Chinese Roasters - Professional Opinion
China has been getting a lot of bad press lately. Don't look to me for reassurance. I have had several inquiries about coffee roasters that are manufactured in China. I have researched several of these machines and one or two of the most active manufactures. The bottom line...you get what you pay for.
Everyone has experienced cut-rate junk from China. If you have ever shopped at Harbor Freight Tools you will understand what I mean. If you are a professional running a shop, I recommend you don't risk your business on one of these machines. When this machine fails you will be hard pressed to get technical support or repairs. With their present marketing tactics, these manufacturers will take weeks to get parts to you and your business will be belly-up by the time you get your roasters up and running again.
If you are a home/hobby roaster looking for a cheap way to take your roasting to the next level up from the popcorn popper in your kitchen, you would be far better off buying a rotisserie cage for your gas grill - it will save you many hundreds of dollars and the quality of the roast will be every bit as good, not to mention you'll be less likely to burn your house down in your pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee.
Also, be warned about the ads for Chinese roasters on eBay. The seller says that the product ships from California, at the top of the page. But read on...shipping is calculated from China and it is shipped from the factory in China, not actually from California. And while the seller has 4 roasters available, this person also states that the roaster is "custom built" and also that it will take 4 to 6 weeks to ship. Then it goes on to say local pick-up is available. So, where exactly is the truth in this ad? Somebody should alert eBay to these inconsistencies...there needs to be some truth in advertising. The "every roaster's dream" from China could well be your worst nightmare in the long run, mark my words.
If you really want to buy a coffee roaster from eBay, you would be better off with a reputable seller and a quality roaster such as Toper, Garanti or Ozturk. The factories for these firms are located around the city of Izmir, Turkey, and they have been in the business for decades. They do an outstanding job with the metal fabrication and the roasters are very durable and built with precision. I am not endorsing any eBay seller, only stating that the Turkish roasters are very dependable, have a proven track record and have a broader base of support after the sale. I have worked with these Turkish-built roasters and they do a very nice job.
Of course, the best business recommendation I can make is to shop at home. Diedrich and Ambex turn out very well built machines that will last for years. I have worked with roasters from both of these companies and been well pleased. These firms are here in the states and both offer decent customer service and parts are readily available. There are also technicians in various parts of the country that will work on these American-built machines and can help you avoid serious business losses if your roaster goes down.
I have been roasting coffee for years and do not represent any roaster companies. I have worked with a variety of roasters and the opinions in this post are based on my own experience and research. Take it for what it's worth.
Last edited by BeanGrinder; 02-25-2013 at 01:43 PM.
02-25-2013 09:42 AM
thanks for the above info.
i recently received an email from the Chinese Roaster Co. and they sent me a link to ebay. i am currently in Lima, Peru, and their price includes shipping to the Peruvian port! talk about cheap, what the hell!
i would be concerned of machinery failure as well, being its a new company. btw, the company name is North Coffee Equipment Co., Ltd.
Originally Posted by BeanGrinder
I have few problems with your statement and also agree with you on some of the ebay sellers.
1. Ambex is not American made. They are turkish built and assembled in US so you should be careful about origin of the equipment
2. Saying all Chinese roaster are bad is very faulty statement. And no proven record is just your opinion. I am not a seller of any or represent any of the roaster companies but there are over 1200 chinese made roasters are in Korea, Japan, Thailand and many other asian countries. There maybe many bad chinese roasters are out there but there are many reputable makers as well. You just need to be able to find one.
3. California seller is just a reseller of the just one of the manufacture in China. The brand is same as what i have researched on. He must have few 1kg machines in stock but thats about it. You can actually buy one direct for about 500 dollars cheaper. I do not know much of this maker.
4. If you have 35-40k laying around your bank account, please buy American over priced machine. And they are very good or you can also purchase some very expensive European versions as well. But if you are in budget crunch and would like to purchase cheaper machine, you should look for Turkish and Chinese. There aren't any decent Chinese brand supplier here in US but I believe there are very good Chinese made Roasters.....
You have good points about parts availability and after service problems since there aren't any dealers but just strictly pricing point, you can't beat Chinese made. Personally I would buy Chinese machine if I need to since I can fix most of the problems myself or fabricate through few of the machine shops in US but i would not recommend buying Chinese machine to anyone who is expecting some type of Warranty, after service and tech support..... Those will be very minimal.....
Thank you BeanGrinder for your report. China does get bad press. However, if you are privy to the information in your post then perhaps "YOU" should report them after all you know more about this particular situation then the rest.
Originally Posted by BeanGrinder
I buy on eBay from China quite often and have been burned many times. However, I have saved a great deal of money as well by buying from China. Quite a few of the vendors will follow-up (not required) andd email me to ensure all is well.
One of the notorious areas to stay away from or to be leery of is the electronics department. I am heavy into computer electronics and have bought my cables from there (phone, DVD's, printer, laptop, etc..). I will gamble on the cheaper priced items if I am not in a hurry for the product and the results have now been about 90/10 that I will be satisfied with the product which ironically is the same percentage I am seeing when I buy U.S. except in the U.S. I can get immediate satisfaction at little cost whereas from China you just have to bite the bullet because it will cost more to seek restitution if the seller isn't accommodating.
I have been hard-headed and so forgiving in that I got burnt three times by buying fraudulent flash drives. The first two was out of complete ignorance then I read that eBay banned a lot of China sellers because they would say the flash drive was 32gigger but really was only an 8 gigger made to read as a 32g. Only after you try to retrieve the data did you discover that you have been had.
The final time and a couple of years after eBay made there announcement that they have cleared them out but for the buyer to still be cautious as the China sellers would just start up with a new name. I saw another good deal (so I thought) because it appeared that the seller was a power seller with several thousands of sells and had been an eBay seller for over a year - cool I thought but alas, the drive was not what it was advertised to be. I chalked it up as a final lesson learned.
I will still buy from China but I am and have also develop a favorite seller list for my goods and don't be afraid to ask one of the vendors from your favorite seller list to recommend someone for a particular product because the reputable sellers do indeed value their good name.
I import some things from China and have friends that import alot of things from China. It is ALWAYS buyer beware. If you do not have a relationship, the alternative is to use a trusted third party verifying agency but that will add approximately 10% to your cost.
The Chinese are very good at copying equipment. That is, they tear it down and rebuild it HOWEVER, I have seen simple thing copied that they did not understand how it worked. When you try to fix it, you realize that the mechanism doesn't work because it was put together without understanding its purpose.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! WMark, that was just toooooooo funny for a simple LOL.
Originally Posted by wmark
I laugh because it sounds like me at the age of 7-11; I simply tore stuff up. However, it paid off later in life as I have been able to use my creativity to produce a nice dollar even in this economy.
I know you were serious, but thanks for the laugh!
CJ: You are right and I should be careful about how I generalize. My focus was intended toward the couple of Chinese built roasters that are showing up on eBay. Southeast Asia may be full of coffee roasters, but I am primarily concerned with the new batch of shop-size roasters people are seeing on eBay and inquiring about. What I have found is that there are several different Chinese firms that are selling equipment that is actually made in only a few factories, and only two of those factories are of notable size, and neither is turning out a quality product.
And, true that Ambex was getting metal work done in Turkey and adding controls and burner units here. At one point they were moving away from that and I am pretty sure they were fabricating the YM-2 completely here in the US. I have not kept up with them, but it was my impression that they were going to try to manufacture most of the shop-size roasters locally. If anyone has an update please chime in. I should make a pilgrimage to Florida and pay them a visit.
An added point about Turkey and Ambex roasters...I can't speak for Ambex, but Turkey has historically been known for their outstanding metalwork, which is why a number of roaster companies have utilized Turkish manufacturing skills for the "shell" of the roaster. It would seem advantageous for Ambex to add their own controls so they could mate their profile roasting software to the roaster, not to mention general compliance with standards in the U.S.
Last edited by BeanGrinder; 02-28-2013 at 07:57 AM.
i would only suggest that if it seems to good to be true...
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I've spent quite a bit of time in China and there are huge industrial parks in every city with all the famous US and European names on the Factories. China can produce any quality point the customer wants to pay for. It just so happens most customers want dirt cheap so the quality is minimal but consistant. Your iPhone is made where? China (by a Taiwan Co)
Has anyone roasted on the gas version of North Co. Machines? Steel is steel right? Are the motors, bearings, gears, etc the same quality as US Roaster Corp? Of course not at the 3K price point; but if you can reach first crack in 9 minutes then there's a possibility. if you want to direct import, the builder and customs broker can handle details. If I were to get one, it would be the LPG TJ-001 with the cast iron drum and some spare parts just in case.
Those huge industrial parks with name brand factories also have company supervisors and inspectors ensuring quality standards, packaging etc.
As a little guy, unless you can pay for third party verification, it is buyer beware.
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