The Slayer: the Ferrari of coffee machines
The Slayer. No, it’s not a heavy metal band.
The $26,000 Slayer espresso machine is known as the Ferrari of the coffee world -- and for coffee geeks like Keith Reay, it’s java nirvana.
Reay, the owner of the Crows Nest micro coffee roaster and espresso bar, Bean Drinking, was only the seventh person in the world to purchase the rare machine. At the time -- January 2010 -- it was one of only 40 in the world; there are now 105.
But the love hasn’t worn off -- Reay even refers to a suspended droplet of coffee falling from one of the Seattle-made coffee machine's handles as “coffee porn”.
The pressure of coffee
With handcrafted Peruvian wood paddles and polished stainless steel casting, the gleaming machine may look sexy, but it’s the holy grail for espresso nuts for one rather simple reason: variable pressure.
“With a typical espresso machine, you simply press a button and it will automatically use nine bars of pressure to extract coffee,” Reay explains. “Most modern coffee machines will have a temperature control, but this is the only machine where you can manually control the pressure during the shot."
"It allows us to extract the most desirable flavors from the coffee.”
Simply put, forcing hot and highly pressurized water rapidly through a filter basket packed with coffee fails to bring out the coffee’s subtle flavors and masks its true potential. But The Slayer’s variable pressure allows the barista to employ an infinite number of pressure combinations -- called “pressure profiling” -- to draw out the coffee’s most delicate characteristics.
What sort of bang do you get for your buck?
To illustrate, Keith Reay gets behind the wheel.
The grind of the day is Fazenda Samambaia -- a 100 percent Yellow Bourbon pulped natural from the Sul de Minas (Minas Gerais) region in Brazil. It tends to be “quite light and floral," according to Reay, but the flavors can be tweaked by variable pressure.
Stepping behind the machine, Keith carefully times the first pressure profile, gradually increasing the pressure to five bars by 18 seconds and cranking it up to nine bars by 35 seconds, before lowering it back down to five. All fairly scientific stuff.
The result is a viscous: fragrant coffee with a thick crema. The taste is bright and acidic, with just a hint of liquorice at the finish.
Next, Keith uses the same amount of coffee, scraped and tapped in the same way. The only difference is the pressure: it's altered so the second cup is sweeter, with more enhanced liquorice and chocolate tones.
It allows the barista infinite ways to serve exactly the same coffee tailored to suit the palate. “If people prefer a citrus taste, we can pull it the first way,” says Reay. “If people prefer chocolate and nut, we pull it the second way.”
“It’s simply about being able to take one roast, one grind, one coffee,
one machine and be able to customize the flavors to suit the customer.”
A Slayer espresso costs $3.50 at Bean Drinking, Shop 1-13 Ernest Place, Crows Nest, Open daily 8 a.m.-6 p.m., +61 (0)2 9436 1678, www.beandrinking.com.au