BeanScene speaks to Slayer Espresso machine users about the features they have fallen in love with and the values of simplicity, design, and accessibility.
Tanya Howarth, Padre Coffee Victorian Sales Manager and former Brunswick East Retail Manager, has in-built muscle memory for one brand of espresso machine and one machine only: Slayer Espresso.
As somebody who joined Padre Coffee three years ago with no coffee experience, Tanya has learned to make coffee from scratch using Slayer machines. From the beginning, she says the machine’s simplicity is what she appreciates most.
“I can speak from first-hand experience and say it is really easy to learn on, especially with its paddles and three-position steam actuator. It’s all those little details and ergonomics that help and make workflow easier,” Tanya says.
At Padre Coffee’s South Melbourne and Brunswick East sites, four different espressos are dialled in each morning within a 30-minute window. Pre- COVID, its South Melbourne store using a two-group and three-group Slayer Espresso V3, would pump out 38 kilograms of coffee in 10 hours.
The same combination of machines is used at Padre Coffee’s Brunswick East site, with the three-group predominately used for espresso, and the two-group for milk-based coffees.
“In peak periods, one person does shots on the three-group, the milk coffees are done on the two-group using the right-hand steam wand, and the space between the machines is the pass,” Tanya says.
“I find it extremely easy to texture milk on the V3. I’m an oat milk drinker and can say that it really does stand up to all milks.”
Padre Coffee first became aware of Slayer Espresso machines around 2010 after the release of its V1. The team immediately fell in love with its design and ordered their first model. Slayer Founder Jason Prefontaine worked closely with the team to improve the mechanics to best suit their high-volume needs. The result of such feedback also culminated in the development of the Slayer Steam Line.
This consists of two models: the Steam EP and the Steam LP. Named after records, the EP is the ‘extended play’, distilling the features required of specialty coffee into one neat volumetric package. The LP, or ‘long play’, builds on the EP’s feature set, adding pressure profiling and a host of other features for discerning coffee pros.
From her experience of managing stores, Tanya says she can confidently recommend Slayer Espresso machines to her customers in regards to its reliability and how they handle substantial volume.
“Our use of Slayer over the past 12 years means that we know they stand up to the test. They have time and time again, so using them is a no brainer,” Tanya says.
Tanya says being so client facing and observing the enjoyment of café customers using Slayer Espresso is really rewarding. Even more so, is the interest of baristas who want to understand “the nitty gritty side of coffee”.
“I love seeking that beautiful spark of curiosity. I know when we work with those sorts of customers, the Slayer is going to be really great for them. I think anyone who tries out Slayer Espresso says ‘this is a fantastic piece of machinery’ or ‘I just enjoy working on it’. Easy workflow, beautiful design, it just makes sense,” Tanya says.
Now in a training and teaching capacity, Tanya has her eyes on a Slayer LP for Padre’s Brunswick East training room to aid the increased demand for training.
“The LP brings the best features of the EP and V3 together, with a greater freedom around experimenting. It embodies a lot of the original ideas from the V3 and has adapted to trends from the past 10 years such as dialling in coffees to taste through a more descriptive weight-in weight-out process,” Tanya says.
Beyond the technicalities, Tanya says the Padre Coffee team values the transparency between the roaster and the manufacturer to talk about improvements, or even new designs.
“Anyone in our industry knows how important accessibility and access to customer service is, and that’s why we’re really happy to stick with Slayer,” Tanya says.
“Hugh [McDonnell from Slayer Espresso] is our rep and his approachability and openness to assist in learning has been amazing – he can get as technical or complicated as you want or pull it back and make it palatable for everyday café owners. I think that approachability is a really beautiful part of the brand.”
For Pablo & Rusty’s Senior Coffee Specialist Paul Thompson, his first real interaction with the Slayer Espresso brand came about on his visit to the 2018 Melbourne International Coffee Expo. To be completely honest, he says Slayer Espresso wasn’t on his radar until it became available in volumetric mode.
“I was impressed. It certainly looked beautiful on the bench. It has no bad angle. It’s simple but elegant at the same time,” Paul says. “We decided to get a bunch of different branded machines in over a couple of months at a time and did our own R&D testing, looking at design, coffee taste, maintenance, and service, which was a big deal for us as a company to keep servicing costs down. Reliability was also important to consider, and it lived up to everything.”
From an advanced barista perspective, Paul, who is marking his 10- year anniversary with Pablo & Rusty’s in November, says his favourite feature on the Steam LP is going into manual mode, and at any time being able to brew, taste, assess, and make a quick change to one group while the machine is in use. Another feature Paul appreciates is the generous brewing space, the ease of cleaning the machine, having a weight comparison without scales, pre-infusion without multiple gear pumps, and just how simplistic the functions are to use.
“There are some machines on the market where you almost need a degree to use and understand, but Slayer has really thought about things from a simple perspective,” Paul says.
Of all Pablo & Rusty’s customers, Paul says there is a 50/50 split between those using Slayer EP and LP models.
“The choice comes down to personal opinion and functionality of the machine. I think the EP is brilliant for its ability to handle high volume and its simplicity. But for those that really want to step up their game, who are super passionate and want to run single origins, we suggest the LP,” Paul says. “That machine is super consistent.
You can make quick changes, and do pre- and post-infusion on that machine. Whereas it’s a pre-wet on the EP, still a nine bar – four seconds on, four seconds off – and you can still do a bit of manipulation as well.”
Annie Wu has owned and managed the original site of Pablo & Rusty’s in Sydney where company Founder Saxon Wright first started the business 18 years ago. She is also a 10-year coffee professional and Pablo & Rusty’s contract trainer who helps prepare baristas with basic through to advanced skills.
At time of print, Annie had only been using the Slayer Steam LP for the past four weeks, but her initial impression of the machine was already positive.
“I’m enjoying just how easy it is to use. It’s very stable and I really can say the coffee tastes better, especially our milk-based coffees which have hugely improved,” she says.
“We push the actuator to the right for programmed milk-based blends, and to the middle for programmed for single origins. For additional special coffees we choose to run them manually.”
Also of benefit is the adjustable height of the machine to accommodate different cup sizes, and just how large the space is from the group head to the tray, meaning Annie can eliminate transferring her shots to cups, which was a time-consuming process on previous machines.
Her other favourite consideration is just how much the machine encourages customer engagement thanks to the LP’s low profile.
“I really like the fact that I can answer customer questions easily while looking at them over the top of the machine as I prepare their coffee,” Annie says. “That’s an interaction we want to encourage.”
For more information, visit www.slayerespresso.com
This article appears in the October 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.