough airflow to get it all up there so there's a considerable amount still mixed with the beans. Static in the bowls as I toss them helps get rid of a large portion after that.
If the darn thing wasn't so loud, I would absolutely love it. I have a smoke alarm right next to the kitchen and if anything in the oven smokes at all, as soon as I open it, the alarm goes off. After three roasts I haven't set it off yet and haven't noticed anything other than the roasting odor. Secondary changes to it need to be a slightly hotter heating element and a better cooling blower.
I'm still learning its use and have also been using different brewing methods so I don't feel confident yet to comment on roast quality. Compared to a popper it's a nice even looking roast. I'll have a few taste notes for the follow up.
Christmas gift so I can't comment, but I've dealt with Maria's before and they are top notch.
Three Month Followup
I'm using the roaster on average once a week. I still find it loud and the cooling cycle could do better but it does help pull more chaff out of the roast so I cut the roast a hair short and let it coast up to its destination during the cooling. Even though the seal on the chamber looks good, it manages to spit some fine chaff onto the counter.
Preheating the chamber for a minute does wonders. If you let it get to 2nd crack, the 'smokeless' still manages to set off my smoke alarm ;)
I'm still pretty happy with it although I do a popper roast every now and then and there is a brighter taste to the popper where the Z&D is more muted.