Slayer Through the Years: V1, V2, V3, and Beyond
Jul 07, 2014
For every sensational product line and piece of kit, there’s – somewhere – a pile of dusty prototypes, a group of starry-eyed beta testers, and an R&D team in need of much R&R. Slayer started right along these lines (plus or minus the vacation time) but, if you’ve followed along, you’ll notice: we’ve come a long way.
“How did we get here?”, we sometimes wonder. The evolution of our favorite espresso machine has fascinated, enlightened, humbled, and amused us. Its stages are many; its process, fun; its result, fulfilling. Now, happily building Slayer V3, we’re remembering the earlier versions and tackling your big question: What’s the difference?
Two thousand and seven would be a busy year for tech and coffee. In Cupertino, Apple unveiled the first iPhone. In Florence, La Marzocco released the GS/3. In Tokyo, James Hoffmann won the World Barista Championship.
And in Seattle… several industry veterans hammered away on an espresso machine that would later earn the name “Slayer”.
What possessed these guys to think that the world – especially this part of it – had room for another espresso machine? Though not plain to all eyes, a real need for a new machine took hold of them. And it wouldn’t let go.
They pictured a product that would bring cafes to life with stunning, inimitable design. They imagined a machine that would repair easily. They envisioned a UI that would inspire baristas to feel and perform like artists. And, most essentially, they innovated a means of making espresso that could preserve the inherent sweetness and maximize the potential viscosity of any coffee.
With Slayer, they introduced pressure profiling by means of flow control. It prepared coffee with unprecedented technology and presented the espresso experience with unmatched style. It still does.
Essential to Slayer’s ethos is a commitment to keep coffee-making in human hands. Intuitive design, analog control, and minimal automation help baristas get cozy with the coffee and see extraction all the way through.
Our taste for manual espresso prep found its footing in the function of Slayer’s unique grouphead. We resurrected the mechanical valve group – abandoned since La Marzocco’s G2 – to control flow rate and apply “flavor profiling”.
The V1 was a game-changer, but still we wondered: could we extend the lifespan of normally limited mechanical components? Confident, we set to work on V2.
Most of our efforts targeted the valve stem, which saw a total overhaul. The lifespan increased immediately and maintenance requirements thinned.
V2 updates weren’t limited to service tasks, though – there’s good news for those behind bar, too. With V2, the pre-brew timer feature made its debut. When engaged, baristas can take advantage of the pre-brew function without attending to as many brew actuator movements: Slayer will automatically switch between “pre-brew” and “brew”. (See it in action in this video!)
Additionally, the new Slayer permitted larger coffee doses, improved brew temperature reliability, stabilized pre-brew flow rate settings, lowered the drain tray, and more. Check out highlights below, or view the full lists of upgrades and retrofits.
What’s new with version 2?
- Redesigned and simplified needle valve assembly
- Improved temperature stability at dispersion block
- Increased portafilter headspace allows larger doses
- Redesigned valve stem minimizes wear, reduces maintenance, and prevents leaks
- Modified dispersion block ensures tighter seal against shower screen
- Redesigned plumbing and new 2-way valve increases reliability of needle valve
- The list goes on!
V3: Ad Infinitum
In a few short years, we had built the precedent for what Slayer Espresso could and would represent to the industry. This is a solid machine, built for the busiest cafes in the world, and it makes coffee in a completely new way. Now, we endeavored to make it flawless and make it last for years.
We looked again at where it all happens: the group. Still enamored with the analog interface, we weren’t about to do away with the paddle actuators. But we did rethink how they do what they do, and our rigorous tests began.
The day of the mechanical valve dimmed as a more reliable machine made its way into our imaginations: a machine that’s weakest link wasn’t in the group. And a group that would outlive most everything else.
Enter the electronic valve. Rubber, metal, and lube were replaced by smooth, gliding magnets. Drilled holes and wearable gaskets were replaced by a 3-way solenoid. Friction was replaced by electricity.
In doing so, the lifespan of Slayer’s group actuator shot up to over 1,000,000 cycles – 15 times longer than V2 and 50 times V1.
V3 updates included other functional and aesthetic improvements, too.
What’s new with version 3?
- Stretched brew group protrudes extra 1/2″
- Auto-bleeding brew and pre-heat tanks for steady flow and accurate temperature reading
- Redesigned steam actuators incur less wear and prevent loosening shoulder bolt
- Metric 3/8″ water line fitting for improved compatibility
- Redesigned hot water tap includes mixing valve and rotating wand
- Aluminum Xs standardized with silver powder coat
- Redesigned steam tips wands permit easy tip removal
- Enlarged drain tray (1″ more work space)
Etc: What’s Next?
Whatever shape our product takes, our trajectory is sure: Slayer designs professional equipment for serious coffee-lovers. Always enhancing our product, enchanting our clients, and expanding our reach, we’ve gained the kind of momentum that’s only possible with pure passion for our work.
And we’re not slowing down.