When you’re trying to get your espresso grounds into the machine, you want to make sure you’re getting an even pack so you can get a quality shot.
An espresso tamper is a tool that helps you easily do this. The goal is to make the grounds tightly compressed and there are different tampers out there, this review will help you in choosing the best.
Why Buy Espresso Tampers?
Proper tamping is needed to get a quality shot and the science behind it explains why this is so.
Water has to get through the coffee ground-filled basket during brewing and if they’re not properly tamped, some sections will be left without water.
This distribution is necessary to produce coffee with a more pronounced flavour. Coffee grounds can swell and escape the basket when water is added but tamping keeps them in there so this is another benefit though a minor one.
A very important part of tamping is determining the pressure to apply to your grounds, too little or too much and you don’t get the full flavour of your coffee.
30 pounds is the ideal pressure needed to be applied and a calibrated tamper is designed to deliver exactly that so you don’t have to guess the right pressure to apply.
This is the most common tamper type out there. They’re also called handle tampers and have a flat bottom with a knob-like handle finished with rubber, wood or metal.
The handles give you a good grip during tamping and are preferred by professional baristas that prefer a more hands-on approach.
Traditional tampers have a base and a handle, dual-head tampers have two heads so there’s a base at each end and a handle between both, the bases are usually of different sizes.
It’s so-called because it looks like an actual hockey puck, so it has a very short handle with a flat or convex base. Some baristas have said its design provides for more stability.
It has a similar design with the puck tamper, short handle with a base attached but looks nothing like a hockey puck and tamping is done mainly with the palms.
Size Of Base
Tamping is done with the base on your portafilter basket so if you have a base that’s too wide, you can’t do it properly.
It’s easy to do this by looking at your espresso machine to get the size of the basket yours came with, this information can be in the manual too, basket size is usually graded in millimetres.
A good tamper is one you’re comfortable handling, they come in different weights so you may need to compare weights when buying online or place on a scale when buying offline.
Tamper handles and bases can be made with steel, rubber, wood or even gold, so you can get a tamper that serves as a useful accessory during brewing and also a work of art on your shelf.
Best Espresso Tamper: Reviews & Recommendations
BlueSnail Stainless Steel Coffee Tamper
This is stainless steel tamper with a 51mm base size so this is something you can use on your fresh coffee grounds.
You should confirm that your portafilter basket size is compatible with this but 51mm tampers are compatible with most espresso machines so you shouldn’t have a problem with this.
It weighs 570g and its iron build is responsible for this so you may have a problem with it if you prefer lighter tampers.
Its stainless steel look gives it a stylish finish but it’s not unibody so you can separate the handle from its base.
LuxHaus Calibrated Pressure Tamper
The LuxHaus tamper comes in four base sizes, 49mm, 51mm, 53mm, and 58mm so you should get one that’s compatible with your espresso machine.
Calibrated pressures apply consistent pressure so the grounds appear even, and its round handle makes this very comfortable.
Its stainless steel build also serves as a safety feature so metal shrapnels don’t get into your coffee while tamping. It’s spring-loaded so not something you can take apart.
HIC Harold Import Co. 43739 Dual-Sided Espresso Tamper
The HIC piece is a dual-sided tamper so it has two bases you can use for tamping. One end measures 50mm and the other measures 55mm.
It has both polycarbonate and aluminum profiles, making it resistant to the corrosive substances in coffee and easy to clean and maintain.
RSVP Terry’s Dual Sided Espresso Tamper
If you’re in the market for a budget tamper, this is something you should look at.
It’s a dual-sided tamper made with heavy-duty aluminum which resists corrosion from coffee and has a 51mm and 58mm-sized base on each side.
It’s easy to clean and maintain.
Benicci Espresso Coffee Tamper
The Benicci tamper weighs 1.4 lbs so it has a heavy build. It’s a professionally built unibody tamper with a 58mm convex base.
It’s made of stainless steel so there’s little chance of ending up with a rust-filled coffee.
It’s perfect for both home and commercial use so you can use it when you want to fix a quick cup of coffee or when working as a barista in a café.
Q: What’s the best technique to use while tamping?
A: Hold the tamper handle while it’s in the portafilter with only your thumb, index and middle finger. With your arm making a right-angle (90°) and your forearm directed towards the portafilter, push the handle into the grounds.
Q: What’s the right amount of pressure to apply
A: Calibrated tampers were made for this reason, people wanted to be sure they were applying the right pressure, 30 pounds which is the standard setting for calibrated tampers is the sweet spot.
If you feel anything between 20-30 lbs of resistance, you’re doing it right, once you begin experiencing some strain, you know you’re applying too much pressure.
There are two things you need to do while tamping, making sure the portafilter is fixed and applying consistent pressure.
There are a lot of things that could affect the application of that pressure, poor tamper handles and inappropriate base sizes are two of them and you can get the tampers that handle these specs in this review.