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What if you DONT tamp?

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  • What if you DONT tamp?

    Since Ive got a "proper" espresso machine off Chris, Ive been watching how coffee is made at every coffee shop I go to.

    What amazes me is how many places either dont tamp the coffee at all or just use a light tamp with the plastic tamper that hangs off the side of the commercial grinders. And yet, they still seem to get a good crema and reasonable tasting coffee. I asked one today why he didnt tamp the coffee to 15KG recommended and he just said, "I dont have time and it doesnt make much difference".

    Is tamping really necessary?

  • #2
    Re: What if you DONT tamp?

    From what I have tried, not tamping will be pretty disastrous for a machine that doesnt have any sort of preinfusion. However, machines with an e61 group or a saturated group with a gicleur seem to do OK. Not tamping certainly dirties the shower screen, and it requires a different dose, and I doubt that the results will be as consistent, but you can actually get a pretty good shot. Which sort of shoots to pieces a lot of the arguments about how crucial many features of tampers and elements of the tamping routine are.

    I think that tamping is certainly necessary to maintain consistency. As long as your tamp is consistent, I think that it should be fine. Dose is, IMHO, the more important and trickier thing.




    • #3
      Re: What if you DONT tamp?

      At the cafe in the foyer where I work, the new barista has taken to tamping with a hand held tamper instead of the one attached to the grinder.

      They go through 60kg a week and he still takes the time.

      Most coffee shops Ive tried dont make coffee as good as me.
      I tamp.
      nuff said?


      • #4
        Re: What if you DONT tamp?

        Its weird. Im just watching a documentary on "Lifestyle Food" on the best cafes in the Venice of course...and the master barista at the (reputed) best cafe in Venice, only used a very light tamp. To her credit, she used an original lever/piston machine though.


        • #5
          Re: What if you DONT tamp?

          On a lever/piston machine the pressure is controlled by the barista/lever.
          That could make a difference as you could "pre-infuse" before applying maximum pressure.

          I wasnt a coffee snob when I was in Venice 4 years ago, so cant comment on their coffee.