About Fresh Roast SR500
NOTE JUNE 2019: The Fresh Roast SR500 has been discontinued and replaced with the FRESH ROAST SR540. Click here to see this latest model.
There are now a number of Fresh Roast models that have replaced the Plus 8 model that had been available for a number of years. All of the SR models can roast coffee dark, desirable for those into that style, however, these roasters do not offer smoke suppression. If you roast dark expect to roast under an oven exhaust hood, near an open window or outdoors if the weather is warm enough to not reduce thermal efficiency. Roasting outside in the cold will increase roast time but cooling will be quicker.
Build quality is sturdy and clean, operation is very quiet and controls are easy to read and understand. All of the SR series roasters can roast about twice as much as earlier Plus 8 models, now 4 scoops (supplied), each 43cc. This is equivalent to about 4.5 ounces or 130 grams of green coffee, enough to yield 18 to 20 cups.
We think the SR340 should now be considered the entry level SR roaster, priced at $149. The SR500 at $179 adds a 4 way roasting temperature switch (high, medium, low, off). Both models have timers that are preset to 5.9 minutes and you can increase or decrease time as needed.
Latest models from Fresh Roast - SR500 (left) and SR340
Dimensions: Height 12 7/8", Width 6 3/4", Depth 8 1/8"
- Roasting capacity 120 grams, roughly 1/4 pound
- Variable fan speed control
- Digital display. Maximum time on the control is 9.9 minutes.
- Has three buttons: Up, Down, Cool
- At any point during the roast 6 seconds can be added for every tap of the Up button; likewise, the Down button takes away time in 6 second increments
- Tapping the Cool button overrides the timer and places the roast into a 3 minute cooling cycle
Model SR500 - All of the above features plus:
- Three temperature settings that can be adjusted any time during the roast.
-- High temp is 490 degrees
-- Medium 455 degrees
-- Low 390 degrees
Both models share the same physical body and dimensions. What is different is functionality, which can be seen clearly by looking at the plainly laid out controls.
|Variable convection fan control|
|Temperature control - 3 settings for roast control|
|Time control - precise digital time display|
|Adjust temperature and time without interrupting roasting cycle|
|Heat override switch to fine tune your roast without interrupting roasting cycle|
|Roast beans enough for 20 cups in under 10 minutes|
|Easy to use for novice and experienced roasters|
|Speed Roast fluid motion system ensures fast, even roasting|
|Roast any coffee light or dark|
One of the problems with the original Plus 8, in our opinion, is that it was easy to scorch beans, which happened during the early stages of the roast. The dense beans sat just above the heating element and fan, but the fan wasn't sufficiently powerful to get them airborn. So, they just sat there getting overheated on their underside until they had shed enough water weight to begin moving in the air stream. These new models address the problem with a variable speed base fan more powerful than the Plus 8. The heating element is also considerably more powerful at 1600 watts than the earlier model's 1100. The ability to regulate fan speed, combined with heat intensity, offers some protection against scorching. The manufacturer suggests if beans are particularly dense or high in moisture that you run it with beans in and heat off for a couple of minutes. Likewise, you may want to lower the fan speed toward the end of the roast. The more expensive model gives you more ability to tweak and many roasters will like that.
SR500 (left) compared to the discontinued Plus 8 model.
Latest SR models roast roughly twice the amount as previous Plus 8, however, the footprint is not much different. The roasting chamber, really a glass cup fitted within a handle and base, has twice the capacity. Heated air is forced up from a fan in the base, past a heating element, through the coffee bed and out through holes in the lid. Chaff, or the skin that comes off beans during roasting, gets trapped inside the two-part lid and can be easily disposed. Both models are very effective at trapping chaff and users should be certain to empty the collector after each roast.
Inside view of lid. Screen captures chaff
Conclusion: The new SR models from Fresh Roast offer beginner and experienced roasters a good tool for roasting beans enough for a couple of pots. The roaster performs quickly and is capable of the full roasted coffee range from light to dark. It has no smoke suppression nor does anything else close to it in price, but that also makes it possible to do dark roasts. The additional features of the SR500 make it worth the extra investment but the base model will satisfy many.
Download the instruction manual.