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Ross Quail talks all things Slayer Espresso

Tell us about why you came on board with Slayer and why the brand is endearing to people.

When I first came on board with Slayer, I came on deliberately because I felt the brand had such broad awareness, acceptance, however it needed greater levels of support to help it realise its potential. Some of that was RnD and technical stuff from a factory level, some of it was in the people that they needed just like any organisation that grows to allow the business to become what it is.

The best comparison I can give you is something like Alpha Romeo cars - they were beautifully romantic cars, but they just broke down or they had issues. The thing is, people still loved them, and there aren’t many brands that have the ability to still command attention and care and acceptance, but still let people down, so there must be something etherial about the brand, and I certainly felt that Slayer had that. The people that have Slayers, swear that this is the only machine they will ever have, and that’s something that doesn’t happen everyday. 

I know people who just won’t change from V2 Slayer machines. There’s a customer I know of - Anthony at Overdose Specialty Coffee in NSW- who is obsessed with his machine. He looks forward to his three month rebuilds like he’s working on his car. It’s a passion project for him.

Why does he love it?

He loves it because he understands the flow of water in the machine - to him it’s almost alive. He knows the nuance, he knows how it operates and he feels connected to the machine through his coffee. So he will understand why and how something is happening and he gets gratification out of that. Whereas he’s not in a situation whereby the machine is a big mess internally - if you can understand basic engineering, you can work out how the machine works. What you’ll find is that there's an innovation and an elegant simplicity that goes into Slayer machines, and people really enjoy working with them. 

The Slayer hallmark is to figure out an incredibly simple way to solve a complex problem. 

Can you tell us about one of your first interactions with Padre?

One of my first experiences was meeting Padre’s Founder Marinus. He is an extremely considered individual who treated coffee in an uncomplicated way. He knew that he was in there to serve people efficiently and he was one of the people that was trying to make a business that was successful, tackle coffee in a way that was how people wanted to drink it and at the same time, give value and increase that value over time. Padre was very considered about the way they expressed their brand and how they went about it - there’s was a certain discipline to it. 

At that time in the industry, everyone was still trying to figure out what their vibe was, how they were going to do it, everyone was experimenting and evolving really quickly. Those who were drawn to Padre liked Padre because you were guaranteed a consistent, measured experience and there was a clear plan behind the business to grow successfully.

What’s the coolest piece of tech that you’ve seen with Slayer?

It’s a toss up between the Steam EP and the Steam LP. To me, the Steam EP is the most commercially evolved machine on the market at this point in time.

What works and what stands the test of time is the experiences that are cultivated by using that machine, by people. If people genuinely enjoy their coffee making experience and it suits their business, they will stay with that machine. We’ve seen that with V2 espressos and I certainly hope that it’s the case with EP’s.

Our industry takes all types, but I think what Slayer is doing is proving that it understands the needs of people that want to buy machines and when you look at our machines you will gravitate towards the one that best meets your needs, rather than feeling as though you’ll need the one that’s going to validate you as a person. All of them are beautiful looking machines - there is not the entry level machine, there is only one that best fits your purpose. 

What are two things you think new cafe or equipment owners need to know?

First and foremost, you may have a wonderful product, but if the people you’re intending to market to are not present or there in sufficient numbers - irrespective of how successful your business is - you may be facing financial hardship. So do your homework!

The second one is understand that you’re going to need to be heavily invested in it personally, emotionally and physically, because that business is the result of the energy you put into it. Hospitality is probably one of the least hands off industries you can get into, because it is multi-disciplined.

Who is your coffee hero/heroine?

There’s probably lots of them. In coffee judging, Ricki Delroo, who’s a Belgian/Guatemalan judge, she’s amazing. In the World Barista Championships, I learnt so much from her, from the way she views and interprets things. The first hospitality business that I worked in was for a lady called Kathy Roff in Geelong. I was working the bar, so she was really seminal in my experience in hospitality.