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Thread: newbie tamper question.

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    newbie tamper question.

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    hi. just wondering whether a less than perfect fitting tamper is going to make any difference at the end of the the cup? cheers.

  2. #2
    senior member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Re: newbie tamper question.

    Ideally you want it to be a pretty good fit - risk being that if its a bit smaller than the width of the basket your tamp pressure around the perimeter may not be consistent - thus making it easier for the water to pass through this area of less resistance (channelling) - when this occurs you will see a difference in the cup, often the extraction will be too quick resulting in sour notes. Some manufactures such as Greg Pullman (site sponsor) will custom make tamper to fit your basket, so best starting point is to find out the width of your basket which does vary across brands... ;)

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Re: newbie tamper question.

    Quote Originally Posted by 3936233F32656564570 link=1235569249/0#0 date=1235569249
    short answer....not really. Its a bit late...i will revisit this topic and give my proper thoughts tomorrow.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Re: newbie tamper question.

    Quote Originally Posted by 434C5945481F1F1E2D0 link=1235569249/0#0 date=1235569249
    hi. just wondering whether a less than perfect fitting tamper is going to make any difference at the end of the the cup?
    YES tamping makes a huge difference.
    In an ideal espresso world.
    Good fit tamp to basket is best. The perfect match.
    Aim for water to disperse evenly, over and under every piece of coffee grounds.
    Water is lazy and will find the quickest path available.
    Espresso machines are based on hot water under pressure to squeeze the oils from the beans.
    LOW resistance to water, temperature and pressure will have a poor result.
    HIGH resistance to water, temperature and pressure will have a poor result.
    Find the balance.
    It is your choice on flat or curved tamper base.
    We all have thoughts on this base issue.
    Experiment and let us snobbers know your findings.
    Your grind setting is all important.
    I recall as a snob, seeing a Barista in Glebe, doing the NO TAMP.
    Shocked, by the mess mostly.
    Surprised by the quality and taste Forever.
    I have tamped a half decent shot with the bottom of a shot glass.
    In my mind,
    there is no right or wrong in coffee.
    But A few

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Re: newbie tamper question.

    Quote Originally Posted by 636C7965683F3F3E0D0 link=1235569249/0#0 date=1235569249
    hi. just wondering whether a less than perfect fitting tamper is going to make any difference at the end of the the cup? cheers.
    "Less then perfect" can be a lot of things. Define perfect... A little gap is not only not important but desirable. The tamped should be close, but should not bind in the basket. The problem is that baskets are made with low tolerances and buying a "58mm" basket can result in a good fit.. or not. I had two LM 58mm straight-sided baskets. One worked great and the other was not usable because my 58mm tamper would bind in the basket.

    With that said, a tamper that is "about" the same size as the basket and does not bind will yield best results. As mentioned, whatever works best for you is fine, but if you find that you can only get good espresso with a certain shape tamper base or a tamping force of a specific amount, then it is likely that you are compensating for other problems. For example, if you HAVE to tamp at a very high force (over 50 pounds) then you could be compensating for a too-coarse grind, poor distribution, too small of a dose, or a grinder that creates a clumpy grind. If you HAVE to tamp with a very light force (less than ten pounds) then you might be compensating for a too-fine grind, too large of a dose, or a too high pump pressure.

    Most important:
    - fresh coffee, properly blended and roasted for espresso
    - correct grind from a quality grinder
    - proper dose
    - proper distribution in basket
    - level tamp with a good fitting tamper

    Least Important (and way down the list)
    - tamp force

    For techniques to assist in finding and eliminating such problems:
    - go to my website:
    - look in the RIGHT hand column for the "How To" section

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Re: newbie tamper question.

    One the one hand, in recent times there have been suggestions from people whose opinions I respect that theyve observed no shot quality improvements from a properly fitting tamper. On the other, weve been making fitted tampers for a number of years now, and the number of customer testimonials we get along the lines of My shots are so much better now, all I changed was the tamper are just too many to ignore or to presume theyre a result of customers colluding! (check out and if you want to read some for yourself).

    The theory of a fitted tamper is along the lines of what Via has said; tamp the coffee all the way to the edges of the basket and its all compacted by the same amount. Get an undersized tamper and you leave a ring of untamped / low pressure coffee around the edge, which can lead to peripheral channeling. Of course in a 58mm basket, the difference going from a 55mm factory supplied plastic tamper to a fitted tamper, is going to see a much greater difference than going from a generic 58mm tamper to a fitted tamper; but users have even reported a noticeable improvement going from the Sunbeam EM6910 tamper (which for a factory tamper is a better fit than many) to a fitted tamper where the difference is less than 1mm.

    So what about those who disagree?

    In general, those who have alternative opinions on this issue tend to be professional baristi working with equipment that could buy a new small car and I suspect at least part of the answer lies there. Well made commercial (edit: and top-end domestic) espresso machines often have better water distribution than cheaper home machines, as well as pre-infusion. Couple that with always using fresh beans (well, always in the cases of the people Im referring to!) ground on a competition-grade grinder, stable temperatures and excellent technique and youve got a setup that is probably a lot more resistant to conditions that could cause channeling on cheaper machines. As such, those working in those environments will honestly state they notice no shot benefits in a fitted tamper.

    Bottom line? In my opinion the better fitting tamper you can get the better. It may not be as necessary in top-end situations (in fact a bit of clearance can be handy when youre working at high speed), and presuming you have 58mm baskets then going from a very undersized tamper to a generic 58mm unit will no doubt improve things; but in my view you have nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain by getting the best fit you can.


  7. #7
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Warwick, QLD

    Re: newbie tamper question.

    I vote with the Protagonists for a properly fitted Tamper.... [smiley=thumbsup.gif]

    For me, it made the task of achieving consistently applied tamps a walk in the park, which allowed me to concentrate more on other aspects of the process. I love my Pullman Tampers.... Theyre with me for life 8-)


  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Re: newbie tamper question.

    Just something Ive noticed lately that might be useful for you... or might be really obvious already!

    When people say "better results in the cup", what they (most likely) mean is "more consistently good results in the cup". That is, a perfectly fitting tamper will avoid edge-channeling (the bane of my life, as were lacking a good tamper atm) 90% of the time. On the other hand, a generic tamper thats only a reasonable fit will avoid edge-channeling maybe 75% of the time (50% if youre careless). [I should add that these are my estimates based on my learning experiences with our new VBM... needless to say I dont have my technique quite nailed yet.]

    Does that make sense? The point I wanted to make is that no individual shot will necessarily taste better just because you have a fitted tamper. BUT, youll get great shots (which taste better) more of the time with a fitted tamper.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2005

    Re: newbie tamper question.

    For techniques to assist in finding and eliminating such problems:
    - go to my website: *
    I attempted to follow this advice - and failed.

    Dogged persistence was rewarded.
    delivered the goods.


  10. #10
    Senior Member Pavoniboy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Minnamurra NSW

    Re: newbie tamper question.

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    I certainly noticed a difference when my Pullman fitted tamper arrived. However, this was in comparison to the crap fitting plastic garbage tamper that came with the machine.

    I could suddenly tamp a lot more consistently which helped a lot in refining other parts of the espresso making equation.

    But most of all I noticed I could pull a shot much longer before it began to blonde. Before Pullman I could never get a full double shot before it was blonding...and now I can :)

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