The hand-built Slayer espresso machine is not brandspankinew, but it is still exceedingly uncommon—fewer than 20 exist in coffee shops—and this one, residing at freshly opened RBC NYC, is the first east of Michigan. It costs $18,000.
The reason coffee nerds are hyped about the Slayer isn't just because it's obscenely expensive, or because of the way wood meshes with contoured metal to create a hulking, beautiful gadget, but mostly because of the way it allows a barista to easily play with pressure to do some interesting things—like start with a low pressure extraction, ramp up to full pressure, then back it down to get different textures or flavors—using the wooden paddles on top of the groupheads that adjust the mechanical valves which control water flow, which is what's unique about the machine. (More on the Slayer and pressure here, and more of our own espresso coverage and explainers here and here.)
It's somewhat finicky, and different from other espresso machines that RBC's director of coffee (yes, that's her title) said it took her two months to really master the machine. Interestingly, they're testing out using the Slayer to do brewed coffee, to create something really different, but they're not sure when they're gonna offer it up. For now though, they're pulling some of the best espresso shots in New York, at least judging by the two drinks I've had. [Slayer, RBC NYC, Full-Size Photos]