Here’s a long overdue post on SCAA…and the infamous Slayer Espresso Machine you’ve heard me talking about all day…
For most of my life, Buffy was the Chosen one…the Slayer…yet last year, I was introduced to a different kind of Slayer…no, not the band…but an Espresso Machine…The Slayer…ooh!
I was at SCAA in Anaheim last April with some friends, walking around, drinking coffee, hanging out, drinking more coffee, enjoying some competitions, and just taking it all in, coffee rockstars everywhere you looked! I’ve never denied the fact that I’m a coffee doofus, but SCAA was like Coffee Disneyland! I loved it!
My press pass granted me admittance throughout the whole convention and it wasn’t until Day 2 when I actually stopped at the Slayer booth. I thought it was just a machine or something, there were a lot of people displaying machines at SCAA. Yet on that day, something was different. The fact that Gwilym Davies was there using the machine logically made me think this machine was kind of special. Too shy, and too much of a coffee doofus to approach Gwilym…I just watched this infamous World Barista Champ at work.
It wasn’t until hours later that I actually came back to the booth and noticed that each time I walked by the booth, there was different coffee out and different baristas pulling shots…
At some point, it was getting late, and it was either now or never. In front of the machine (among other bags) they had Bull Run Roasting Company Dogwood Espresoo from Minneapolis, MN. Sure. Why not. It took me a while to work up the nerve to approach the barista, but he was very nice and ended up pulling me a shot of this espresso.
It turns out his name is Keith Mrotek and he works at Bull Run in MN. Awesome. And he also knows how to use a Slayer machine because he pulled me the most memorable shot of espresso I have ever had in my life. Even watching the process was an experience.
The Slayer machine is beautiful.
I never knew if it was the Dogwood Espresso or the machine that left me with a case of the coffee jitters…or maybe it was because I had been drinking coffee all day…but I’ve always remembered that shot. It was strong. It was great. It was a memorable way to end my experience at SCAA.
It was after SCAA that I learned more about just what the Slayer is. It isn’t just a pretty machine…they are pretty rare. I’ve read conflicting reports, but its probably safe to say that only about 20-40 exist…and only a few of those exist in the United States…and they cost about $18,000. I was reading an article on Serious Eats, in which the owner of Vivace was quoted as saying that “the action and wooden paddles give the feel of being at the helm of a fine yacht” – fancy, huh? Having said that, it takes serious training to learn how to use a Slayer. Ever since then, I’ve been following @espressoslayer on Twitter, and I like to read their blog because they update somewhat frequently. On their own site they describe the Slayer like this:
Slayer is a powerful Industrial Craft-built machine with virtually endless steam capacity plus brew temperature stability on multiple groups even during maximum volume use. Steam and brew systems are supplied with preconditioned water at 180 degrees F. All heating is provided by fail-resistant incoloy elements. Temperature control is maintained by purpose-tuned PID. Slayer’s brewing system includes both mechanical and electronic components to enable discreet pressure control across the brew band.
As a coffee doofus, I have no idea what that means. Then again, besides SCAA, where Slayer had a booth, I had yet to ever see one in the wild. Until I went to Portland two months ago and on my first night, after walking a few blocks in the rain, I came across Public Domain. I had actually gotten a bag of Public Domain coffee at SCAA, and had enjoyed it, so it was nice to visit their shop.