I used a Gene Cafe for about a year. The only thing I didn't like about it was the difficulty I had in hearing the cracks over the sound of the beans sloshing around. I upgraded to a 5lb RK drum roaster (modified gas grill) which I REALLY like. I actually used that to roast for a friends coffee house while I was waiting for my commercial roaster. The only thing about the gas grill--- VERY easy to catch on fire. I almost lost my house once or twice.
It depends how much you want to roast at once. I tend to roast smaller batches and like the brighter taste profile so any of the smaller air roasters work well. For about 1/2 lb, the HotTop is great if a bit pricey. Still the "gold standard" for home roasters I'd say. Nice roast profiles, preheat cycle, and customizable.
The best bang for the buck has got to be the Behmor. The roaster keeps the chaff in with the rest of the roasting beans, and I've had a minor fire with it while roasting well into the 2nd crack. This issue was actually stated in the manual, but it seems that I'm a bit of a rule breaker. The heated ceramic does scrub a bit of the particulates out of the exhaust, but I wouldn't call it smokeless. It does a full pound at a time, and most importantly...it actually works! :-)
I've been roasting with a Behmor for the past six months, and it's no problem roasting a full pound or roasting dark (30 sec into 2nd). You can't really do both at the same time, though–the way you get it that dark is by roasting 12oz or so on the 1lb setting. I'm 50 pounds in, and I love it.
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