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Yesterday was a red letter day. My fresh roast SR 500 coffee roaster was delivered.
In addition to that, I “roasted” my first batch of coffee beans using my brand-new popcorn Popper. That experienced turned into is a disaster. If you want to laugh, you can read about it here. The experience was so bad I was almost dreading what would happen with the SR 500.
After I put my Shop Vac away from cleaning up the explosive results of the popcorn roasting experiment, I decided to un-boxed my SR 500. Disaster almost immediately struck.
Well, okay…. I guess I should read the instructions before messing around with it. At first, I thought the instruction manual wasn’t in the box. I found these two pieces of paper stapled together and that was the manual. There was only absolute basic information in there. They really could’ve done a better job on the instruction manual.
Fortunately there is a lot of information available online and on you to for this coffee roaster because it is so popular.
Spoiler Alert: Put simply, I love this coffee roaster. It is exactly what I was looking for in terms of quality and function. Most importantly, it really DOES make my coffee coffee roasting a snap. It is one of the best and most popular coffee roasters on the market. Who says so? The buyers. It has one of the highest star ratings of any and you can read about it here.
Fresh Roast SR 500
Who Is This Hot Air Coffee Roaster Made For?
I think it might be fair to use myself as the ideal customer. I am looking to delve deeper into the hobby of coffee. My initial step was to buy myself a grinder in limit myself to whole bean coffee roasted by specialty shops.
I decided to get a little bit more serious and try roasting my own coffee. The SR 500 coffee roaster seems to be a first commitment for a home roaster who is looking to get a bit more serious or has become frustrated with less expensive ways to roast coffee.
In other words it is a step up from using a popcorn popper, heat gun, skillet, or wok. Those methods are sort of like first dates in the dating scene. Purchasing and SR 500 is a sign of commitment, now you’re going steady. There are steps up from this unit but they involve significantly more invested in sophistication. If you step up from the SR 500, it’s like getting married.
The SR 500 coffee roaster allows you to roast small batches of coffee very consistently at a controlled temperature and with control timing. You control both.
This makes experimentation very easy and a lot of fun. For instance, in my very first roast I decided to keep it very simple.
What Is Hot Air Coffee Roasting?
Before we go much further with our review and information about the SR 500 coffee roaster in particular, let’s take a look at the air roasting process.
Hot air roasting is more technically known as the fluid bed roasting process. The word fluid does not mean liquid it means flowing in this case. Hot air is blown into the beans creating a fluid environment.
It was originally developed by Michael Sivetz, an engineer in the coffee industry. He was primarily interested in producing the larger scale coffee roasters in the industry.
He took out patents for his idea in the late 70s but could generate little interest in the industry. The first machines utilizing his ideas he made it his own garage around 1980. He probably had no idea of the implications for home or micro roasters.
Air roasters do not produce the flavor in the coffee. The coffee beans provide the flavor. Air roasting is a process that can consistently unlock and reveal the flavor characteristics that are already in the bean without adding any artificial flavors or smokiness that other means of roasting can provide.
The ability to perfectly control the hot air flow in temperature roasts the beans evenly as it circulates through the batch.
Air roasting provides an opportunity to “dial in” the perfect flavor profile desired for specific bean. Since there is such great control over temperature and time exposure to the hot air, the process can be duplicated over and over again.
For a home roaster, the real fun and challenge is to dial in the flavor profile that most satisfies you.
My First Experience Using The Coffee Roaster
It was after dinner when I thought about roasting some coffee in my new machine, but was hesitant to take on a new learning curve because I was tired.
What got me going was remembering that coffee should “sit” for 6 to 12 hours after roasting before grinding. I wanted freshly roasted coffee in the morning.
So I decided to run a batch through but keep it very simple. I pretty much used factory settings. I had ordered 5 lbs of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Washed Grade 1 Coffee Beans on Amazon.
When roasted to a medium-dark level, it has a smooth medium body and long, lingering finish, Fragrant and floral with wine and fruit overtones. This is very different from Sumatra coffee I’m used to.
I measured the coffee, put it in, squinted my eyes expecting an explosion, and hit the roast button for the standard time of 5.9 minutes. I used a medium heat setting. I watched it like a hawk ready to interrupt any potential disaster. The darn thing worked flawlessly.
As the beans reached first crack, I wanted to monitor them closely. Even though the beans are in a glass cylinder, my kitchen lights were overhead. I happen to have an LED flashlight handy so grab that and shined it in so I could monitor the color the beans very, very closely.
The coffee was a little lighter tasting than I was used to and I couldn’t decide whether it was the different beans or the roast. So on my second batch I simply added a minute to the roasting time and got a richer brew.
In other words with small batches and being in complete control of time and temperature you can fiddle with the same beans and produce different tasting coffees. This is a lot of fun!
So let me sum it up:
- I measured the beans into the roaster.
- I hit the pre-set roast button.
- I watched the beans.
- I pressed the button for an extra cooling cycle.
- Removed the beans and stored them.
Easy, Peasy. The process is made so simple, and I was in complete control. Now I can have some fun.
Pros & Cons Of The Kitchen Supreme French Press Coffee Maker
There areover 300 actual buyer reviews on Amazon and more than 50 answered questions. To save you time in researching your buying decision, we pulled out important points.
Most people really liked the Sr 500 coffee bean roaster. It scored 4.0 out of 5 stars with 75% of the people giving it 4 or 5 stars.
Enough of me running my mouth, lets see what other actual buyers reported, liked and disliked.
- Not really loud – about as loud as a portable hand vacuum cleaner.
- Very simple to use & you can watch the beans.
- Chaff collector and smoke diffuser worked really well.
- The cooling cycle, when hot twice brings beans to room temperature..
- Sooooo fast and easy.
- “This is a great machine. I was worried about replacing my old Roaster but this has been a great purchase”
- “Awesome roaster. You can take any bean and roast it so many different ways and come up with a variety of flavors depending on your mood. I love it. I have become a coffee snob with this.”
- “I have used this unit twice a week for two years now and have had no issues. It provides a very consistent roast. “
- “The build quality of the FreshRoast SR500 is a huge improvement on our previous roaster which was in a much higher price bracket. “
- “I’ve been doing home roasts for the past seven years, and have had one of these since August, 2012. So far of the three machines I’ve tried, this is the best.”
- DANGER! Will tip over and fall apart if you carelessly pick it up. Be careful.It is top heavy.
- Small batches – 1 batch produced enough coffee for 2 pots of my 1 liter French Press.
- The machine gets really hot on top so the lid must be removed with an oven mitt to avoid burning your fingers.
- I would say that the weak fan, incapable of circulating the heavy, green beans, is the greatest shortcoming of this roaster. (That’s why we recommend smaller batches).
- After the 3-minute cooling process, the chaff collector is still too hot to handle. I usually do two cooling cycles
- “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. That is a hassle “
- “The whole machine should not fall apart when moved or tilted, and the full weight of the chafing basket should not rest on the hot chamber either I believe.”
- “I liked using this unit but disappointed in how long it lasted. I believe I roasted fewer than 40 batches before it died on me. I am not going to be pleased to pay $150 for such a short life product.
The single biggest complaint (and I share it0 is that the 3 major pieces just sit or nest on each other and get very hot to the touch. They are not locked in place, Most of the people said they knew this going in and thought they could be careful all the time. many were mad when they tipped it over and the chamber broke.
The Full Range Of Models
Here are the 3 Fresh Roast Models, all at different price points with different features. We have been talking about the SR 500. The SR 340 is a bit less expensive and the SR 700 more expensive.
Here are the major points:
SR 340 is a starter machine. it has 1 heat setting only – but you can control the fan
SR 500 is a step up. It has different controllable heat settings as well as fan. (features I thought important.)
SR 700 has a computer interface allowing you to operate the roaster from your Windows PC, allowing to you store replicate the exact roast profile in the future. For me. the significant price jump wasn’t worth it. A pad and a pen will also save roasting profiles.
Technical & Additional SR 500 Information
- Batch Size: Manufacturer claims 120 grams/roast or 4 of the included scoops. For best results you might want to try a bit less (100 grams)per roast.
- Controls: Variable fan speed adjustment dial. Heat settings slider clicks to: High, Medium & Low.
- Three temperature settings that can be adjusted any time during the roast, without interrupting roast cycle.
- High temp is 490 degrees.
- Medium 455 degrees.
- Low 390 degrees
- Time can be added during roast.
- Roast Time 4-9 minutes.
- Heating Source electric element.
- Dimensions 13″ x 7″ x 8.5″ (approx.).
- Volts/Watts 110v / 1500w.
- Weight about 5 lbs
At this point, it is very hard to be objective about the SR 500. I researched it, I bought it, used it and love it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not prideful. Just because I bought it doesn’t mean I would recommend it to everybody. I bought the popcorn Popper and wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. In fact, later today I’m going to Goodwill to donate my popcorn popper.
I would, however, recommend this roaster to anybody either wants to step up their game from using a popcorn popper to roast coffee beans at home or for someone who wants to skip the painful learning exercise and jump right into successful roasting at home.
I think it’s a great starting point for the hobby of coffee roasting at home. It might not be the be-all and end-all, because there are more steps up the ladder as your sophistication develops. You can be looking at larger machines to produce larger batches for home use. You might even want to try establishing yourself as a micro roaster and sell your beans that flea markets in green markets.
I’m not there yet. I think this machine will serve me well for a long time to come as I develop my interest in the hobby. I want to explore single source coffees and be able to compare them without muddying the waters of complicated roasting methods.
This roaster is dead simple to operate. You have complete control over temperature and time. You can duplicate your results.
To me that is the perfect recipe for the stage I’m at two service my passion for coffee.
Coffee Lover’s Accessories:
Here are some gift ideas to help make your coffee experiences richer. We selected these gifts based on practicality and usefulness any coffee lover would appreciate.
Zevro Indispensable Coffee Dispenser, Silver – 1/2 PoundOzeri Pronto Digital Kitchen and Food Scale, Elegant BlackZoku Grey Iced Coffee Maker, Travel Mug – Hot Coffee In – Iced Coffee OutCup Holder Desk Clip Silver – Durable, Portable, and Foldable!
1. Ground Coffee Dispenser. No need to measure every time.Designed to measure one tablespoon at a time, the dispenser can be used to place ground coffee directly into coffee makers or espresso machines. It is constructed to keep ground coffee fresh for maximum flavor, and the included base keeps counter tops clean of ground coffee spills. Holds up to half a pound of ground coffee. Click & Check it out here.
2. Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale An accurate scale is a must for precision coffee making and coffee bean roasting. This is a top seller. Precision Tare Button calculates the net weight of your ingredients by automatically subtracting the weight of any bowl or container.Runs on 2 AAA batteries (included) that automatically power-off after 2-minutes to preserve battery life. Click & Check it out here.
3. Grey Iced Coffee Maker – Travel Mug Pour hot coffee in – get iced coffee out. Make chilled iced coffee or tea in as little as 5 minutes, no ice needed and it works with any brewing method, including single cup machines, drip, and pour over methods 4 designer colors to choose from. Click & Check it out here.
4. Portable Cup Holder With Clamp – Durable, Portable, and Foldable! This is not cheap plastic – it is aluminum with great clamping power. It fits many sizes of cups and appears safe and secure when holding a 32oz filled cup, a mug (up to 3″ in diameter), a thermos, a water bottle, or a soda can. Click & Check it out here.