As coffee lovers, we live in a beautiful time when brewing the perfect, robust, flavourful cup of coffee can be as simple as flicking a switch.

However, with a wide selection of equipment options, the decision on what gear to invest in can be overwhelming and costly for the newbie coffee brewer.


The quest to produce the “perfect cup” is an art and every stage in the creative process matters.

From the choice of bean to the size of grind, every decision made ultimately impacts whether the end result leaves us feeling satisfied and fulfilled or with a bitter taste in our mouth… literally!

Enter The Fresh Roast SR800, described by many as the best home coffee roaster.

First Impressions

At its cost, the SR800 is not the most expensive piece of gear you’ll add to your home café, but it is costly compared to using a skillet (which we don’t advise though) or manual stovetop roaster.

What makes this machine worth the investment is the ease of use, especially for the beginner, which ultimately leads to less coffee having to be discarded as a result of improper roasting technique.

Simply put, Fresh Roast SR800 helps you learn the roasting process while keeping your mistakes to a minimum.

SR540 vs SR800

SR800 is an upgrade on its predecessor, the SR540 in both roasting capacity (the SR800 has a capacity of 8oz per batch versus 4oz for the SR540) and overall quality. It boasts a stronger fan as well.

The Rundown

The machine consists of 3 main components: the base, the roasting chamber and the chaff collector. We’ll discuss each element separately and assemble it piece by piece together.

If you're looking to step up your coffee game, this is it. The bar for entry has been lowered with this roaster

Base

The base is comprised of the heating element, the fan and the control panel. It is important to note that due to the power needed to run the machine, it is recommended that the roaster be plugged in on its own circuit to ensure proper functionality. Not getting enough power to the machine can cause heating or ventilation issues.

But beyond this point, the SR800 offers simple control functions that allow for experimentation without fear of damaging the machine.

Controls

The fan speed, temperature and timer are all adjustable and accessed by a single knob found on the front display. By pushing the knob, we can toggle through each element and adjust out settings by turning the dial left or right.

Both the fan and temperature can be adjusted from 1 – 9, offering much more control over your roast and the ability to make incremental adjustments as you experiment with your technique. If we spin the dial quickly clockwise, the internal temperature is displayed in Fahrenheit.

Technology

The roaster uses fluid-bed heating technology, which means that your beans will be roasted using moist hot air, ensuring even distribution throughout the batch and locking in as much flavour as possible.

Roasting Chamber

The roasting chamber is made of glass, with a capacity to hold up to 8 ounces of fresh coffee beans, producing roughly one half pound of coffee out of each batch. Depending on your brew preferences, this amount should yield 20-25 cups.

The beans are roasted inside a glass pitcher, which ensure proper temperature, as well as airflow, and locks in the flavour of the coffee bean throughout the roasting process.

Upgrade options

An extension tube is also available for purchase if you’re looking to roast your coffee in larger batches.

The extension tube also allows for better air circulation throughout the chamber, resulting in less bean scorching.

The clear glass construction ensures that we’re able to monitor our progress at every stage of the roasting cycle.

In addition, sounds of first and second cracks can be heard easily in our SR800 as pops echoe off the chamber walls.

Chaff Collector

The chaff collector sits on top of the chamber and does exactly as the name would suggest. What’s more important is that it does so very efficiently.

Coffee chaff (also called the silver-skin) is a parchment-like covering of the coffee bean that flakes off during the roasting process.

Chaff Basket
Chaff Basket Top
Chaff Collector Lid

The collector for the Fresh Roast SR800 disassembles into 3 parts, making the cleaning process relatively painless and stress-free.

There are no clips or attachments to hold the collector in place, so it’s important not to move the roaster with the top attached, as it can fall off and break easily if disturbed.

Smoke Suppression

This is also where the smoke produced in the roasting process is expelled, so to avoid setting off any smoke alarms, place the roaster underneath your oven hood vent or directly in front of an open window.

There can be a surprising amount of smoke produced and can catch the newbie roaster off guard.

Roasting Process

The roasting process will take about 7-15 minutes, depending on your preferences. When you’re satisfied with your roast, carefully remove the chaff collector. The top will be extremely hot, so wear oven mitts and don’t lean in too close, as inviting as the intoxicating aromas will be.

Try to avoid dropping any chaff into your beans and remove any leftover debris once the beans have cooled.

Give Coffee Beans a Rest

It’s vital to allow your beans 24-48 hours to set, but it’s also OK to brew them right after roasting.

Pour them into a cooling tray and let them breathe. Beans will continue to release carbon during next 7 days and bring out the intended flavour of the roast.

Impatience can ruin a perfectly roasted batch of coffee beans and sour a new home roaster on the hobby.

Whatever your reason may be for roasting your own coffee beans at home, it doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming and Fresh Roast SR800 makes it as simple as it gets.

Roastmaster Dave goes into more specifics about the roasting process, as well as explaining some of the terms a beginner roaster may not be familiar with. We highly recommend checking it out.

Customers Reviews

The reviews are mostly positive on Fresh Roast SR800. As far as home roasters go, any coffee enthusiast looking to start roasting their own beans will be served well by investing in this machine.

Its ease of use is perfect for the newcomer with no experience, as well as the advanced roaster. The single knob system for adjusting our roaster’s settings is simple to navigate.

It lets home roasters of all levels experiment and tweak their technique without any fear of damaging the machine or ruining too many batches.

As previously stated, roasting coffee beans produces a surprising amount of smoke and the one constant critique of Fresh Roast SR800 is that the ventilation could be better.

This could be considered either a minor flaw or major drawback depending on your living situation, but with a good hood vent, we didn’t find it to be too much of an issue.

Some reviewers have also reported mechanical issues with the fan malfunctioning, or certain elements suddenly not working properly, but these seem to be isolated occurrences and not related to the machines structure are engineering itself.

Our take

Fresh Roast SR800 is a great piece of coffee gear and an excellent choice for a novice home roaster.


Pros

  • Relatively low price
  • Intuitive controls
  • Works pretty fast
  • Great visibility of the roasting process
  • Easy chaff management

Cons

  • Small batch size
  • Smoke suppression could be better
  • Some users say engine wears out after a couple of years

The power consumption needed to run the roaster properly can be a slight hassle if there aren’t many available outlets, but with a roast time of less than 20 minutes, it is only a temporary inconvenience.

Although we can appreciate some negative sentiment in regards to the smoke ventilation, it does not devalue our opinion of the machine.

Comparing to Behmor 2000AB (it’s main rivalry in budget segment), this machine is easier to use, works faster and doesn’t create mess at all. However, it handles less beans at a time and loses in quality of materials.

We found this machine to be a fun piece of gear that simplifies the roasting process, without limiting our ability to experiment and play around with our settings.

Our conclusion is that the Fresh Roast SR800 is a great companion on your quest for “the perfect cup of coffee” and a good investment for any potential enthusiast wondering where to start.

Sources:

  1. The Captains Coffee – https://thecaptainscoffee.com/pages/sr540-and-sr800
  2. Sweetmarias – https://sweetmarias.com/fresh-roast-sr800.html

Useful links:

  1. Reddit | How you can modify your Fresh Roast for better productivity https://www.reddit.com/r/roasting/comments/i6mfzk/freshroast_mods/
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