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Why the large price differences between tampers

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  • Why the large price differences between tampers

    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
    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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    • #3
      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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      • #4
        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.

        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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        • #5
          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

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          • #6
            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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            • #7
              $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!

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              • #8
                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.

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                • #9
                  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

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                  • #10
                    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. :-)

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                    • #11
                      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.

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                      • #12
                        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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                        • #13
                          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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                          • #14
                            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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                            • #15
                              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.

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