Field Trip: Slayer

Last week, we headed off to points south and visited the warehouse headquarters of Seattle Espresso Machine Co., creators of the Slayer. We’ve talked about this machine on the blog in the past, primarily because it is the first to offer baristas the ability to independently control pressure during shot extraction. It’s also a ridiculously gorgeous machine.

We filmed our field trip and you can watch all three installments here. One of the founders, Eric Perkunder, and a friend of his, Sam from Equal Exchange, were veritable fonts of information, and there was a lot we weren’t able to catch on camera. Much of the engineering theory was really cool to hear about — specifically in regard to how they started the development process of the machine by examining traditional lever-powered espresso machines that allow for a little more control over extraction. But while the levers give you more control over pressure, it’s impossible to back them off of a certain level of pressure once you’ve built that up, and the Slayer has been engineered to allow for switching between disparate pressures throughout extraction, depending on how the shot is looking. Additionally, you can control the pressure independently at each group head, so you can calibrate the two or three heads for optimum brewing of different types of coffee.

The creation of this machine was inspired by the founders’ love for really great espresso — high quality beans that are either estate specific, season specific or from a single origin were not being given a chance to shine using traditional extraction methods, so these guys decided to experiment with pressure to see how that effected the flavor. What were once ‘scorched’ shots became deliciously sweet and syrupy espresso, with a flavor and consistency that you can drink without additives like milk or sugar. It’s an altogether different experience to taste coffee prepared this way!

The Slayer is currently in several cafes around the world, according to their blog:

“Melbourne, San Francisco, Kirkland, Ann Arbor, and Calgary.  Soon more will be showing up in New York, Germany, Vancouver BC, New Zealand, Portland Oregon.”

If you’re in the Seattle area, the Slayer is in the Zoka in Kirkland and it’s definitely worth your while to experience this delicious coffee. We had an awesome — and illuminating! — time at the factory and really appreciate the guys letting us come in for a tour.

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