I strongly recommend that you start with a combination of the Whirly-Pop and a hot air popper. You need a camping/outdoor stove for the Whirly-Pop. You need an operable kitchen window or an outdoor plug for the air popper.
I need two batches from the air popper to last four days. It is better for lighter roasts. See my comments in air popper above.
The Whirly-Pop will roast 16 oz, which is way too much for our house. Use 8 oz at a time. I find the Whirly-pop better for full city + to french roast. There is so much smoke with 16 oz beans, that I personally cannot see what is going on to decide when to stop the roast.
You also need distilled water and a mister and a colander.
I would wait on the more expensive roaster. After roasting a bit, you will decide what level of roast you like -- some machines are better for a precise light to medium roast, while others create a better dark roast. You will also decide how much time and effort you want to spend on the roast -- do you like to tinker or are you a set and forget kind of person? Finally, you will have experienced a variety of roasts (which you might not have experienced with a more reproduceable and reliable method) and you will have learned what you really prefer.
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