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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 SR 500 coffee roaster is a larger version of the Plus 8. It will roast twice the capacity of the Plus 8 (4 scoops, 120 gm) with a digital time display. The maximum time to set the control is 9.9 minutes however with the great added features at any point during the roast sequence you can add 6 seconds every time you tap the button. Time can also be subtracted using the same method. The timer can be overridden by tapping the Cool button, the roaster will go into the Cool mode for 3 minutes. The Fresh Roast SR 500 coffee roaster has the same capacity (4 scoops, 120 gm) and features of the SR 300 - plus three temperature settings that can be adjusted any time during the roasting process: High temp. = 490 degrees Medium temp. = 455 degrees Low temp. = 390 degrees A Fan Speed Control has been added to the SR 500 that allows the finest tuning of the roast. The Fan Speed Control allows adjustments of + or - 10%. Starting the roast, the beans are at their heaviest, the fan speed can be turned up to keep the beans fluid and give an even roast. As the beans become lighter, the fan speed can be turned down and keep the beans from chipping. Instructions are clear and simple with these models and allows complete control to the user without trying to figure out the programming. New to these models are the control panels which face up instead of having to squat down to view the settings and roasting process. As with the Plus 8 model, the chaff collector sits on top making access to remove chaff trouble-free. And true to tradition, viewing of the coffee as it is roasting is part of the fun with complete view ability. Clean up with this model is easy. Both models are great values for the price. Their simple design & operation makes them a great choice for both beginners and those looking for simplicity. Size wise the units are similar to the Plus 8 model measuring approximately 12" tall by 7" wide. Never leave a roaster unattended when roasting coffee.
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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.
Excellent chaff collecrion and large roast chamber. This unit will roast almost 2x the coffee of the earlier models.
This air roaster has many things going for it. It is relatively inexpensive, it can roast enough beans for a 2 to 3 day supply (at my consumption levels), and it makes roasting brain dead simple. Simply put in 4 scoops of beans, set the heat to medium, flip the dial to about the halfway point, and hit the start button. In 5.9 minutes your roast is done, and in 2 more minutes the cooling cycle is done.
It is easy to see the beans change color, and despite the noise from the fan it is easy to hear the beans crack. You can add more time to the roast just by hitting a button.
I used it about a dozen of times with no problems.
The only bad thing is that the top cap can fall off very easily and the roasting chamber, as well as the top cap, are extremely fragile. Both feel off only once, while handling them, and ended up irreparably broken.
Just one single fall on the ceramic floor.
I think that these removable parts, since they are what they are e.g. "removable", should be built in a sturdier material.
$160 of purchase are now sitting in a closet without any possibility to re-use them.
Having said all of this, I think the SR 500 does work better because I'm able to stretch out the roast to 6-8 minutes where I was only roasting for 4-5 minutes with the popcorn popper. The true test is the flavor of the coffee and the SR 500 beans produce a better tasting cup, so I'm giving it 4 stars. I would definitely give it 5 stars if not for the inconsistency.