Top positive review
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REVIEW FOR COFFEE ROASTERS ONLY
on June 19, 2015
I would actually rate this product 3-stars, however, I have reservations reviewing an item based on functionality that the manufacturer did not design it for. As such, I have given this product one more star than it deserves for my use, just to be fair. I'm sure this is a great popcorn popper, in other words, but I'm using it to roast coffee. For that it's just okay.
For you noob coffee roasters out there, like I was about this time last year, I would recommend going onto eBay and finding a West Bend Poppery (the original, not the II), which is an amazing 1500 Watt popper, that is perfect for roasting small batches (if you're willing to put up with a short learning curve). The Poppery has a stronger heating element and a stronger fan, making it much better for roasting coffee than the Air Crazy.
However, I didn't know or appreciate this before trying the Air Crazy. I can thank Sweet Maria's for that. They have a web page dedicated to this popper and how great it is. After using it I'm really not sure why they do that. But because it so cheap, and because I get such a kick out of air roasting popcorn at home, I decided to try it out.
Fortunately I read someone else's post about removing the heat sync cable on the side of the heating element, which tells the heater to turn off if it gets too hot (probably to avoid burning popcorn, or maybe stop this thing from exploding altogether!). I tried roasting one batch without doing that, just to see if it would work. It didn't. Ten minutes in and I still hadn't reached first crack, though my beans were starting to look very dark. I essentially slow-roasted the batch without ever getting it hot enough to crack. (I actually made a cup of coffee with it just to see how it would taste and it was horrible, I had to spit it out it was that bad.)
So you have to remove the heat sync (or whatever it is called) in order to get this hot enough to roast. And even then it doesn't really work well unless you keep the clear plastic top over it to trap in the heat. Problem with that is the fan isn't very strong, so you have to continually shake the whole unit to move the beans around (otherwise you'll get a very uneven roast). But you can't shake it and hold the clear top on because it is too hot to hold from the top. The solution is to adhere the plastic top to the unit (I used high heat foil-tape for this).
So once you've done the proper mod, fixed the plastic lid to the top (both pieces, but make sure the cup-shaped one is removable in order to get your beans in/out), you can successfully roast a batch of beans. The optimal volume (for me) is a heaping 1/3-cup, or about 70g of green beans. If anyone else has found success with more or less let me know with a comment.
I've only roasted about half a dozen batches successfully so far, so I can't attest to the longevity of the unit. I use it in conjunction with my Poppery (I roast one batch with the Poppery, then a second, smaller batch with the Air Crazy).
I would love to hear what experiences other people have had, or tips for improving the roast in addition to what I've mentioned here. Happy roasting!