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Thread: Why the large price differences between tampers

  1. #1
    Senior Member noidle22's Avatar
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    Why the large price differences between tampers

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi,

    I've seen coffee tampers for sale with rather large price tags, upwards of $90 from specific brands, and i've seen what appears to be pretty much identical tampers for sale for $10-20. I myself own a $20 tamper from ebay with a rosewood handle and stainless steel base which i am perfectly happy with. It's really heavy, the handle fits well in my hand and the base is perfectly flat.

    As far as i can tell, a tamper consists of a chunk of heavy metal with a flat bottom and a piece of wood attached to the top of it. Where does the $70-$150 price difference between different brands come into it and what, of that significant cost, makes an expensive tamper worth the cost?

    Cheers

  2. #2
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Why is the Mona Lisa worth countless millions of dollars while the paintings at your local op shop can be had for a couple of bucks? Why will someone be happy driving a "beige-on-wheels" Camry while yet another is happy to drop a mil plus on a Bugatti Veyron? Some of it is all about wanker bragging rights, another part of the equation is quality. attention to detail and that artisan factor and yet another part is all about that gut reactiuon that just tells you that you MUST have it... at any cost. Will a cheapy tamper tamp your coffee? .... Yup. Will a bespoke tamper measured to the fraction of a milimetre do the job a bit better?... Yup x 10!

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    yes agree with Vinitasse, i have a Pullman tamper that is matched to the basket that i use - and there is a big difference with the matched tamper & basket - is it worth the extra $$$'s, absolutely!!!

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    Senior Member noidle22's Avatar
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    yes, i see. i suppose in the professional world every little detail counts. still seems to be a major profiteering endeavor though, which is working for them so i guess it counts as a success.

    i just measured up my ebay tamper with my breville BES820 with 51mm baskets. there's about 0.5mm of clearance between the basket edge and tamp edge so it's a bit hard to imagine another tamper fitting it even better than this. a closer fit could possibly foul on the basket edge at certain points and produce even more uneven results perhaps?

    i also remember hearing about a technique with tamping where you roll the tamper around on top of the grind in a circular motion which does something beneficial to the coffee, i don't remember what. if this technique is to be favoured however, with an even closer fitting tamper to the basket, this rolling motion would be even harder to do properly as the tamper wouldn't have any room to pivot side to side.

    would this be a legitimate concern or am i just reading too much into it?

    also.....this, a lot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinitasse View Post
    .......Some of it is all about wanker bragging rights, another part of the equation is quality. attention to detail and that artisan factor and yet another part is all about that gut reactiuon that just tells you that you MUST have it... at any cost.......

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    Hi noidle22,

    My short answer would be, as with most things, the cheaper things work ok, the more expensive things work better and are nicer to use. Is it worth the extra money - only you can answer that one in the end.

    My experience - I have a "cheaper tamper" that fits about as well as yours. Had it for just over two years. Have used it with a SB EM6910 and now use it with and Alex Duetto. Use bottomless pf with both. Very rarely get bad extractions (channeling, uneven etc). Have used a fitted tamper that costs over twice as much. Was nicer to use (left less stuff around the side of the basket and felt nice to use) but didn't have any appreciable difference on the extractions. So many other things have more effect (correct grind, does and distribution, good water for example), I would put fitted tampers well down the list.

    The tamping method you refer to is called a "nutating" tamp. The idea is that the coffee is pushed toward the side of the basket and makes a better seal on the sides and avoids channeling there. Some people use a tamper with a convex bottom to try and achieve the same effect (this also means if the tamper is fitted you won't need to nutate). There is debate as to whether either idea has the intended effect. (Some also use convex tampers to better match the shape of the shower screen on their machine. Again, whether or not this has the desired effect is debated.)

    Pete

  6. #6
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    The fastidious research and development which produced Greg Pullman's tamper, the ergonomics of it, pre-production testing by baristas, makes for interesting reading.

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    TC
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    $10 carving knife from the stoopidmarket or beautifully weighted, easy to sharpen chef's knife which holds an edge and lasts forever. For me, it's always been a no brainer.

    A quality, well-fitted, machined stainless tamper is no different!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robusto View Post
    The fastidious research and development which produced Greg Pullman's tamper, the ergonomics of it, pre-production testing by baristas, makes for interesting reading.
    Not to forget Reg Barber, the first person I'm aware of to offer customized tampers back in 1995, I have one of his originals, wouldn't part with it for quids, a thing of beauty and fits my hand perfectly.

    Greg Pullman has been making a great range of custom tampers since about 2002 (I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong) right here in Australia, so no need to be ordering from overseas.

    Noidle22, not sure what you mean by profiteering? no one is forcing anyone to buy a quality product, if you don't want, don't appreciate or cant afford a Pullman tamper stay with the ebay one you have, I'm sure it does a good job.

  9. #9
    Senior Member noidle22's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Noidle22, not sure what you mean by profiteering? no one is forcing anyone to buy a quality product, if you don't want, don't appreciate or cant afford a Pullman tamper stay with the ebay one you have, I'm sure it does a good job.
    the r&d that was mentioned and the fact that the company is now well renowned and probably selling a lot of product has turned it into a money-making as well as a quality production business.
    i wasn't mentioning that the sole purpose of it's existence (although now i reread it, it does look that way) was to profit but is rather a byproduct of it's success.

    i actually looked up the definition of profiteering and noticed that it's usually a derogatory term for making money from a business using unethical means. this is my bad, i didn't mean it that way :P
    i always though profiteering was just making money in a general sense, whoops.

    i also never mentioned Pullman's equipment but that seems to have come into it somewhere. i avoided mentioning brands in my initial question to try and steer away from any possible disparaging of certain people/companies.

    why is it that i know words like disparaging but not profiteering, doesn't make any sense.

    also thanks for the replies, has given much insight onto this topic. for me i think i'll be sticking to my ebay tamper, unless i get a sweet machine one day and have a large amount of money i don't really need to buy many cool things with. i can dream

  10. #10
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    My first tamper was the silly under size one shipped with Miss Silvia. So I made one out of wood. Not easy seeing I don't have a wood turning lathe. And ugly as sin. Don't think it was from certified food-grade wood, either. :-)

  11. #11
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    As I've said in the past, you can use a screw top jar lid fixed to a short length of broom stick, it will do the job, for some reason though it simply doesn't have the aesthetic appeal of a custom made tamper.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    When I was a lad we couldn't afford screw top jar lids, and had to rely on finding a broom stick of appropriate diameter. Then again, we couldn't taste the coffee anyway, after having 'licked road clean with tongue' each morning.

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    Senior Member saoye's Avatar
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    Noidle22, if you're happy with your $20 purchase then that's all that matters. I think you'll find most on this forum are a little "bling" obsessed and tend to horde somewhat (yours truly included). Upgraditis is well and truly contagious so stay content as long as you can. If you continue down this rabbit hole you will end up like the rest of us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robusto View Post
    My first tamper was the silly under size one shipped with Miss Silvia. So I made one out of wood. Not easy seeing I don't have a wood turning lathe. And ugly as sin. Don't think it was from certified food-grade wood, either. :-)
    You remind me that I once had a tamper made from a small log. It was a matter of finding a tree branch of the right diameter and attacking it with a chainsaw. I don’t believe the coffee would have tasted any better with a $100 tamper.

    But then I am not a barista making hundreds of coffees a day who may get RSI with my log tamper.

    Barry

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    The difference in cost would be due to the production method.
    Paying someone to machine a custom tamper to tight tolerances with nice materials will be more expensive than a mass produced one size fits all one, even if the utility ends up being similar.

  16. #16
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    My first tamper was purchased off ebay.
    It seemed to do the job but as I tried to improve my technique I started to suspect it may have been contributing to my problems.
    After reading about custom tampers I looked again at my cheap mass produced one and noticed that it could not have been made any worse.

    The handle was not perpendicular to the base and also off centre.

    I now own two Pullman tampers and one other quality tamper from Coffee Snobs supplied by Coffee Parts.

    I'm a Quality Manager so you can guess a well made product pleases me.
    The Pullman ones are also pieces of art as well as good engineering.

    It's not always about the process. Sometimes it's about the look.

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    Noidle,

    $20 for a rosewood handle and stainless base - that is very cheap. Did u buy it brand new, or was it used? Also, are you sure it's not a chromed steel base rather than a stainless steel base? Not putting your tamper down in any way, just asking more out of curiosity.

    Having said that, materials are not everything. Tampers can be made out of titanium but if not designed well to be ergonomic, they are a waste of time in my opinion (again, not saying that yours is). Also, something made locally will never be as cheap as something that gets posted straight from a factory in China to your postbox where people get paid a few bucks a day.. In my opinion, that often shows on the quality and finish too.

    Gavin.

  18. #18
    Senior Member noidle22's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gavin View Post
    Noidle,

    $20 for a rosewood handle and stainless base - that is very cheap. Did u buy it brand new, or was it used? Also, are you sure it's not a chromed steel base rather than a stainless steel base? Not putting your tamper down in any way, just asking more out of curiosity.

    Having said that, materials are not everything. Tampers can be made out of titanium but if not designed well to be ergonomic, they are a waste of time in my opinion (again, not saying that yours is). Also, something made locally will never be as cheap as something that gets posted straight from a factory in China to your postbox where people get paid a few bucks a day.. In my opinion, that often shows on the quality and finish too.

    Gavin.
    i was a bit doubtful of their claims of what it was made of but i inspected the handle and there's no seams or joins where it's been glued together and there's a few chips out of it and it seems like real wood underneath.
    then again, i dunno what rosewood looks like so it might just be some cheap wood that they are just saying is rosewood.

    and yes i'm pretty sure it's a stainless steel. on the machined base of it, it looks just like stainless steel and there hasn't been any flaking or chipping of any coating on it and there's no rust or anything.

    mine hasn't been designed to be ergonomic or anything, being an cheap ebay product, but i like the feel of it i guess.

  19. #19
    Life-long Learner DesigningByCoffee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
    When I was a lad we couldn't afford screw top jar lids, and had to rely on finding a broom stick of appropriate diameter. Then again, we couldn't taste the coffee anyway, after having 'licked road clean with tongue' each morning.
    Most must be too young for Python :-)
    Back to my cardboard box!

    Luxury!

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    Member sando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DesigningByCoffee View Post
    Most must be too young for Python :-)
    Back to my cardboard box!

    Luxury!
    Not I !!!

    In my days we were so poor......

    that

    we only drank International Roast....
    and as a treat on Sundays Nescafe Coffee...choke!!

    Back to the topic.

    Australian Hand made precision matched items
    will always cost more than mass produced items from somewhere in a low cost country.

    Its similar to trying to compare a Bugatti and a Hyundai....
    You just cannot. Yet both have 4 wheels etc.....

    conflict of interest note:
    I have a Pulman Tamper and love it.
    It is worth the money my son payed for it as a birthday present for me.

    Happy Roasting

  21. #21
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sando View Post
    Not I !!!


    Its similar to trying to compare a Bugatti and a Hyundai....
    You just cannot. Yet both have 4 wheels etc.....
    I agree, but in the end they both do the job they were intended to do, get you from A to B.

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    Senior Member saoye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I agree, but in the end they both do the job they were intended to do, get you from A to B.
    True, but which one would you rather own if you had the funds? Plus it's a completely different ride even if it does get you from A to B.

  23. #23
    Senior Member noidle22's Avatar
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    strangely enough i own a hyundai, i'd rather not, but it's what i have on my P's and it was given to me for free so hey, not complaining.

    in terms of the "if you have the funds, which car would you buy", it should be a no brainer.

    drop a million dollars on a bugatti, continually pay tons for petrol, insurance etc. etc, never feel safe driving such an expensive car, constantly fear for its safety whenever parking it, be the centre of attention constantly.

    OR

    buy a hyundai excel, accent or even a tiburon, invest $250,000 on modifying it and you'll have an inconspicuous car that will absolutely DESTROY the bugatti and any other car it messes with. then spend the extra $700,000 or so on a nissan GT-R for daily use and looking like a boss, you can buy a small helicopter as well and a cool boat if you want. and don't forget the top of the line coffee machine with custom tamper :P

    i was going to tie this into something more to do with coffee but it's late and i can't think of anything :X

  24. #24
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    buy a hyundai excel, accent or even a tiburon, invest $250,000 on modifying it and you'll have an inconspicuous car that will absolutely DESTROY the bugatti and any other car it messes with
    In your dreams!!!!!!!!!!!! The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport hits 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds and has reached 431+ km/h. No Hyundai... any Hyundai... would ever be able to reach such speeds without disintergrating... no matter how much money you threw at it... even if dropped from a plane with a rocket welded to it's ass.

    Thanks for the chuckle though
    habahabanero, chokkidog and TC like this.

  25. #25
    TC
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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    buy a hyundai excel, accent or even a tiburon, invest $250,000 on modifying it and you'll have an inconspicuous car that will absolutely DESTROY the bugatti...
    Funny, funny funny!

    In Melbourne you see them on Chapel st and the like. The owners a "invest" a load of cash on bits and pieces to hang off them and still you have a bucket of bolts not worth 2 grand. :P
    Last edited by TC; 1st February 2013 at 06:59 AM.

  26. #26
    Site Sponsor coffee_machinist's Avatar
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    I'm thinking there could be some $$ in a line of faux carbon fibre spoilers and body kits for supermarket pod machines. What do you reckon Chris?
    David8 likes this.

  27. #27
    Senior Member noidle22's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    Funny, funny funny!

    In Melbourne you see them on Chapel st and the like. The owners a "invest" a load of cash on bits and pieces to hang off them and still you have a bucket of bolts not worth 2 grand. :P
    yes i despise this. i hate the look of tacky, untasteful pieces of plastic and chrome on everything with a horrible exhaust and a dodgy sound system.

    here's mine if anybody is interested: http://i1125.photobucket.com/albums/...2/SAM_1975.jpg
    photo is big so i wont embed it. was taken at a meet up around 2 months ago near Sydney Airport. not many people were there yet so i look so i alone

    also,

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinitasse View Post
    In your dreams!!!!!!!!!!!! The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport hits 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds and has reached 431+ km/h. No Hyundai... any Hyundai... would ever be able to reach such speeds without disintergrating... no matter how much money you threw at it... even if dropped from a plane with a rocket welded to it's ass.

    Thanks for the chuckle though
    top speed quotes don't really apply when there's only a very select few places in the world where you can actually achieve it acceleration is where it's at. here's a car that cost less that a veyron but is quite a match:
    "DREAMCRUSHER" JUN 9 second R32 GTR - YouTube skip to 5:15 is you don't want to watch the technical bits.
    and i reckon a purpose built drag car designed around a hyundai chassis could reach that speed, the budget would probably be ridiculous but it'd be epic.

    and not to be too lame, i was thinking about fitting a boost gauge meant for a turbocharged car onto my coffee machine :P
    i'd just have to find a pressure measuring reducer or something because boost gauges dont usually read above 3-4 bar. does such a thing exist that anyone's heard of? something that you can put in line with a pressure gauge to show a lower ratio of the pressure going into it? for example, a 10 to 1 reducer where the pressure displayed is 10 times less than the pressure going into it. does that make sense?

  28. #28
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Back on topic!

    While a custom made tamper is highly desirable to most of us, and can be highly tactile and a thing of beauty, comparing the engineering of either of the two cars mentioned to that involved in designing and fabricating an espresso tamper is a bit of a stretch.

  29. #29
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    ...and then just as promptly, back off topic again...

    The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport hits 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds
    pufft... my 30 year old bike did 0-100kmh in 1.1 seconds and 20 meters (and I have a time slips to prove it). You would think with their budget Bugatti could get that slug to move a little quicker.
    ambient and TC like this.

  30. #30
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    ...and then just as promptly, back off topic again...



    pufft... my 30 year old bike did 0-100kmh in 1.1 seconds and 20 meters (and I have a time slips to prove it). You would think with their budget Bugatti could get that slug to move a little quicker.
    I guess the extra two wheels, roof, acres of cow, aircon and million speaker sound system slowed them down a wee bit

  31. #31
    Senior Member sidewayss's Avatar
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    OT.You're a bunch of hoons! Grow up!

    I'm not going to even mention about my RC car and it's specs and figures...even though my finger's itching to.

    On topic. Certainly in the end of the day when you're starting out on your coffee journey you want to have equipment that works and not cost a bomb, just in case you do lose the passion down the line. If you are getting great results and it's doing it's job, then you have chosen well. Look after it and use it properly, and it will last a fair while.

    Answering your question, $70-$200 for a quality tamper does provide the right ergonomics which provide better results time in, time out, consistently.

    If you hold a quality tamper properly with thumb pointing down on one side, the index finger wrapped around the other side, tamp, you develop muscle memory as you tamp down and feel the tip of the thumb and the length of the index finger on the top of the filter basket, thus you can replicate the same tamping action without looking so much at the rings or top or the base of the tamper.

    A home made or cheaply made tamper does not give you as much of consistency as a quality made tamper.

    You should be looking at the result of the tamped coffee in your portafilter. Does it line up with the ring marker inside your filter basket? This marker tells you that you have dosed properly. Below that, it is under dosed, above that, over dosed, generally speaking.

    Having said all that, a quality tamper is not a guarantee of better results. Everyone's hands are different, and it's up to each individual to find what tamper suits them best.

    Pullman tampers are great as they have a great range of different tampers with removable bases to suit just about everyone, and they suit me so that I don't get RSI at work.
    A ill fitting and/or cheaper tamper would.

  32. #32
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    Re: Why the large price differences between tampers

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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    strangely enough i own a hyundai, i'd rather not, but it's what i have on my P's and it was given to me for free so hey, not complaining.

    in terms of the "if you have the funds, which car would you buy", it should be a no brainer.

    drop a million dollars on a bugatti, continually pay tons for petrol, insurance etc. etc, never feel safe driving such an expensive car, constantly fear for its safety whenever parking it, be the centre of attention constantly.

    OR

    buy a hyundai excel, accent or even a tiburon, invest $250,000 on modifying it and you'll have an inconspicuous car that will absolutely DESTROY the bugatti and any other car it messes with. then spend the extra $700,000 or so on a nissan GT-R for daily use and looking like a boss, you can buy a small helicopter as well and a cool boat if you want. and don't forget the top of the line coffee machine with custom tamper :P

    i was going to tie this into something more to do with coffee but it's late and i can't think of anything :X
    This made me I had a laugh! Thanks for that



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