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Thread: Tamping - To polish or not?

  1. #1
    Rbn
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    Tamping - To polish or not?

    I have looked at a video on Tamping, near the end of the video the presenter says not to polish.

    The video came up on a link put up by Pulman.

    I wonder what others think.
    I have modified my tamping process as a result, not just in not polishing, but also in how hard I tamp.

    On my EM6910, the pressure gauge goes to the beginning of the red, and I get a good dark pour before it lightens up.
    I use a double basket, with the single shot button.
    Seems good to me.

    But then I am not an expert, I just know what I like.
    Others seem to like it too, or they are just being polite!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    If you are going to 'polish', do so with minimal pressure, otherwise you run a greater risk of buggering up all the hard work you did with your distribution and tamping.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    I think it falls into the same category as tamping pressure - within certain bounds, it doesn't really matter as long as you're consistent.

    It's interesting seeing videos on social media where highly regarded professional baristas appear to polish with serious pressure still applied. Doesn't make it right, but it seems surprisingly common.

    Personally I always give a polish with no pressure applied, more out of habit more than anything else.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    I polish! although as Barry and Matt say probably 6 of one and half a dozen of another, I doubt it makes much difference.

    As a matter of interest I also polish the base of my tamper to a mirror finish, makes the whole process very smooth and nothing sticks to the tamper base.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member LFM60's Avatar
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    One of these will rule out the need to polish......

    IMG_0720.JPG
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  6. #6
    Member GunBarista's Avatar
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    I polish.
    I generally drag my thumb and index along between the tamper base and the basket edge to gauge whether my tamp was leveled or not.
    Although not the most accurate of techniques, but it became a habit of mine.

    Dare I say it, but all that really matters is whether YOU like the coffee or not - polish or no polish

  7. #7
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I polish!
    Oh I actually polish as well (out of habit I guess)....I'm just careful about how I do it

  8. #8
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GunBarista View Post
    I polish.
    I generally drag my thumb and index along between the tamper base and the basket edge to gauge whether my tamp was leveled or not.
    Although not the most accurate of techniques, but it became a habit of mine.

    Dare I say it, but all that really matters is whether YOU like the coffee or not - polish or no polish
    Amen!

    I do something similar to gauge whether the tamp was level, but couldn't think how to describe it - it's just the vibe
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  9. #9
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Me? Never been a polisher...

    Always used great quality Pullman Tampers with highly polished bases so never found the need...

    Mal.

  10. #10
    Senior Member LFM60's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    ...............it's just the vibe.
    Sounding like Dennis Denuto there MM.

    https://youtu.be/wJuXIq7OazQ

  11. #11
    Senior Member 2muchcoffeeman's Avatar
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    In a past life, I spent a bit of time at the odd gig working beside some blokes (Scotty, Dave, Paul) who knew how to pull a shot or two- watching and learning...

    Dave suggested that for the sake of consistency, not to "d!ck around with the puck too much" and I ditched polishing at that point and have never felt a need to go back. Probably doesn't matter so long as the polish doesn't include more heft that the mass of the tamper.
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  12. #12
    Member GunBarista's Avatar
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    What ever you want to do, do it consistently.

    Otherwise, get yourself a Puqpress and eliminate the need to question whether your tamping is effecting your brew or not and move on to working on other variables.
    .... If only we all have $1,500 to spend for an auto-temper for a home setup :P

    and no, I'm not a fan of the Puqpress, I just thought I'd throw in another medium

  13. #13
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman View Post
    In a past life, I spent a bit of time at the odd gig working beside some blokes (Scotty, Dave, Paul) who knew how to pull a shot or two- watching and learning...

    Dave suggested that for the sake of consistency, not to "d!ck around with the puck too much" and I ditched polishing at that point and have never felt a need to go back. Probably doesn't matter so long as the polish doesn't include more heft that the mass of the tamper.
    A few years ago I went to the Nuova Simonelli factory after being at HOST in Milan.

    They were demonstrating the new Aurelia II and going through the features. One of their demonstrations included showing how efficient their pre infusion system was and the difference in extraction quality between a tamped extraction and a non tamped extraction.

    Guess what the difference was no where near as great as you would expect!

    The key is consistency in what you do, if you want to use 10 psi pressure with a half twist then that is fine. If you use a light tamp to even out the dose and make sure there is no air pockets then that is fine as well.

    Its a combination of grind, dose and tamp. Keep them consistent and the results will come

    Cheers

    Antony

  14. #14
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casa Espresso View Post

    The key is consistency in what you do, if you want to use 10 psi pressure with a half twist then that is fine. If you use a light tamp to even out the dose and make sure there is no air pockets then that is fine as well.

    Its a combination of grind, dose and tamp. Keep them consistent and the results will come

    Cheers

    Antony
    It's a logical message that is repeated constantly, for some reason a lot of people simply don't hear it.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casa Espresso View Post
    ... the difference in extraction quality between a tamped extraction and a non tamped extraction.

    Guess what the difference was no where near as great as you would expect!
    Was it Matt Perger that someone described a while back as demonstrating tamping with the flat of his palm - and producing perfect extractions?

    Either way, clearly a $200 tamper isn't necessary in a domestic setting. But it's nice bling

  16. #16
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    Was it Matt Perger that someone described a while back as demonstrating tamping with the flat of his palm - and producing perfect extractions?

    Either way, clearly a $200 tamper isn't necessary in a domestic setting. But it's nice bling
    Yes it was, tells you something doesn't it? There are no special rules on pressures or twists, only one, the density of the grind in the group handle needs to be consistent. How you achieve that is your option


    Antony

  17. #17
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    Was it Matt Perger that someone described a while back as demonstrating tamping with the flat of his palm - and producing perfect extractions?

    Either way, clearly a $200 tamper isn't necessary in a domestic setting. But it's nice bling
    I recall some time back posting that you could tamp with a round pickle jar lid attached to 100mm of broom handle and get a good result, don't think many took me seriously.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I recall some time back posting that you could tamp with a round pickle jar lid attached to 100mm of broom handle and get a good result, don't think many took me seriously.
    TBH, that would probably be an improvement over the Sunbeam tamper I used for years!
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  19. #19
    Senior Member 2muchcoffeeman's Avatar
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    And with great dose and distribution, it's perfectly possible to not tamp at all and still get a great channel free pour.... Try it

  20. #20
    Senior Member LFM60's Avatar
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    Our local coffee shop, and no doubt many others, uses a tamper design similar to a bench drill arrangement shown below.

    For a shop making 3 to 400 coffees a day, it would be better I guess, from a wrist fatigue point of view.

    I wonder if it would be easier to get a good strong downward pressure with something like this, especially for arthritis sufferers? There should be consistency with being level every time as long as the PF is held level.

    They are most likely expensive..........

    image.jpeg
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  21. #21
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    I use a mechanical tamper 'press' like that above these days... A Macap one as it happens.

    Recently, my family bought it for me after they discovered I was considering moving away from espresso because my hands were giving me so much trouble. Tamping consistently was becoming a nightmare. This takes that variable out of the equation completely and makes life a lot simpler around the coffee bench...

    Mal.

  22. #22
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LFM60 View Post
    I wonder if it would be easier to get a good strong downward pressure with something like this, especially for arthritis sufferers? There should be consistency with being level every time as long as the PF is held level.
    Yes, yes, and yes.

    They are most likely expensive..........
    They can be, but you can get them for not to bad a price if you shop around and have a bit of luck. I got a brand new one for not much more than a custom tamper goes for, all because the retailer thought it was broken. In point of fact all it needed was a simple adjustment.


    Java "It pays to be techy" phile
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    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

  23. #23
    Member GunBarista's Avatar
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    Tamping - To polish or not?

    You guys are so old school....

    Look mum! No hands!

    Quote Originally Posted by GunBarista View Post
    What ever you want to do, do it consistently.

    Otherwise, get yourself a Puqpress
    https://www.puqpress.com.au

    Here's one of my setups for when things get too busy:

    IMG_7204 (1).jpg
    Last edited by GunBarista; 7th February 2017 at 09:40 PM.
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    I don’t have a fancy automatic tamper, just a plain old tamper stuck on the end of my arm.

    While tamping I often use a form of nutating where instead of spinning the tamper I rock it with a circular motion to break up clumping and even out the coffee. A little polish can be done at the end. It works.

    Barry
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  25. #25
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LFM60 View Post
    Our local coffee shop, and no doubt many others, uses a tamper design similar to a bench drill arrangement shown below.

    For a shop making 3 to 400 coffees a day, it would be better I guess, from a wrist fatigue point of view.

    I wonder if it would be easier to get a good strong downward pressure with something like this, especially for arthritis sufferers? There should be consistency with being level every time as long as the PF is held level.

    They are most likely expensive..........

    image.jpeg
    Yes that's a Macap CPS dynamic tamper. Maybe not my cup of tea but ideal when you need consistency (there's that word again) when you have multiple staff with different skill sets on the coffee machine.

    We have supplied a number of these to the BP Cafes in their service stations

    Cheers

    Antony

  26. #26
    Rbn
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    Many thanks for all those responses.

    I tried no polishing, couldn't see any difference in the shot, or taste any difference in the coffee,
    so I will sitck with the no polish, "so I don't dick around with it!"
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  27. #27
    Senior Member ArtW's Avatar
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    In my opinion tamping is the most over-rated variable in coffee making with dose and distribution the most under-rated. I polish but I don't think it makes a jot of difference.
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  28. #28
    Junior Member Heston's Avatar
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    I believe polishing risks disturbing the puck while adding zero benefit, especially when using a sharp edge tamper. I've recently shifted away from polishing with positive results.
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  29. #29
    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman View Post
    And with great dose and distribution, it's perfectly possible to not tamp at all and still get a great channel free pour.... Try it
    Left my tamper at work today and got home really wanting a coffee. Was mighty distraught, then remembered this post. First tamp free shot was a killer, nice 30 seconds pour, no mess with the naked. So good I tried to video another attempt to gloat. The next one wasn't great, ran a bit fast but still pretty good considering one handed dose and distribution! I'll try post the video later, internet here is atrocious

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heston View Post
    adding zero benefit,
    One benefit .... It looks pretty! Lovely and flat!
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    I had a bit of a laugh the other day. The tamper base must have gotten wet, and when I finished tamping, the entire, perfectly shaped puck came out stuck to the bottom of the tamper :-)

    Regards,

    Matt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    TBH, that would probably be an improvement over the Sunbeam tamper I used for years!
    Hey! I'm still using the SB!!! Which is why I polish (just by spinning the tamper with no pressure on the puck). I find the SB doesn't quite go all the way to the edge of my VST basket so polishing seems to consolidate and pick up those few stray fines around the edge . Who knows if it makes any difference - probably not, but it's part of my standard routine and is done pretty much due to muscle memory these days.

    Interesting comment about the 'no tamp'. I've recently changed grinders (M4D) which provides a much more consistent grind to what I had before. I've found I don't need to tamp anywhere near as hard and my extractions are the same - actually better. I've even tried going half-way to a 'no-tamp' - basically, grind into the basket, tap the PF on the mat and just rest the tamper on the puck with no pressure and then extract. Extraction was just as good.

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    Matt Perger strongly recommended not to polish in his blog a while ago. Primary reason, it seems, was there is no benefit to polishing, but it introduced another step that surprisingly often messed up the puck.

    High risk, no reward, so he says 'don't polish'.

    It took me while to stop polishing. I just did it by habit. Anyway, I now have fewer pucks 'damaged' by polishing.

    He also apologised for promoting nutating and he says it's not a good idea. Very difficult to get consistency, if nutating. And a very consistent message in this thread is "consistency in puck preparation".
    Last edited by dlight; 6th May 2017 at 10:17 AM.
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  34. #34
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dlight View Post
    Matt Perger strongly recommended not to tamp in his blog a while ago. Primary reason, it seems, was there is no benefit, but it introduced another step that surprisingly often messed up the puck.

    High risk, no reward, so he says 'don't polish'..
    Interesting, despite the recommendation, he still has a web page devoted to tamping, I see nothing there suggesting we stop the evil practice

    https://baristahustle.com/blogs/bari.../tagged/tamper

    I also note his Pergtamp is almost a direct copy of one of Reg Barbers original and best tampers.


    Reg Barber Tall Bubinga. Pergtamp
    Last edited by Yelta; 6th May 2017 at 10:53 AM.
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  35. #35
    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    If you read a little more carefully, you'll note that dlight meant 'not to polish' rather than 'not to tamp'....

  36. #36
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by readeral View Post
    If you read a little more carefully, you'll note that dlight meant 'not to polish' rather than 'not to tamp'....
    Morning Al, yep, fair enough, point taken.

    Regardless, the whole tamping process gets way more attention than it deserves, seems grinding, dosing and tamping is a process bordering on the dark arts for some.

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  37. #37
    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Interesting, despite the recommendation, he still has a web page devoted to tamping, I see nothing there suggesting we stop the evil practice

    https://baristahustle.com/blogs/bari.../tagged/tamper

    I also note his Pergtamp is almost a direct copy of one of Reg Barbers original and best tampers.


    Reg Barber Tall Bubinga. Pergtamp

    You managed to post the same image twice for your comparison - I think this might have been what you were actually looking for pullman-tamper.gif.

    The image from that link you posted can be found in context here: https://twitter.com/mattperger/statu...06476095344641
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  38. #38
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Thanks Al, will rectify.

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    Sorry, my error, I wrote that at a very silly hour of the morning. I've updated my prior post. I meant to say:
    "Matt Perger strongly recommended not to polish when tamping, in his blog a while ago. Primary reason, it seems, was there is no benefit to polishing, ..."

    His Pergtamp is certainly not a copy of the Reg Barber tamper. It was designed strictly for the VST basket, with an exceptionally snug fit. Too snug, in fact. If the VST basket is dinged at all, the tamp won't fit. The tamp also has an exceptionally sharp edge. This is very different to the Reg Barber tampers. The Pergtamp was actually made by Pullman. I don't believe that Pullman would be associated with copying anyone and certainly not Reg Barber.

    I understand that this tamp has been discontinued. Reasons - the one mentioned above (won't fit into the VST if at all dinged), too expensive and it shared a problem experienced by all tight fitting tampers - if you remove the tamper from the basket too quickly, a vacuum forms under the tamper base which causes the puck to lift. If the puck lifts, you are almost guaranteed channelling. So the failure of these types of tampers, is that by trying to get the perfect puck surface (to reduce the likelihood of channelling), they have introduced an increased risk of channelling. Perger has now released a new range of tampers that he has manufactured without any middlemen. Price is way cheaper, $50.

    I have personal experience with these tampers. I have a Reg Barber tamper (brass base). It is beautiful to look at, but I don't use it. It just doesn't feel balanced to me. It also doesn't fit the basket at all well. 58mm tamper base in a VST basket - too sloppy. My Pulman tamper is wonderful - well balanced, fits the basket perfectly and has a lovely 'feel' with the rubber at the point your fingers touch the base.

    I'm happy to spend money supporting the innovators in this coffee industry. I've tried many different tampers, the OCD device from Sasa Sestic, and more recently distribution tool designed by Denis Baseric from Kafetek. I've also just received a Kafetek Conical grinder. A beautiful piece of craftsmanship. The attention to detail and care in manufacturing is something to see. And he started this from home, because there are no quality commercial grinders that can truly single dose. He made a grinder for himself to his personal specification and the market came to him. It's a great story. And he is a true craftsman. And of course, I've committed to purchase one of Decent Espresso's machines - what an innovation! He is discovering stuff that the existing 'market leaders' haven't bothered trying to find out. I'm really hoping his business succeeds - he deserves it. And I feel he deserves my support.

    We are very lucky to have a great and thriving coffee industry in Australia. We have a number of leaders emerging from Australia. I believe Sasa Sestic and Matt Perger deserve our support. And so do Denis Baseric and John Buckman for their innovation.

    Yelta, You really don't seem to like innovation and leaders who are prepared to standup and do something different, or is this my imagination?
    Last edited by dlight; 6th May 2017 at 12:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by readeral View Post
    If you read a little more carefully, you'll note that dlight meant 'not to polish' rather than 'not to tamp'....
    Al, thanks for picking this up! I've updated my post and made a further post.

  41. #41
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dlight View Post
    Sorry, my error, I wrote that at a very silly hour of the morning. I've updated my prior post. I meant to say:
    "Matt Perger strongly recommended not to polish when tamping, in his blog a while ago. Primary reason, it seems, was there is no benefit to polishing, ..."

    His Pergtamp is certainly not a copy of the Reg Barber tamper. It was designed strictly for the VST basket, with an exceptionally snug fit. Too snug, in fact. If the VST basket is dinged at all, the tamp won't fit. The tamp also has an exceptionally sharp edge. This is very different to the Reg Barber tampers. The Pergtamp was actually made by Pullman. I don't believe that Pullman would be associated with copying anyone and certainly not Reg Barber.

    You really don't seem to like innovation and leaders who are prepared to standup and do something different, or is this my imagination?
    Morning dlight,

    I agree, there is certainly no need, polish, don't polish, makes little difference, FWIW I'm a polisher, takes little effort, does no harm and to me seems to complete the job.

    Pullman and Perger copied Reg Barbers products shamelessly (as did many other manufacturers)

    I have no problem with genuine innovation, most of what we see now is little more than tinkering with previously developed concepts i.e. a sharp edge on a tamper or variation of diameter are little more than refinements of the original design, the Reg Barber Tall Bubinga also has a sharp edge and yes, he will machine the base to your required diameter in 1/10th mm increments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Morning dlight,
    I have no problem with genuine innovation, most of what we see now is little more than tinkering with previously developed concepts ...
    Wow, you do have a very narrow view of what innovation is!

    "Innovation generally refers to changing processes or creating more effective processes, products and ideas"

    Most innovation are small improvements on what has gone on before. It does not mean "new", "entirely different". What on earth does "genuine innovation" mean? Sounds like a motherhood to me.

    Do you really think that Reg Barber came up with that style of tamper. His innovation was to come up with one that was relatively balanced to use, in comparison to those preceding his design. The basis of the design existed long before Reg Barber came up with it. By your definition, his is simply a copy of something before him. He was a plagiarist, by your definition. Which, of course he wasn't. He "created a more effective product" - that was his innovation, as is Pullman's and Perger's. And Pullman and Perger are Australian's who standout from the crowd. Sounds like "tall poppy syndrome" to me.

    On with 'sparking things up' ...

  43. #43
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Did Reg Barber invent the coffee tamper?
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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    Did Reg Barber invent the coffee tamper?
    Good thing we've only been making espresso for 20 years.

  45. #45
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    Did Reg Barber invent the coffee tamper?
    Nope.

    Prior to Reg developing his tampers we had an assortment of basic plastic and metal tampers.
    This taken from the Reg Barber site, cant post a link as it's commercial.

    "
    EXCEPTIONAL, INNOVATIVE COFFEE TAMPERS
    Over 20 years ago, Reg Barber was inspired to create a better coffee tamper after using a flimsy, plastic tamper. Today, he is known as the man who revolutionized the coffee tamper into a modern, must-have piece of equipment for every barista. His coffee journey began in 1995 when he decided to open his own café, and went to Seattle, Washington for training. During his training, he was introduced to the existing tools for tamping coffee, but they were either poorly designed plastic tampers, or aluminum cylinders that were awkward and uncomfortable to use. Reg knew he could make a better tamper, and when he returned home to his workshop in Victoria, British Columbia he began designing what would become the modern tamper."

  46. #46
    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    BeanScene has an article attributing him to the first "two part" tampers, and so the first to offer a wooden handle.

  47. #47
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by readeral View Post
    BeanScene has an article attributing him to the first "two part" tampers, and so the first to offer a wooden handle.
    Recently?

    Found this https://www.beanscenemag.com.au/arti...-for-our-times

  48. #48
    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Nah, 2011: The Tamper King

  49. #49
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by readeral View Post
    Nah, 2011: The Tamper King
    Thanks, interesting read.

  50. #50
    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    The irony is that you posted it 3 years ago here on CoffeeSnobs.
    matth3wh likes this.

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