Slayer Espresso Machines – Brew Temperature Stability.


Jun 06, 2008


Earlier this month, we switched on the third or fourth refinement (depends on your perspective) of our series of working prototypes.  This machine is meant to demonstrate a lot about how our final machine —  the Slayer — will work as an espresso brewing device when it becomes available to anyone who wants one later this year.  

Up to this point our machine platforms were meant to demonstrate particular concepts, like dry steam production, or shot quality .  .  . or whatever. With iteration number 4, we decided to run the WBC brew temperature stability test to see how the machine would fare if we ever take it there (or maybe when we take it there).  I have posted some of our results in the table below.





The Slayer studio in Seattle is focused on coffee brewing technology, especially espresso extraction, and especially seeing what can be done to give more control to the barista with the aim of getting more out of the coffee.  

“Getting more” means dynamic pre-infusion, pressure profiling, and mimicking different brewing processes on one machine.  I will leave it to the Imagination as to what specifically is meant by this, because I don’t want to give it all away before we unveil what we’ve been working on. Let me just say that we’ve been INTRIGUED by lever brewing processes and pressure profiling–in the context of solid brew temperature control.   


There is one caveat to all this—basically the Prime Directive of our design brief.  This caveat is that improved functionality and flexibility must be accomplished without overcomplicating the system.  This means keeping an intuitive easy-to-manage interface and avoiding a confabulation of euro-style lights, poorly placed buttons & controls, and questionable features that give back very little real benefit to the barista.  So in delivering the power I’m talking about here, we did not allow complexity to emerge which would undermine the purity of what we want to achieve–a classic manual espresso brewing device, backed by rock-solid and reliable technology—not really an iEspresso machine because our styling cues come from elsewhere, not Apple, but powerful and intuitive like an iPod–an intuitive, let’s say traditional interface, that controls a state of the art machine working reliably but unobtrusively behind the scenes. 


The idea behind our work. ..  that the coffee should be the ultimate focus of every machine development, not the machine itself . . . is not that radical if you work with coffee.  Though possibly this idea would be a total paradox if your universe is primarily about gadgetry, about the techno side.  In the balancing act between art and engineering, coffee and equipment, we slant toward the art and coffee.  We bend technology to our coffee brewing objectives–not the other way around.     




Development experience now shows that the Art & Coffee approach takes way more discipline than doing it the other way because there is a lot of tantalizing, off-the-shelf technology available.  A lot of this stuff seems useful at first but really offers very little. Some of this technology is not very robust, and just gets in the way of creating an authentic experience and quality in the cup. 


Admittedly some of this stuff proved very seductive before we clued in to the fact that low build quality and poor performance were what lay at the other side of many of the whiz- bang widgetry on offer.  To really get it right, we’ve had to design and build most of our own stuff, which takes a lot more time and work, but makes it totally fulfill our purposes.  Each piece created this way has incrementally improved the machine’s performance to the point where our overall system is solid and beautiful technologically.


Okay. I’ve got to stop writing now as this is beginning to sound like an ad, instead of just a heads up for people who are awaiting news about what’s going on.  


Talk to you soon.  


Eric Perkunder 




Slayer Corporate Headquarters

PHONE: +1 206.284.7171
707 Lind Ave SW, Renton, WA 98057