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Showing 1-10 of 232 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 293 reviews
on December 14, 2013
I have used the FreshRoast SR500 for 19 months. After a short learning curve, the results are excellent. However there are numerous issues. Here are my thoughts:

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.

Enjoy!
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on April 23, 2015
I really want to love this roaster. This is my second fresh roast . I had a Fresh roast 8 and used it for five years and it made wonderful coffee. So when it finally died I didn't hesitate to get another fresh roast . This one roasts twice as much coffee, it has adjustable controls, 3 fan speeds, three heat settings , and built-in cooldown . Sounded fantastic on paper, got lots of good reviews. And it does roast fantastic coffee . When it works. Unfortunately this is my third one under warranty, which expires next month. The vendor does stand behind it and they have taken care of it with no argument and relatively quickly. So I would recommend getting an extended warranty if you can.
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on March 20, 2017
I love this thing. I took one star off because it really is top heavy. If you have a place where you can set it & use it without moving it, DO it! I don't, so I have to move it under my kitchen fan every time I use it. I was very, very careful when moving it, but bumped it once while coiling the cord, & the glass roasting chamber went crashing to the ground. I bought 2 replacement chambers, because I'll probably break another. It's too bad the manufacturer didn't put some kind of locking clamp to keep it all together when moving it. As for being "Automatic", I guess if you use the same type of coffee bean, & the ambient temperature is always the same, sure. I prefer to buy sample packs from Sweet Maria's, cause I get to try all kinds of different coffees & roasts. So far, I always roast on Hi, & control the roast with the timer & fan, probably because I started roasting with the old Melitta Aromaroast. I start with the fan on high, & as the beans give off water & get lighter, I keep turning the fan down to just above where the beans stop agitating properly. Then when it gets to the cool down cycle, I turn the fan back all the way up. I'm enjoying roasting so much, that now I wish they had a model with more capacity.
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on January 11, 2014
I LOVE my SR500, I am getting absolutely spoiled by always having freshly roasted coffee at home!

I find that SR500 works fine the way it is, but it has one big drawback - you either have to roast outside, or your smoke alarm will go off every time you roast coffee.

Here's the easiest solution I found to the issue: go to hardware store and buy yourself a 6" aluminum air duct (I think 4" would work too, but I didn't test it). Then take the very top cover of SR500 off, put air duct on top and stick the other side of it out of the window. That's it! Now you can roast inside and not have any issues with smoke. Side effect of this modification is that the airflow inside SR500 increases, so you can now roast more coffee per batch (I found that 2/3 of a cup work best) without sacrificing evenness of the roast. The drawback of the method is that there will be some chaff falling from the air duct as you lift it from the roaster - put something under it to collect it.

In case you are looking for some place to start roasting, here's how I view the roasting process:

First phase of roasting: get some water out and lighten the beans, so that they move around better for better roasting. It usually takes about 3-4 minutes at low heat and max air flow.
Second phase: get to first crack. That takes about 4 minutes with heat on medium and fan speed at about 2/5 (just a bit below half). You can stop here if you choose.
Third phase: 2nd crack and further roasting. I am not a fan of the darkest roasts, so I don't do more than 2 minutes of this phase. You can do it longer, but be careful not to burn the beans. This phase is done on the high heat and about 1/4 of fan speed.

Here are the 2 roasts that I start with when trying new beans, and then modifying the roasts to my taste (if you are not using a duct modification, you may need to prolong phase 1 and use higher fan speeds for phase 2). I am using about 2/3 of a cup of beans per batch.

Lighter roast (1 crack) - start on low heat, full speed fan, set time to 8. As the time reaches 4.5 - adjust heat to medium and fan to 2/5 speed. Let the roasting finish. You should expect to hear the 1st crack at around 2 minutes. There will be no 2nd crack.

Darker roast (2 cracks) - start on low heat, full speed fan, set time to 9.5. As the time reaches 6 - adjust heat to medium and fan to 2/5 speed. First crack should start at 3.5 minutes. At 2 minutes, set the heat to high and drop the fan down to 1/4 speed. The 2nd crack will start at about 1 min.
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on February 25, 2016
So far so good . . .

This is a reasonably well made product that allows for decent, albeit imperfect, roasting. Here are some pluses and minuses based on one month's use.

POSITIVE
+ Comparatively low price
+ Adjustable time, including adding tenths of a minute as you see that you will need more time
+ Adjustable heat
+ Clear view of bean color during the roasting process
+ With practice, you can achieve some excellent roasts (but you will not achieve 100% uniformity)
+ Automatic cooling function

NEGATIVE
- Medium and high temps roast beans more quickly than some experts recommend
- With my beans (Costco premiums), the "Low" temp is the only useful one
- At "Low" my roast is still over in 7.2 minutes; some prefer longer roasts for specific beans and tastes
- Needs one temp below "Low"
- Lacks the air pressure to float green beans around the edges of the barrel; some beans will burn on the bottom before floating process begins
- A workaround (as others have mentioned) is to shake the container often during the first few minutes of roasting; this is awkward and a bit dangerous but must be done

Some of these negatives may not apply with smaller, lighter beans.
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on August 17, 2016
I have now had this roaster for a few weeks, and so far it has met my expectations. It is solidly built, doesn't have a "cheap" feel to it, and functions as advertised. My perspective: I have been roasting coffee for years in a couple of old popcorn poppers--this is definitely a step up from that. I can load up the roaster, set the timer, and, other than a tweak of the fan speed midway through the cycle (as beans get lighter), the roaster does its job and produces a very credible batch of fresh roasted coffee.
A couple of notes about operation:
1. If you like your coffee roasted dark, you will need to ignore the factory time setting and go for about 10 minutes at high heat.
2. Even though the roaster is designed to be used inside, I would not use it indoors without a vent hood. While the smell of roasting coffee is nice for a while, it lingers and gets stale. I use mine in the garage with the door open. Of course, see #1; I roast my coffee darker than most people.
3. About 5 batches is enough to last a week around our house. This takes about an hour each weekend, so its not a great time sink, especially since the roaster operates pretty much automatically once you set the timer and fan speed.
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on March 24, 2017
This product TOTALLY changed my coffee consumption. I had no idea how much better tasting and healthier fresh roasted coffee was. There is one drawback however. When I am on a trip and have to drink 'hotel coffee', 'restaurant coffee', or even believe it or not, professional espresso, I always find my self dissatisfied with the brew. I use to love espresso. I thought it was the ultimate coffee form but that is far from the case. With this I have fresh roasted beans every day I am at home that refresh my body rather than dehydrate it. I will never go back to the store bought coffee again. THANK YOU for making this product available to the average person.
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on November 3, 2016
This $180 roaster is performing well, and, after a little trial and error, mostly trial, I'm getting some tasty cups. It roasts a full batch in about five minutes, about the same amount of time and trouble as my $8 popcorn popper. And that's on low heat--not medium or high--and full fan speed. Ideally, I'd like an 8 or 9 minute roast, but to do that, I have to cycle the low heat on and off every 20 seconds for the first three minutes. It is as much work as the popcorn popper. But, the coffee is tasting really good, especially on the third day after roasting.
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on April 2, 2017
I have been using my FreshRoast SR500 for two months now. I truly love it. It is easy to use and easy to change settings to get exactly the roast you want. Once you figure out the settings that you prefer, you really can just start the roasting process and walk away to do other things while it finishes.

The glass canister and the top are breakable, so be cautious to not knock them over. When it is done roasting, it is quite hot and you will need to use a potholder unless you leave it for awhile to cool off. I researched this roaster and saw that if you do too many batches together it will overheat and burn out the motor, so I am careful to give it a good cooling period between roasts and have not had any problems with that.

It is also very easy to clean.
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on July 14, 2015
Good for small batches, but roasting quality is fairly inconsistent without implementing some "tricks" the manufacturer may not recommend. This is also top heavy, and the glass container is easy to knock off. We broke ours in the first month - but the replacement part was cheap. We still like it and use it occasionally.
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