Ask any home barista about their dream machine, the one they would buy if money were no object. Seriously, go ahead and ask. I bet most will say the Slayer Single Group. Why? Because it’s gorgeous, it’s high performance, and it’s wildly expensive.
It’s the Lamborghini of espresso machines!!
So the question we’re going to tackle in this review isn’t whether this is a good espresso machine. It’s fantastic. The question is whether it’s worth your money.
Let’s find out.
Summary: Slayer Single Group Espresso Machine
- Patented needle valve technology allows flow rate profiling
- PID control, pre-heat coil, and electronic group head for steady temperature
- Beautiful design is fully customizable
With different brew and pre-brew times, you can isolate the different flavours. It’s a whole new world.
– Customer review
The Slayer Espresso Machine Review
Slayer’s founders started with the single goal of producing THE BEST ESPRESSO, no matter the cost, even if that meant developing brand-new technology.
So did their gamble pay off? Let’s dig into the details.
- Brewing Capacity
- Milk Frothing
- Build Quality
- Cleaning and Maintenance
Brewing Capacity – 5/5
We’ll start with the obvious things, all of which are pretty standard in this price range. It’s a dual-boiler machine with a rotary pump. The PID controls the temperature of both boilers, which you can adjust in increments of 0.1 ℉. There’s also a 24” pre-heat coil that improves brew temperature stability. How? By passively heating water that is headed to the brew boiler, using the steam boiler.
Now let’s get to the impressive stuff, what sets the Slayer apart from the crowd, the patented needle valve technology. Using this valve, you can drastically reduce the flow rate during the pre-brew stage.
Why would you want to do such a thing?
By doing an extremely long pre-infusion, you achieve a soft saturation of the ground. Soft saturation allows you to grind significantly finer than normal. With such a fine grind, you can get really high extraction without the bitter flavors usually associated with over-extraction.
No other machine can do this.
Along with just getting a higher extraction, you can also take advantage of this technology to do what Slayer calls “flavor profiling.”
The electronic grouphead uses a manual paddle to switch between pre-infusion and full pressure. You can cycle back and forth between these two stages to emphasize sweet or acidic notes in your coffee (1).
You can also adjust the needle valve itself when dialing in a coffee. It’s easily accessed under the cup warming tray and doesn’t require any tools.
Bear in mind that taking advantage of this technology means you’ll also need to budget for a
top-of-the-line coffee grinder that can grind uniformly and ultra-fine.
User-Friendliness – 4/5
The Slayer espresso maker involves unique technology you’ve probably never encountered before. So, expect to spend a bit more time dialing in the first shots as you play around with the flow rate, grind size, and pre-infusion time. But beyond that, using the Slayer is no more complicated than any semi-automatic prosumer machine.
You operate it with an intuitive touchscreen that has a retro, Tron-style aesthetic. With this, you can set the boiler temperatures and the steam pressure. You can also set up automatic on/off times for each day of the week. In this way, you’ll be ready to pull a shot at 6 a.m. on a Monday or 10:30 on a Sunday morning.
When you start the pre-infusion, a pre-brew timer begins automatically. And when you move the paddle to brew, that timer freezes, and a shot timer kicks in. You can also program the pre-brew time, so it doesn’t need to be timed each time manually. This is an excellent feature for improving workflow efficiency, especially in a busy setting.
One of my favorite features is the built-in shot mirror over the drip tray. The mirror lets you watch your shot from the bottom up as it flows from the naked portafilter. It’s a thoughtful detail that saves you from craning your neck. Plus, it makes for some very cool Instagram photos (come on, we’re all showing our prowess as baristas online).
Milk Frothing – 4/5
The milk frothing system is excellent, on par with other commercially-rated home machines such as La Marzocco’s GS3. However, it isn’t groundbreaking when it comes to the brewing system.
That said, Slayer’s founder actually holds several patents for technology that produces drier steamed milk. But so far, you’ll only find it on the Slayer Steam commercial espresso machines.
This machine has a large 3.3-liter steam boiler, so you’ll get steam power to rival any commercial machine. The steam wand is fully articulated and has a 4-hole tip, balanced with the large boiler. But if you haven’t dealt with this level of power before, it will probably take some practice, especially when steaming smaller quantities of milk.
You control both the steam and hot water wands with levers rather than knobs. So you move the levers back and forth. I enjoy this feature as it feels like a more precise and instantaneous control.
Unlike the faultless brewing system, a few little upgrades could make the milk frothing better. The wands aren’t double-walled, so you need to be alert to avoid a burn. And the hot water tap doesn’t have a mixing valve, so you can’t lower the hot water temperature when making tea or an Americano.
Build Quality – 5/5
Slayer describes the Single Group as a commercial machine that just happens to fit well in the home. The build quality certainly reflects this. Each one is handcrafted using commercial-grade parts, and at 100 pounds dry, it feels very sturdy and durable.
You cannot review a Slayer without mentioning its stunning design, from the wooden accents to the unique X-shaped legs.
Part of the appeal is that everything is customizable, for a price. While the standard model is undoubtedly attractive, with powder-coated black panels, silver legs, and ash wood accents, you can alter every aspect to your taste. Different colors, different metals, various woods, clear panels — it’s all possible.
Want it plated in 24-carat gold? You wouldn’t be the first (2).
Cleaning and Maintenance – 4/5
Cleaning this machine is the same as for any high-end coffee maker. Use filtered water to minimize scale build-up and backflush regularly. It has an automatic backflushing cycle, so all you need to do is add cleaner and hit go.
Inside, the design is simple and well-thought-out to make maintenance as easy as possible, reflecting that CEO Jason Prefontaine once worked fixing espresso makers (3).
You can get your wrench on every fitting. We pay attention to every detail.
A significant difference between Slayer and most other machines on the market is the electronic grouphead. In contrast to the common E61 groups, or the saturated groups used by long-standing brands like La Marzocco, it’s probably more challenging to find skilled technicians and spare parts should something go wrong — though it is rated to 1 million cycles.
It doesn’t have a water reservoir; it is designed to be plumbed in. This makes daily maintenance easy and adds to its sleek aesthetic. Still, this could be a deal-breaker if you don’t have the right space. However, a recent update on the company’s Instagram suggests an upgrade will allow it to draw from an external reservoir. So stay tuned!
Do Not Buy the Slayer If….
You have a budget: If you’re interested in flow profiling but can’t justify the Slayer’s sticker price, consider a less expensive alternative like La Marzocco’s GS3 MP or an ECM with a flow control add-on. Or think about getting a lever model, for example, the La Pavoni Professional, so you can control the pressure manually.
You don’t want flow control: If you’re not interested in Slayer’s flavor profiling technology, then don’t spend money on it. Rocket makes great dual boiler and heat exchanger espresso machines like the Rocket R58 and the Rocket Giotto.
If you still want something with a unique style, check out our La Marzocco Linea Mini review.
You want a coffee, not a hobby: If you’ve got the cash but not the desire to learn the nuances of a prosumer espresso machine, you can get a top-of-the-line Jura super automatic for the same price and enjoy your latte at the push of a button.
In the introduction, I promised to tell you if the Slayer espresso maker was worth your money, but to be honest, that depends on how much money you have.
So I will say this.
The Slayer can do things no other machine on the market can. If you are interested in specialty coffee, flavor profiling, and perfecting the craft of espresso, you can absolutely get your money’s worth out of this machine.
CHECK OUT THE SLAYER MACHINE HERE
- Aloe, R. M. (2020, May 7). Espresso Parameters: PreInfusion, Pressure, and Water Temperature. Retrieved from https://towardsdatascience.com/espresso-parameters-pre-infusion-pressure-and-water-temperature-f543a3c4044e
- Plummer, T. (2018, May 29). What Do You Get From a $35,000 Espresso Machine? Retrieved from https://www.vogue.com/article/slayer-espresso-machine-upgrading-coffee-technology
- Wolfson, J. (2018, May 4). Behind the Scenes With Slayer Espresso. Retrieved from https://coolhunting.com/food-drink/slayer-espresso/