Slayer Espresso Machine Review
Louise Woffindin puts this top level home coffee machine to the test in our Slayer Espresso Machine review. Read on to find out if it lives up to the price tag…
When coffee is a passion rather than a simple enjoyment, we’re prepared to spend a large amount on getting the best we can afford. We’re not talking about the general coffee-loving population out to get a caffeine fix here, but true coffee aficionados and connoisseurs.
A photographer would happily spend thousands of pounds on a new camera, so why shouldn’t a coffee enthusiast spend a similar amount on a great coffee machine? Now, we do need to bear in mind that an expensive coffee machine isn’t automatically great because it costs a lot. A real coffee connoisseur will see beyond the price tag; a decent coffee machine will make them tick not because it cost thousands of pounds but because it represents who they are.
If you ask true coffee lovers to tell you about their dream coffee machine, you can expect a lot of them to mention Slayer. Why? Well, they perform exceptionally well, are simply stunning, and are out of most people’s price range. To put it simply, a Slayer Espresso machine is the Rolls Royce of the coffee industry. But with a price tag of over £9,000, is it worth the money? We’re here to find out.
The founders of Slayer Espresso have pulled out all the stops with the aim to make the best espresso coffee, irrespective of the cost. The company has been revolutionising the home coffee-making sphere since 2007 by introducing innovative products that, as their tagline claims, “Make Coffee Better.”
The company makes four different coffee machines, the Steam EP, the Steam LP, the Espresso V3 and the Single Group, dubbed “The Dream Machine,” which is the machine we’ll be looking at in this Slayer Espresso Machine review.
Slayer Espresso Single Group Specifications
The company has patented its needle-valve technology, which is responsible for producing the best flow rate out of the machine. The brew tank is independent, which means the temperature remains stable. There’s also no loss of temperature or pressure loss with steam and it uses a group head that’s the same as you’d see on commercial machines. After all, you want the same standard of coffee at home as you do in a coffee shop.
The Slayer Espresso machine comes with a glass touchscreen display, wooden handles and actuators made from Peruvian walnut, automatic shot timers, shot mirror, adjustable brew temperature, non-slip feet, a hot water tap, dual tanks, a customisable wand top, and steam pressure that can be personalised however you prefer.
The machine has a 1.1-litre brew tank, a 3.3-litre steam tank, and a 60ml pre-heat coil. It measures 46 x 61.7 x 32.4 cm and weighs in at 45.5kg.
This machine could easily be used in a small commercial establishment and so home baristas can expect exceptional quality from the build. All of the parts are commercial grade. What’s more, it’s a hefty machine that feels durable and robust.
Besides how well it’s built, it’s also beautifully designed. It has a unique, contemporary design and is entirely customisable – if you’re willing to pay to customise it of course.
As standard, it has black power-coated panels, silver X-shaped legs and wooden accents. If you do want to customise it, all of these aspects can be changed to different colours, metals, woods and finishes. You can also choose to have a cup rack too.
What It’s Like to Use the Slayer Espresso Machine
When you pay over £9,000 for a machine, you have certain expectations. Let’s see what the Slayer Espresso offers consumers.
This is a top-class machine and so we’d expect nothing less than a 5* brewing capacity. This machine has a dual boiler and a rotary pump. It has a PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) controller, which means that it monitors the water temperature continuously and makes adjustments as needed. You can alter the temperature in tiny increments, and it will stay at that temperature. The 60ml pre-heat coil also means that the brew temperature is much more stable because the water is heated passively by the steam boiler as it heads to the brew boiler.
One thing that makes the Slayer Espresso machine stand above others is its needle-valve technology. This patented valve means the flow rate can be reduced considerably during pre-brewing. With a longer pre-infusion, the ground coffee is softly saturated and thus enables you to use a very fine grind for a superb extraction without bitterness.
What’s perhaps even more impressive is that you can use the electronic group head to cycle between a pre-infusion stage and a full-pressure stage to create a coffee to suit your tastes. The manual paddle means you can emphasise acidic or sweet notes in the brew.
Of course, with such a top-class machine, it’s also worth having a top-of-the-range grinder too as well as high-quality beans. A grinder that can make a uniform, ultra-fine grind is a must.
Milk Frothing ability
The Slayer Espresso’s milk frothing is incredibly good, but this model doesn’t yet use the company’s patented steam technology like its commercial products. The steam boiler has a 3.3-litre capacity, which makes it as powerful as a commercial machine. The wand is articulated, and the tip has four holes.
For anyone who hasn’t used a commercial-grade milk frother before, it’ll take a little practice at first, particularly if you’re steaming a small amount of milk at a time. The hot water wand and steam wand are bother controlled with levers. Compared to knobs, these are a nice feature as the control is instantaneous and precise.
However, there are some things we’d prefer from the milk-frothing component of the machine. Firstly, you can easily get scalded due to the lack of double walling of the wands. Secondly, there is no mixing valve for the hot water so you can’t alter the temperature.
How user-friendly is it?
As you might expect, the Slayer machine isn’t like other home barista machines and its patented technology makes it unique. As such, you’ll have never used a machine quite like this before. You should expect it to take a little getting used to, especially at first when you’re adjusting the grind size, pre-infusion time and the flow rate.
The retro-style touchscreen is intuitive and allows you to adjust the steam pressure and boiler temperatures. This also allows you to set individual daily automatic on and off times. So, you can set it to wake up at 6:30am on a weekday but 9.00am on a weekend!
As you begin the pre-infusion, a timer will begin. This will freeze when you move the paddle, and a shot time will start. The pre-brew time can be programmed so you won’t need to do this manually for each brew.
This machine also has a great shot mirror built into its design. This means you can watch the underside of the portafilter as the coffee comes out so you can check the puck is saturated fully.
Maintenance and cleaning
If you’re paying a lot for your machine, you need to take great care of it. Cleaning the Slayer Espresso is the same as any other top coffee machine. You should use filtered water if you want to avoid scale build-up and you need to do a regular backflush. The backflush cycle is automatic, so you just need to add some cleaner and set it going.
The company has thought of everything. The machine is not only designed to look good and work well as a high-end coffee machine but it’s also built to be easy to maintain. You can tell that Jason Prefontaine, the company’s CEO, once used to fix espresso machines!
One of the biggest differences in this machine compared to other espresso makers is that it has an electronic group head. Most prosumer coffee machines use an E61 group head, which is a tried and tested model that’s been around since 1961. The group head is the component that brews the coffee. Backflushing will prevent coffee oils from building up – this should be done weekly.
Unlike most domestic machines, this espresso maker doesn’t have a water reservoir. Instead, this needs to be plumbed into the mains. If the water hardness exceeds 50 ppm, you’ll need a water softener. The plumbing of this machine means that there is less maintenance once it’s installed.
Slayer Espresso Taste Test
You expect the best-tasting coffee of your life from a machine that you invest a lot in. Yes, the machine’s craftmanship and beauty command attention but if the coffee taste doesn’t match, it’s not worth the price. Thankfully, Slayer has been successful in this regard too. Their website states that their machines are “created by coffee lovers for coffee lovers, and built with no compromises.”
Their patented flow control and needle valve precision mean coffee makers can transform their coffee to their exact requirements. Their extraction method starts with a pre-brew phrase in which there is a restricted flow rate to ‘wet’ the ground coffee. This is an essential step in coffee making as it allows the coffee to release essential coffee oils and so the flavour is improved. Without this pre-infusion, you won’t have a rich, deep flavour. Your espresso will also be creamier too. After saturation, the flow rate and pressure increase. Even with an uneven particle size, you’ll still get an excellent taste.
There’s no denying that the Slayer Espresso Group 1 machine is outstanding. Is it worth its price tag? It depends on how much you love coffee and, of course, your budget. If you’re a coffee connoisseur who appreciates the technicalities and nuances of brewing a perfect cup, it’ll be worth the expense. This machine can make coffee like no other out there.
The build is elegant and robust, it’s relatively user-friendly once you know how it works, and the coffee tastes divine. Like any machine, it needs care and maintenance, but Slayer has made this as straightforward as possible, and the manual will tell you how and when to complete a maintenance and cleaning cycle.
All in all, if crafting speciality coffee and perfecting flavours is more than just a hobby and you can afford the £9,000 price tag, you won’t be disappointed. And, if you’re really feeling flush, you can create your own customisable model on the Slayer website!