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New Custom Build: Dream Machine for Blue Bottle NYC

Ever seen a Slayer in action? Touched its wooden paddle and pulled a shot? Gripped the steam handle and blasted into a pitcher of cold milk? Then you know: these machines are about more than spec sheets.

Our clients come to us to get the most out of their coffee. But not just that: they want to slay in style. Collaborating on custom designs, we turn a fancy espresso appliance into their dream machine.

Almost half of the Slayers we build come with requests for customization. Some are simple color selections, some weird fantasies (no, we won’t shape your machine into a V12 engine), and some just plain wicked. James Freeman, founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, came to us with a wild vision for his first Slayer. And the result is stunning.

Blue Bottle custom Slayer espresso machine

As a boy in the 70s, James fell in love with a car. Not a muscly Chevelle, Mustang, or Challenger, though; as you could guess from his cafes, James’ taste leans toward the subtle, even ventures into the obscure. His dream was to drive a 1973 Citroën SM.

1973 Citroen SMPhoto courtesy of Flickr user DigitalLeica. Adapted under Creative Commons License.

In the late-60s, French car manufacturer Citroën purchased Maserati and implemented its Italian engine technology in a new V-6 coupe: the SM. It was less a sports car and more a “grand tourer”, designed for a smooth ride, impressive handling, and superior fuel economy. (Good for gas prices in San Francisco these days.)

By the way, James drives one now.

Blue Bottle’s new Slayer wasn’t inspired by the car’s specs, though – it was the interior that caught James’ eye. Bronze panels and black leather decorate the SM’s dash and console, and chrome trim outlines the entire cockpit.

Photo used with permission from

These are the elements we incorporated in our design. The process was new, experimental, and tough. The effect? Luxurious, futuristic, and, well, gorgeous.

We started with a few standard specs. Blue Bottle’s Brooklyn cafe and roastery, home to this Slayer, is a busy spot, so we built a 3-group machine with pre-brew timers. (No cup rails on this one – most folks on Berry Street are getting their ‘spro to go.) James also asked for a hot water tap and our classic Peruvian walnut handles and actuators.

3-group Slayer espresso machine with pre-brew timers

Slayer's wooden paddles and portafilter handles

Slayer hot water tap

As the most prominent part of the machine, the back panel had to be slick. We used bronze-plated aluminum, polished to a high-gloss, to echo the striking dash and console of James’ Citroën. Blue Bottle’s logo, cut from aluminum, plated with nickel, and painted blue, was then fixed front and center.

With the side panels, we began our first foray into fabric components. Using black leather and chrome would drive home our tribute to the Citroën, so this final step was a big one. The leather was wrapped around our standard panels and set in a channel along their edges. Aluminum trim was then formed and welded to fit inside the channel, securing the leather and outlining the completed machine in a spectacular shine.

Blue Bottle logo on Slayer espresso machine

Leather panel for Slayer custom espresso machine

Slayer's Seattle team

Thanks, James and Blue Bottle, for the opportunity to work on a project as rad as this. Here’s to hoping you’ll enjoy using this beauty as much as we did building it… cheers!

Has Blue Bottle’s machine sparked your imagination? We want to hear your ideas for a custom Slayer. Tell us in the comments below, or write [email protected] if you’re ready to get serious.