SR 500 Review (Updated to the SR540): Is it the right roaster for you?
- The Fresh Roast SR500/540 Review
- Do NOT buy the Fresh Roast if...
- The Verdict
If you are considering starting to roast beans at home to enjoy fresh coffee (nice one!), you might be interested in a fluid bed roaster. These are simple machines that use convection to heat up green coffee beans: a fan blows hot air into the roast chamber, causing the beans to move around and creating an even roast.
After their already successful SR500 (now discontinued), Fresh Roast has introduced a brand new automatic coffee bean roaster: the SR540. Is it an actual improvement? Could it be the roaster you are looking for? Let’s see.
The Fresh Roast SR500/540 Review
The Fresh Roast SR540 offers many improved features and new settings compared to the older model, the SR500. What we like the most about it is the fact that it’s brought the heat settings to a whole new level.
Instead of the low/medium/high options offered by the Fresh Roast SR500, there are now 9 different heat settings that give you better control of the process and allow for more tweaking, thanks to the real time temperature display too.
You can also adjust the fan speed: the best technique is to start with the highest setting and then slowly turn it down to control it. The display (which is larger than the previous model) also tells you how long you’ve been roasting for, with a maximum of 9.9 minutes.
There’s a Run/Cool button that allows you to switch from blowing hot air to a 3 minute cool cycle that overrides the timer without interrupting the roasting process.
Unfortunately this roaster hasn’t got a smoke suppression feature. While the top of the machine does a pretty good job at slowing down the smoke, make sure you roast in a ventilated area or underneath your stove’s hood fan (especially if you are going for a dark roast).
Ease of Use 4.5/5
The minimalistic interface makes it a perfect starting point for beginners. This model has a single dial for fan speed, temperature and time, and handy default settings (fan speed 5, heat 9, and timer 6).
It also has a handle that makes it easier to use (and harder to burn yourself!) compared to the previous model. All-in-all, without much roasting knowledge, you should be able to achieve the roast profile you're looking for when learning to roast with this mini home roaster.
Roasting Capacity 3/5
Like its predecessor, the SR540 has a capacity of 120g, which is enough for about 2 liters of coffee at the SCAA’s “golden ratio” of 55g/liter. While the new and larger roast chamber didn’t increase the roasting capacity, it certainly improved the air flow as well as visibility. This costs it points for roasting capacity, especially if you brew larger pots of coffee.
Roast Quality 4/5
The SR540 is a very efficient fluid bed roaster: thanks to the fluid motion of the hot air directed by the adjustable fan, it prevents the roasted beans from staying in the same position and burning, ensuring an even roasting process (1). Users are quite satisfied with the quality of the roast, especially at the price point of the SR540.
“If you are used to roasting on an electric popcorn popper, the Fresh Roast SR540 offers the features you are missing.” - Sweet Maria’s
Roasting Time 4.5/5
The SR540 only takes an average of 5-10 minutes to complete a roast, making it the perfect automatic coffee bean roaster for busy amateurs who don’t want to invest too much time in their occasional coffee roasting.
As you roast the green coffee beans, they will expand and “shed their protective skin that is discarded as chaff, and usually this is an annoyance for coffee roasters as it’s seen as waste that gets everywhere due to its fluffy, light texture.” (2)
Luckily, this roaster comes with a handy chaff collector located on its top, simplifying the cleaning process after each roast.
Sweet Marias does a little run down of the difference between the sr540 and sr500
Do NOT buy the Fresh Roast if...
You already own the SR500 or want to roast more than 120g
While we definitely recommend it if you are looking to upgrade from a popcorn popper, we don’t particularly suggest buying this newer model if you already own the Fresh Roast SR500.
Because the parts are not compatible and the roasting capacity is the same, we don’t believe that the new improved features justify the upgrade. If you already own the SR500 or if you simply want to be able to roast more than 120g in one go, we recommend switching to drum roasters. A bigger and more advanced model that could be right for you is the Behmor Plus roaster. You can also read our reviews on the best coffee roasters here.
You are ready to invest in a more professional roaster
We believe that the Fresh Roast SR540 is very good value for money. However, if you’d rather invest in a ‘fancier’ coffee roaster, we think the Gene Cafe might be the best option for you. This automatic coffee bean roaster has been around for over 10 years and is still a solid favorite amongst customers. Gene Cafe is known for its bean agitation, which is not caused by air, but by the rotation of the off-axis drum.
We believe that the Fresh Roast SR540 is a welcome improvement of an already established model. It’s the perfect introductory roaster for beginners who decided to upgrade from a popcorn popper or have never even roasted coffee before: lots of handy features, short roast time, easy to use, and very good value for money.
Ready to roast and enjoy some high quality fresh coffee? Here are a few tips on roasting at home!
Is the Fresh Roast SR540 better than the SR500?
Yes, the Fresh Roast SR540 is better than the SR500 because it includes more functions (such as 9 temperature settings instead of 3), has a larger display and a practical handle. While the roasting capacity is the same, the larger roast chamber improves the air flow and visibility.
Does the Fresh Roast SR540 come with a warranty?
Yes, the Fresh Roast SR540 comes with a 1 year warranty. However, it’s only available for orders that are shipped within North America.
What is the difference between a fluid bed roaster and a drum roaster?
The difference between a fluid bed roaster and a drum roaster is that the former uses a stream of hot air to roast the beans, whereas the latter uses an externally-heated spinning drum. Fluid bed roasters are often preferred for home coffee roasting. Drum roasters can roast bigger quantities of beans and are considered to be more reliable and professional.
- Sweet Maria’s. (n.d.). Fresh Roast sr540. Retrieved from https://www.sweetmarias.com/fresh-roast-sr540.html
- Zero-waste coffee: exploring the many uses of coffee chaff. (2018, April 4). Retrieved from https://ironandfire.co.uk/2018/04/04/coffee-recycling/