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FreshRoast SR500 Automatic Coffee Bean Roaster
|Price:||$179.00 & FREE Shipping|
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- Quietest air roaster; Great visibility; Very simple to use; Chaff collection; Durable; Small footprint; cooling cycle
- Manual stirring or a high fan setting are required for even roasts; Some coasting as beans cool in the roast chamber
- 4 oz (90 grams) yielding about 3.5 oz (78 grams) of roasted coffee
- Volts/Watts 110v / 1500w
- Heating Source electric element
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The Fresh Roast SR500 is easy to use for the novice and fully adjustable for experienced roasters. The SR500 roasts any kind of coffee, including espresso. In addition to the features above, you are also able to adjust the temperature and time without interrupting the roasting cycle. (FOR HOUSEHOLD USE ONLY)
Top customer reviews
1. When you start the roaster, the default timer setting is six minutes--this is never enough time for a darker roast. To increase the roast time, you must press the 'up' button. Each press of the button increases the timer by six seconds. To set the roaster to the maximum of 9 minutes and 54 seconds, you must press the button a surprising 39 times. This is what I do every time I roast. It's a real hassle. Depending on your temperature setting (low, medium or high), you may need to add more time after this.
2. When you put in the green coffee beans, they are small and dense, with a relatively high water content. At this stage, the fan that is supposed to circulate the beans is too weak to properly rotate them. So you must agitate them manually, somehow, to avoid an uneven roast. I found the best way to do this is to pick up the entire machine with one hand below, and hold the top on with the other hand, and shake and/or lean the machine. However, the whole assembly is unwieldy to hold in this way. The chaff catcher is top-heavy and can easily fall off, along with the glass roasting chamber. Somehow, I avoided this accident for 19 months, but I recently dropped the assembly, smashing the glass chamber to smithereens. Luckily I found a replacement on Amazon.
3. One Youtube video recommended stirring the beans during the early part of the roast with a wooden spoon handle to agitate the beans. You must remove the chaff collector to do this. As a result, the chaff gets blown into your work area.
4. Therefore, I would say that the weak fan, incapable of circulating the heavy, green beans, is the greatest shortcoming of this roaster.
5. After the beans roast for a few minutes, they dry out, increase in size, decrease in density, and the fan can then circulate them properly without burning half the beans. This happens about 1 minute prior to first crack.
6. Near the end of the roast, I use the LED flashlight on my smart phone to ensure that the color of the roasted beans are exactly as I want them before stopping the roast (accounting for a bit more roasting during the cooling cycle). Consistent lighting is very important in my opinion, since sunlight, incandescent, florescent, and LED lights all contain different wavelengths.
7. The post-roast cooling process is rather slow. The beans will darken a bit more after it begins.
8. After the 3-minute cooling process, the chaff collector is still too hot to handle. I usually do two cooling cycles. After that, the chaff collector is still hot, but you can at least remove it.
9. Despite these problems, I learned to get excellent results with this machine after roasting several batches. However you cannot set-and-forget. The roasting process requires close monitoring.
10. Green coffees vary somewhat in their water content. I found that, after roasting, I was left with 3.2 ounces of roasted coffee. At that rate, I need to roast coffee approximately every 4 days. It ends up being a time sink. At some point I will purchase a larger roaster.
11. With a bit of practice, you can get excellent results with this machine, despite its limitations.
Then I remembered that there are small home roasters and found several on Amazon. Next step: answer the question "just how difficult is it to use one of these roasters?" For this I went to YouTube and saw several examples of people using this roaster and others. From these I got several useful tips and decided to buy this product.
First (for those who have never seen this product up close) let me describe it in more detail. If you are familiar with home roasters you can skip this section.
The actual controls are simple.
Three buttons on the bottom: Up arrow (increases the time by 0.1 minute per press) Down arrow (decreases the time by 0.1 minute per press) and Circle (toggle on or off).
Fan speed dial - clockwise to increase speed, counter clockwise to decrease speed
Temperature switch - C (cool), L (low), M (Medium) and H (High)
When you turn it on it defaults to 5.7 minutes and you can adjust from there.
The SR700 allows you to program the fan speed, temperature and time but requires a dedicated computer hooked up to the roaster and instead of spending the extra money I decided I could do the switching myself.
The beans expand as they are roasted so follow the directions in the manual and only put 4 measures of raw beans in the glass roasting device. I have only tried the "Costa Rica Decaf" beans and have settled on a plan that gives results that please my palate. The plan I have come up so far is:
1) Before turning the unit on, measure the beans into the roasting chamber, put the chamber on the roasting base, put the chaff catcher on top, set the temperature on L and set the fan speed as high as it will go. (I never change the fan speed) This low temperature is to avoid burning any beans. When the unit is first turned on the beans are very heavy and agitate very slowly - some get stuck for a while. They will remain that way until they dry out. So you want them to agitate as much as possible (High fan speed) and be heated as little as possible (L).
2) Turn the unit on and increase the time to 6.5 minutes.
3) When the time counts down to 5.0 minutes increase the temp to H. [For the beans I am roasting the 1.5 minutes has allowed the beans to lose enough moisture that they move relatively rapidly. I have been told that other beans may act differently.]
4) When the time counts down to 2.0 minutes decrease the temp to M. [When the temperature stays at H to the end, the beans got much darker and had a "burn-like" flavor - not pleasant to my taste. But if you want a more robust flavor you could make this switch later or not at all.]
5) When the time counts down to 0 the machine will automatically switch to C (cool), stay in that mode for 3 minutes and then turn off.
6) At that point you are told to pour the beans out of the unit and wait an hour. The wait seems unnecessary to me but if you like to follow directions, go ahead.
7) When you remove the chaff catcher (the gizmo at the top that catches the outer shells that are expelled when the beans "pop"), use two hot mitts unless your hands are used to handling very hot pots. Take the chaff catcher apart and empty the chaff.
At this point IMNSHO you need to use a burr grinder to ensure uniform pieces in the resulting coffee grounds.
I won't say that this is better than or even equal to the coffee I have purchased from The Roasting Plant, but it is way better than anything I can get in the local stores.
When it came time to buy a new one, I ordered the same model again, but while roasting my first batch, the unit actually caught on fire! I'm glad I was using it outdoors in a safe, open area.
I returned the unit to Amazon and reordered the same model, but this one could not bring a batch of beans to a satisfactorily dark state. Repeatedly adding to the time, after 16 minutes the beans were finally dark enough to grind and use, although they were not as dark as I like.
The good news: Although 30 days had passed, Amazon allowed me to return the unit for a full refund (yay, Amazon!). But this time, I'm ordering a different model.