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on January 7, 2011
RARE SIDE VENTS POPPER! I've looked for a year for one of these. If you want to learn how to roast green coffee beans in an air popcorn popper, there are a number of websites that will explain it to you - including a good article using this very popper at coffee geek dot com. The Toastess air popper has side vents at the bottom of the funnel that blow hot air (as opposed to a bottom vent) and side vents are recommended for roasting coffee. Unfortunately for the popcorn poppers out there, I'm guessing the side vents reduce the amount of popcorn kernels that pop; however, it's perfect for coffee. BEWARE, however, if you roast coffee in this - it is dangerous (fire hazard) to roast coffee in a popcorn popper (you must stay with the popper at all times), you will void any warranty on the machine if you roast coffee, you will burn out the motor fairly quickly (or so warn the websites), and at about 3:30 to 4 minutes the plastic funnel covering the apparatus begins to warp and melt. So far I've roasted several batches (80 grams each) of green Sumatra Mandheling beans without problems (other than the melting lid), and it was delicious and fun to do.

If you've never roasted coffee before in an air popper, please don't start until you've reviewed competent directions at a coffee website. It's fun, but can be dangerous. Also, roast outside (I used our screen porch) to avoid the burning/roasting smell and chaf in the house. Lastly, I found this exact popper about four dllars cheaper at a brick and mortar overstock store.
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on December 7, 2009
Awful, awful machine. First machine died and thought it might be that particular popper, but second popper was just as bad. Wastes popcorn kernals. More unpopped kernals than popped ones. Takes three batches to get medium sized bowl of popcorn. Dies within a couple of months. Horrible machine.
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on January 3, 2010
Yes, this is a terrible popper. One wonders why or how they managed to release a product without testing it. Far too many unpopped kernels... kernels take three runs through the popper to pop, as most are ejected when the corn starts to pop. An exercise in patience.
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on March 17, 2011
Never tried it for popcorn. Only used for roasting coffee. This unit has the preferred hot air vents. My previous popper was a Presto Poplite which blows the air from the bottom.

I've bought two Toastess so far. Destroyed the first one by trying to hot rod it. My fault entirely. Number Two works better, but I had to hot wire the thermal switch so it would get hot enough. Almost all poppers have two kinds of thermal safety devices: fuses and switches. Fuses prevent fires and once they blow, that's it. You're popper is a paperweight for all intents and purposes. Switches temporarily cut power to the heating elements when they're tripped. Unfortunately, manufacturing tolerances for switches aren't that tight, so you can have one unit roast coffee just fine and another will not get hot enough. The switch in this one is fairly easy to disable -- if you can get to it. They use funky screws with triangular heads to hold the thing together. So I made my own tool by grinding down a small triangular file until I could jam it into the head and loosen the screws.

Have roasted 6 batches in Number Two so far and will probably roast another six batches in the next day or two.

Only four stars because the clear plastic lid cannot take the heat. It can warp substantially. I wouldn't be surprised if the plastic lid will eventually be useless. Then I'll probably have to use a soup can chimney or something else.
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on February 20, 2010
Horrible machine! Leaves unpopped kernels, and shoots "almost" popped kernels out so then they pop when they hit the bowl or the floor...or your hair.. etc.
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on February 27, 2012
I bought this popcorn maker as a alternate for a coffee bean roaster. Saw this on a coffee bean forum, bought the exact one as recommended. This popcorn maker works well.

The only dry drawback is that due to the high heat this thing puts out, after a couple of uses the top cover starts to deform. I use a metal "one cup" measuring cup and put it over the opening, this way it keep the top from melting and it retains the heat in the popcorn maker better and actually increases the tempeture, as needed for a truly dark roast bean.

I actually enjoy the smell of roasted beans over popcorn popping anyday. Oh! Im sure this thing works well as a popcorn maker as well.
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on July 24, 2011
I bought it to roast coffee, but it also pops corn quite well. As a roaster, it's a bit slow, and could not reach second crack without disabling the thermal switch. I had to finish the first roast in a pan on the stove.

My opinion is you would be happier with a (much more costly) real roaster, but if you're determined, this popper can be made to work with a simple modification. You'll need a triangle head screwdriver to open the case. Reassembly is difficult without the assembly jigs they almost certainly used in the factory. Two blind self tapping screws have to align with plastic legs in the bottom of the unit. It can be done. Don't give up! The enclosed bottom is important for safety. The unit has bare wires inside carrying line current driving the motor and heating coils. You'll also have to destroy and replace the power cord's case grommet. Almost for sure, you shouldn't consider doing this if children or unaware adults will be using it.

If that doesn't deter you, the modification needed is to disable the bi-metal thermal switch with a solder blob under its contact arm. With that done and the unit reassembled, first crack is done at 4 minutes. Second crack starts at about 12 minutes, and reaches a dark city roast between 16 and 18 minutes.

The capacity is small. Put in enough bean so the center initially has some movement. As the roast progresses, the beans get lighter and hop on the hot air fluid bed. The chimney is almost tall enough to contain the escapees for this size load.

Save the plastic lid for popcorn. The heat from roasting beans will soften and distort it. I leave it uncovered until after first crack, to allow the chaff to escape. Cover it afterward with a stainless mesh kitchen strainer. Most of what escapes the strainer lid are fully roasted. Toss them back in if you want darker. I just take those few as they are.

I roast in the garage to keep the smoke and chaff out of the house.
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on August 27, 2011
Good for popcorn, but not so good for coffee bean roasting. Clear plastic cover melts some with each roast. Was able to squish it back in place as it cooled, but by the 10th or 12th roast it was apparent that it would not last much longer-- went to a real bean roaster. BIG difference!
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on August 9, 2011
As others stated this popper is quite possibly the worst appliance I've ever owned. It may be nice as a coffee roaster but it certainly doesn't pop popcorn and what it does emit is extremely dangerous.

In my first use, using the scooper top as a measuring device I got at least 75% back as scalding-hot flying-projectile unpopped kernals. We literally ran from the kitchen. The scoop itself is small but I thought maybe it was too much corn added in a single go so I tried again with half the amount.

In the second try the corn spun and spun and spun, popping a few kernals, again peppering my counter and floor with the remaining searing hot unpopped kernals.

This machine is going back after 20 minutes out of the box. Hopefully my review saves others time, not only in the purchasing/shipping process but also time spent cleaning up a crazy mess and tending to their burns!

PROS:
Nice looking unit, sleek
Compact in size

CONS:
Uneven air flow
60-85% unpopped kernals
Spits kernals everywhere
Takes 5 times as long as my current popper
Top gets extremely hot, much hotter than any unit I've owned before
Smells like burning plastic

NOTE:
Another reviewer commented on the possibility that we're using the wrong kind of popcorn.. I can tell you that I've used the same Orville Redenbacher's Original Popcorn brand for years in a few different poppers and I've never had this problem, especially when it comes to unpopped kernals. Unless you plan to buy the reviewers brand, don't count on better results than what others have posted.
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on March 1, 2011
This works great for roasting coffee. It has the necessary side vents one is looking for. I am very glad I had purchased it here.
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