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Thread: Tamper - Is closer fit actually better?

  1. #1
    Senior Member specialpants's Avatar
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    Tamper - Is closer fit actually better?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I just want peoples thoughts on this topic. I have two tampers. One is 58mm and the other is 58.3mm

    Both tampers fit my basket quite well. Both tamps have a little bit of play (just a tiny amount) and the only difference is that the larger one has less play. Is there a rule of thumb when it comes to the amount of free play when it comes to a ‘perfect’ tamper?

    From the few shots that I’ve made, I’ve noticed the larger tamper has a slight resistance when it is being pulled out of the basket after the first tamp. The resistance comes from residual grinds that remain on the edge of the basket. The smaller one also leaves grinds on the wall of the basket but comes out without any resistance.

    From what I can see, the 0.3mm makes a difference to the tamping feel, but I personally can’t tell the difference in the cup (yet… because im still getting use to my new setup).

    I just wanted to read about other peoples tamping experience – for example, does your tamp come out without resistance? Do you have loose grinds that remain on the basket’s wall, or are they slightly compressed by the tamp? Did you buy your tamp off the shelf, or was it custom made to your basket? Etc.

  2. #2
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Re: Tamper - Is closer fit actually better?

    I had a generic tamper with my Nemox which had a bit of play, and I found I was getting a donut style extraction, ie the outside of the basket was favoured by the water, obviously the grinds were not being sqashed very well at the very edge due to the slightly loose tamper fit.

    When I got another machine, I got Synesso baskets and a fitted Pullman barista tamper. The extraction is much more even (all viewed with naked PF), and its like chalk and cheese comparing the quality and feel of the 2. The Pullman feels great to use. I do rarely get the tamper to be a bit tight when pulling it out, but this generally only occurs if I have overfilled the basket, and is significantly reduced/eliminated by twisting as you pull out.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that if you have a 58mm style machine, investing in baskets and tamper should last you a lifetime, as for most of the 58mm machines the baskets will be interchangable. So you can keep your baskets/tamper when you upgrade machines in the future.

    Cheers

  3. #3
    Site Sponsor pullman's Avatar
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    Re: Tamper - Is closer fit actually better?

    It depends how close youre talking. If the tamper is such a tight fit that it creates a vacuum that dislodges the puck when you remove the tamper, then the answer is no (we do not advocate such a close fit and whenever possible machine our tampers to avoid that).

    Once you have enough clearance for the vacuum to be released, most feedback we get (of which artmans above is a typical example) suggests that the closer the fit the better. The logic of this makes sense too - if the coffee is tamped evenly all the way to the edge youre more likely to get even water flow than if theres a ring of untamped coffee around the edge.

    However not everyone agrees with this; Luca Costanzo purports that a horribly loose and unergonomic 57mm tamper in a 59mm basket gave as good results as a fitted tamper, and commercial users sometimes prefer a looser tamper so they can work quicker. So whos right?

    My take on this is that it depends a lot on the machine. A machine with a very forgiving pre-infusion / water distribution system is more likely to be able to even out the irregularities in a poorly tamped puck than a cheaper machine that may not pre-infuse at all, or has poor water distribution properties (though I would argue, if youve got the choice, why deliberately introduce an irregularity and hope a subsequent process will eliminate it?)

    The bottom line from this analysis would be that a loose tamper will not give better results than a properly fitted tamper, but depending on your situation it may give worse results. A puck that is evenly tamped all the way to the edges (that of course was properly dosed, settled, distributed etc) will give the best chance of achieving a uniform extraction.

    Your 58.3mm tamper sounds like its looser than what we call a perfect fit, where there is rarely any coffee left up the side of the basket (which is whats causing the jamming) but still enough clearance to avoid a vacuum. Its not always possible to do this but whenever possible we feel it gives the best results.

    Greg

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    Re: Tamper - Is closer fit actually better?

    Hi special pants,

    Does your basket start narrowing early?* I use better fitting tampers and on a certain basket i used to have the tamper gets slightly caught at a certain tamp depth (underdosed), only because it is narrows to less than 58.3mm at that point - this would then give you that resistance, only because the tamper has jammed into the basket ever so slightly.* At the same depth, as you can imagine, a looser tamper will not jam.

    Try increasing your dose a little and you may find the problem eliminated.

    Let us know how you go.* ;)

    Gavin.


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    Senior Member specialpants's Avatar
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    Re: Tamper - Is closer fit actually better?

    Thanks for the replies - good point about having the ability to move one basket & tamp from one machine to another.

    That was a very interesting point about creating a ‘vacuum’ too. Something I never really thought about, but the good news is that there’s a tiny amount of free play so air can escape *phew*

    As for the diameter, the walls a parallel so the tamp goes in without jamming until it is close to the bottom – where the walls start tapering in.

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    Re: Tamper - Is closer fit actually better?

    Well... the Bogav 58mm you sold me fits my rancilio basket perfectly ;) From a one shot test, it pours better than the sunbeam tamper. The sunbeam tamper (supplied with em6910) was just a little bit bigger than where the basket starts tapering which meant I kept bottoming out prematurely.

    Offtopic, but why cant people make baskets that are actually 58mm across, and tampers that are precisely 58mm :|

  7. #7
    TC
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    Re: Tamper - Is closer fit actually better?

    Quote Originally Posted by 313529232B2C292E27400 link=1312761557/5#5 date=1313395800
    why cant people make baskets that are actually 58mm across, and tampers that are precisely 58mm :|
    Because then the tamper wouldnt fit the basket ;)

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    Senior Member Pavoniboy's Avatar
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    Re: Tamper - Is closer fit actually better?

    And if you read some philosophy pertaining to science, you will end up with:

    1. There is no such thing as 58mm,
    Or
    2. There is only one thing in the universe which is 58mm, and only because we defined it as such in the first place.

    Just to be difficult. ;)

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    Site Sponsor pullman's Avatar
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    Re: Tamper - Is closer fit actually better?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5C696463574B676E6E6D6D080 link=1312761557/6#6 date=1313400206
    Quote Originally Posted by 313529232B2C292E27400 link=1312761557/5#5 date=1313395800
    why cant people make baskets that are actually 58mm across, and tampers that are precisely 58mm :|
    Because then the tamper wouldnt fit the basket ;)

    Chris is right; you need some clearance between the basket and the tamper otherwise itll jam or require such precision to insert the tamper that youd take a minute just lining the tamper up!

    You might like to read through http://www.coffeetamper.com.au/information/faq.html#basket-discrepancies where we answer the question "My machine has a 58mm filter basket. Why cant you just send me a 58mm tamper?". As you can see from that page, genuine baskets with the same part number vary enormously. Most basket manufacturers dont care enough about absolute diameter so as their dies wear (which they use to press out the filter baskets) the diameter changes.

    Greg

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    Re: Tamper - Is closer fit actually better?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    On the basket size they are mass produced items so some variation is inevitable.

    is close enough good enough for many people?

    it probably is.



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