La Marzocco vs. Slayer: A Battle of Commercial Espresso Machines

La Marzocco and Slayer are two of the best espresso machine brands in the industry. They both produce excellent machines that pull killer shots — but they're also pretty different. 

So how do you know which is right for your cafe?

That's where we come in. In this article, we:

  • Give a brief overview of La Marzocco and Slayer
  • Break down the key differences between them
  • Help you pick an espresso machine that matches your business needs

Let’s get started.

La Marzocco At A Glance

La Marzocco makes exquisitely crafted machines that pull quality shots of espresso no matter how busy things get. It’s no wonder La Marzocco is often referred to by baristas as the Ferrari of espresso machines—the machines are both beautiful and powerful.

We’re going to compare La Marzocco and Slayer across three categories: history, reputation, and aesthetics. 

  • History: La Marzocco was established in 1927 by Giuseppe and Bruno Bambi in Florence, Italy. The company is steeped in espresso history and tradition, and known for spearheading numerous changes in espresso definitions and technology.
  • Reputation: Most of your baristas will probably have honed their craft on one of these machines. La Marzocco quickly built a reputation as a maker of high-quality, barista-friendly espresso machines that raise the bar on innovations—creating the first coffee machine with a horizontal boiler in 1939 and pushing boundaries ever since.
  • Aesthetics: Crafted in Italy, each of La Marzocco’s espresso machines is like a classical work of art, drawing their inspiration from Florentine Renaissance history.

La Marzocco has been the gold standard for espresso machines for decades. Here’s what Do Kim of RaonJena Coffee & Dessert had to say about the Linea Classic:

“The Linea Classic is a workhorse behind the bar and it is beloved by baristas, so much so that many of the other La Marzocco models are based on the original Linea Classic design. It is a machine that many first-time baristas used early on in their career and everyone seems to love it.” 

Next up, we’ll take a quick look at some of La Marzocco’s most popular commercial espresso machines.

The Breakdown: La Marzocco Espresso Machines



Starting Price

What’s Unique?

Best No-Frills La Marzocco Espresso Machine

La Marzocco Linea Classic


The gold standard of espresso machines—extremely durable

Best Value La Marzocco Espresso Machine

La Marzocco Linea PB


Auto-volumetric programming and digital screen displays

Best Classic Mid-Range La Marzocco Espresso Machine

La Marzocco GB5


Dual PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) functionality give full control over water temperature

Best For Training New Baristas

La Marzocco Strada


Conical valve and paddle give 100% water pressure and flow control to your baristas

Best Luxury La Marzocco Machine

La Marzocco KB90


Multi-boilers with individual temperature control and straight-in portafilter

Dive Deeper: The Best La Marzocco Espresso Machines: Linea, Linea PB, GB5, Strada, or KB90?

Slayer At A Glance

Slayer is relatively new to the world of coffee but has proven popular with baristas—you can now find the machines in coffee shops the world over. Here’s the rundown on this Seattle-based espresso machine company which aims to revolutionize the way we enjoy espresso:

  • History: Slayer might not have a history stretching back to 1920s Italy, but the company has already made a name for itself. Slayer launched in 2007 with one simple goal—to make the best machine for pulling a perfect shot of espresso, every time.
  • Reputation: Baristas who’ve worked on Slayer machines have nothing but praise. They’re known for advanced brewing features—like needle-valve technology—designed to maximize the taste of espresso. You simply can’t find such features in other commercial espresso machines.
  • Aesthetics: Slayer has designed all of its machines to brew great espresso—while looking good. The unique industrial aesthetic draws attention with its use of exposed metal and bold angles.

Here’s what Cydni Patterson, a coffee professional based in North Carolina, had to say about her experiences working with Slayer machines:

“When I say it’s like the Cadillac of espresso machines, that’s truly how I feel. There’s not a lot of discrepancy with the shots and shot flow, even when you’ve got back-to-back orders. I move pretty quickly and efficiently on the bar, and the Slayer machine maintains consistency for back-to-back shots. It’s been my experience that Slayer machines don’t have a lot of water-flow discrepancies or temperature fluctuations.”

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of Slayer’s flagship coffee machines:

The Breakdown: Slayer’s Espresso Machines



Starting Price

What’s Unique?

Most Approachable Slayer Espresso Machine

Slayer Single Group


Independent brew and steam tanks, plus electronic V3 grouphead rated to 1 million cycles

Best Value Slayer Espresso Machine

Slayer Steam EP


1-4 second puck soak programming to reduce channeling of your shot

Best Barista-Approved Slayer Espresso Machine

Slayer Steam LP


Able to record volumetric output and repeat recipes using a paddle actuator

Best Artisan Slayer Espresso Machine

Slayer Espresso v3


This model allows for flavor profiling using a 3-position brew actuator

Dive Deeper: A Barista's Review of the Slayer Steam LP Espresso Machine 

Slayer vs. La Marzocco: A Side-By-Side Comparison

Contact us and we'll help you further identify the best espresso machine for your unique circumstances—it's what we're here for!

1. The Philosophy Of Design

One of the clearest differences between La Marzocco and Slayer is their design philosophies. These alternate visions for the world of coffee inform every aspect of the companies’ machines and account for a lot of their differences.

Long story short, Slayer is interested in coffee and baristas, and less interested in the latest advances in coffee technology (e.g., pumps, interfaces, and other electronic doodads). “Our joy is in the coffee, not the machine,” says Eric Perkunder, one of Slayer’s founders. “Our delight is more akin to that of the old-timey carpenter who delights in his 50-year-old [hand] plane. Not because it’s techy, but because it is so brilliantly useful.”

La Marzocco takes design queues from baristas. This Italian company has been working side-by-side with coffee industry professionals for 90 years in an effort to create machines that blend engineering, ergonomics, and high-quality materials to deliver coffee excellence.

As we hinted at, these differences take a more concrete form in each company’s attitude to technology.

2. Technology

Whether you prefer a La Marzocco or a Slayer comes down to your attitude toward technology and coffee culture.

La Marzocco is at the forefront of the coffee tech revolution—creating the first coffee machine with horizontal boilers and not looking back since. In recent times, the company has invested heavily in technology such as pressure profiling which allows you to express different flavors in your shot by varying brewing pressure during the extraction phase. This can produce a softer espresso that highlights the more delicate and sweeter notes in a shot.

Slayer is less interested in pressure profiling, water lines or pumps, and integrated computers. Slayer machines allow skilled baristas to pull excellent artisan coffee by hand. The machines only have a single pump and PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) to control water elements. The design philosophy of people over technology means Slayer machines have the bare minimum. 

Despite using less technology Slayer machines do have a learning curve—baristas need to know exactly what they’re doing at all stages of the extraction or they can mess up the shot. But with the technology of a La Marzocco you can dial in a shot recipe and be confident of consistent shots all day.

3. Needle Valve

One unique feature of Slayer machines is their patented needle-valve technology. This allows you to reduce the flow rate during pre-brewing.

Instead of pressure profiling, needle-valve technology controls the water flow rate, while the pump pressure remains the same. The valve is fully accessible while dialing in your coffee (under the cup warming tray).

This allows for longer pre-infusion and soft saturation of the coffee grounds. That means you can grind finer and get higher extraction with less bitter notes—but you’ll need an excellent grinder to take advantage of this.

What’s The Best Commercial Espresso Machine For You?

Both La Marzocco and Slayer are excellent commercial espresso machines that pull perfect shots under the most trying of circumstances.

But the right coffee machine for your business depends on you. Do you prefer being at the vanguard of coffee technology advances or do you lean toward a traditionalist approach?

How skilled are your baristas? La Marzocco machines have the technology that can make training a new barista that much easier. Slayer’s machines and needle valve technology allow expert baristas to get a lot out of specialty beans—but that’s not to say La Marzocco espresso machines aren’t capable of pulling an exquisite shot.

In the battle between La Marzocco and Slayer, it all comes down to how you feel about the role of technology in coffee. Thinking about getting a Slayer or La Marzocco? Don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team is on hand and ready to help you find the right machine for your coffee business.

Contact us and we'll help you further identify the best espresso machine for your unique circumstances—it's what we're here for!