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Thread: How Much Tamping?

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    How Much Tamping?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Im new to coffee snobs. Great to see there are so many people out there who are bigger snobs than I am when it comes to coffee.

    I am buying an ECM Giotto. I was told at the demo that its best to grind the beans as fine as possible and just have a light tamp.

    Elsewhere, I have heard that you need so many Kgs of force and hence the apparent need for expensive tampers which can measure the force.

    Which viewpoint is correct?

    Thanks,

    Dave.



  2. #2
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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    Sheesh...

    What else did the "vendor" suggest?

    Hope you havent bolted to the supermarket to pick up a kilo of pre-ground Vittoria....

    Frankly, the guy who sold you your machine has no idea *>:( ::)

    2mcm

    ps. Welcome to CS Dave- You may notice that were passionate about our stuff here ;)

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    I think youll find a lot of different opinions on that. I know that Alan from Coffee Connoisseurs Australia recommends a light tamp, but Ive heard of far more people saying that a heavy tamp (about 30/40 pounds) and a courser grind is the better way to go. If youve seen Oz WBC Champion Paul Bassets "Living Coffee" series, youll know he bashes the *&^% out of the grinds with his tamp :p

    I just got a brand new tamper in the mail today :) Beautiful, heavy, shiny, 58mm, and FLAT - 30 bucks ;)
    Happy tamping!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    Dave, if its not too late, dont buy it from the guy that gave you that advice! If they cant tell you how to make a coffee, how the hell will they fix your machine if anything goes wrong!

    I urge you to talk to 2mcm or someone similar - you will certainly get better advice and probably a far better deal!

  5. #5
    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    you can achieve a nice tasting, good looking pour, albeit a bit quick with a light polishing type tamp - I have been experimenting lately after some comments by Sparky. Interesting twist (no pun intended).

    Cheers

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    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    This taken from Alen Frews website- www.coffeeco.com.au/articles/tweaks.html

    (The web site referred to by Richy_4000 above):

    "Too much coffee?

    A very well defined screw impression in the puck.
    The absolute best shots were those I pulled when the double filter basket had as much coffee in it as possible, 15.0g. The coffee itself was in direct contact with the showerscreen, and another 0.5 grams caused leaking around the edges of the portafilter. As it was, the screw impression left in the puck was clearly defined.

    Tamp not a factor

    One thing that putting as much coffee in as possible did was to remove the effects of tamping as a factor in the shot quality. A light “smoothing” tamp to remove voids and ensure good edge contact with the filter basket was just as effective (or not) as the heaviest “grunt” tamp I could manage. To prove to myself that this situation wasn’t exclusive to the Silvia, I tried the same thing out on a 1-group La Marzocco and got the same results."

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    Ooooooh, a beat of heat in this thread now *:P lets have a comeback now 2MCM!! Nothing below the belt. Place your bets CSs *;D

    (Amendment - oops, didnt see the post before last. Much less heated than previously thought :P But still, a difference of opinion ;))

  8. #8
    TC
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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    With All due respect to Allan, I havent noticed him pulling shots in any recent barista comps.

    Although you can pull a perfect looking shot with no tamp at all, you will compensate with a slightly finer grind. This increases the risk of overextraction leading to poor shot profile. Things have changed since the 80s and the result is in the cup. I havent noticed any baristi in great cafes throwing their tampers away recently. Perhaps they just do it for muscle tone? :P

    In addition, many beginners struggle with dose consistency and channelling. A consistent tamp will assist in the journey to repeatable dose.





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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    And 2MCM regains the lead ;D

  10. #10
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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    i think the living coffee series tamp is more to do with the shows sponsor, than anything else....

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    Quote Originally Posted by brissydave link=1183372485/0#0 date=1183372485
    Im new to coffee snobs. Great to see there are so many people out there who are bigger snobs than I am when it comes to coffee.

    I am buying an ECM Giotto. I was told at the demo that its best to grind the beans as fine as possible and just have a light tamp.

    Elsewhere, I have heard that you need so many Kgs of force and hence the apparent need for expensive tampers which can measure the force.

    Which viewpoint is correct?

    Thanks,

    Dave.

    The most followed idea is to grind so that a 15kg tamp produces a 25 (approx) second pour time.

    Keeping the tamp the same - the finer you grind, the slower the pour should be.

    You dont need a expensive tamp that measures 15kg, just practice on a set of scales and you will get used to it fairly quickly.

    There is obviously more to it then this eg. fresh beans will give a slower pour than stale ones, you must tamp evenly, etc.

    Good machine that

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    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    I was not suggesting that light tamp is the way to go...just that some people go for it (like the Barista in Indooroopilly coffee nook the other day when I was there) and I have been doing some experimenting. I think overall I have had more consistency and better shots with a solid tamp than a light one.

    Cheers


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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    Quote Originally Posted by krusty link=1183372485/0#9 date=1183375481
    i think the living coffee series tamp is more to do with the shows sponsor, than anything else....
    I dont think so Krusty,

    Paul has been updosing and tamping heavily for quite some time. You will notice him doing the same in Coffee Crazy which pre-dated Living Coffee. He also did it in the WBC which he won...

    Whether there is a huge difference in shot profile between an 8kg tamp and a 20kg tamp, I am not so sure. IMHO, dose and distribution lead to consistent, high quality shots- and tamp plays an important role in ensuring a consistent distribution- so like Scott, Im not planning on throwing out any of my tampers in the near future (other than the crappy one which came attached to my mazzer- binned in 15 seconds ;))

    2mcm

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    Here you go ozscott - 2MCM, what about the school of thought that says that a heavy tamp compacts the top of the puck heavily, leaving the bottom less tight ->channeling. Thus, the ultra-professional auto tamping machines use multiple, light tamps (read this off a Coffee Geek article).

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    At the risk of just going waaaaay too in-depth, Ill throw in some thoughts:

    First up, lets deal with the (relative) quickie:

    Here you go ozscott - 2MCM, what about the school of thought that says that a heavy tamp compacts the top of the puck heavily, leaving and the bottom less tight ->channeling. Thus, the ultra-professional auto tamping machines use multiple, light tamps (read this off a Coffee Geek article).
    Im not so sure that that is what Marks article linked compaction to channeling. What it suggested was that tamping multiple times might lead to more even compaction. I think that everyone inferred that that this might lead to a better shot. But Im not aware of a skerrick of evidence to support that point of view.

    My own attempts to tamp, dose, distribute and tamp again have been abysmal. My theory is that the more you do, the more likely you are to screw something up. I base that on a whole bunch of experiments with the naked portafilter. I refer to those experiments so much that I really ought to repeat them and photograph ... but I dont know that Ill ever get the time.

    As for the Swift grinder, it doesnt tamp mulitple times, but has what LM call an "impeller," which is a device that looks sort of like a propeller, with a diameter of 58mm or so. This sits inside the basket. When the Swift grinder is activated, ground coffee falls over the impeller, which rotates and tamps the coffee. As more coffee is added, the impeller travels higher and higher until it hits the switch to stop. Its really quite ingenious. However, I dont think that this system was based on any notion of how one ought to tamp but, rather, Mark Barnett came up with it as a way to measure the dose accurately whilst tamping and allow the dose to be changed by altering how far the impeller can travel before hitting the switch. (I hope that makes sense; Im not all that mechanically inclined!)


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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    Wow, that tamping machine sounds ingenious. But why on earth would he have bothered with all the discussion about a single tamp leading to an uneven compaction if he wasnt tacitly implying that evenness would lead to a better shot, even if the difference is very slight?

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    The goss on how (and why) the champs do it ...

    For starters, as far as I know, Paul certainly went for the whole coarse grind/big dose thing when he won the WBC. This results in a shot with a high brewing ratio; basically, the "espresso" extracted is closer to a ristretto.

    The current world barista champion, Klaus, used quite a fine grind and low dose. Paul is currently using this method, too.

    The difference in the shots produced is quite pronounced. Shots with a high brewing ratio, such as Pauls WBC shots, are under-extracted (in the sense that a greater volume of liquid would be expected to get to the arbitrary standard espresso ratios). These shots are thick, rich, gooey and chocolatey. Such shots let their presence be known in milk and allow the barista room for error. Shots with a lower brewing ratios, such as Klaus WBC shots, are sweet, crisp and lighter in body. In fact, the shot that Klaus pulled me at the ICTF last year was almost like apple juice. Such shots seem to me to give a greater separation of flavours between different origins. However, they are harder to pull off for the barista because a dose variation of a certain weight will be proportionally more as the dose decreases. They also seem to give less of a margin for error when trying to anticipate blonding.

    ... so which method is "best"?

    As with all things taste-related, opinions will differ.

    I would speculate that culture, to a degree, might have something to do with it. Jim Schulman came down on the side of the lower dose in his excellent paper "Some aspects of espresso extraction" (worth a look, but its pretty heavy - you might want to skim for the conclusions.) I cant help but wonder if this is partly because he is so familiar with the incredible flavours that you get through cupping, or perhaps because US is much more a drip coffee country than an espresso country.

    Here, I think that, as a whole, we tend to prize chocolatey espresso more than crisp espresso. Perhaps this is to do with the ubiquity of espresso machines; the chocolatey shots are easier to get right, so we might expect to actually experience them more often. Or, perhaps, cafe owners tend to choose blends that suit milk-based drinks, which are the bulk of the market. These blends tend to be chocolaty rather than acidic.

    ... which leads me nicely into my thoughts. Personally, I view this whole dose/grind thing as yet another variable that can be tweaked in the dialing process. I refuse to give any one of these methods primacy. However, I tend to go with dosing, settling and leveling. I do this not out of any philosophy about what it will produce in the cup, but, simply, because it is an easy way to get a repeatable dose.


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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    Quote Originally Posted by richy_4000 link=1183372485/15#15 date=1183377322
    Wow, that tamping machine sounds ingenious. But why on earth would he have bothered with all the discussion about a single tamp leading to an uneven compaction if he wasnt tacitly implying that evenness would lead to a better shot, even if the difference is very slight?
    To tell you the truth, I cant remember that article in great detail. Perhaps he was implying that even compaction from bottom to top of the puck would lead to a better shot, although I dont remember that being a focal point of the article. If that was what Mark was saying, then I think that the conclusion flies in the face of what happens in the real world. Multiple tamps just seem to lead to channeling and most people agree that, whilst the Swift produces pretty good shots, a good barista with a manual grinder will produce a sweeter and more complex shot ... albeit with more wasteage and in a way that is more difficult to teach others ... which are two of the real reasons why the Swift came about.

    Cheers,

    Luca

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    ... so I guess that I should touch on the original post :P

    Quote Originally Posted by brissydave link=1183372485/0#0 date=1183372485
    I was told at the demo that its best to grind the beans as fine as possible and just have a light tamp.

    Elsewhere, I have heard that you need so many Kgs of force and hence the apparent need for expensive tampers which can measure the force.

    Which viewpoint is correct?
    I was surprised by how puny the stock giotto baskets are and how shallow the portafilter is. Combined with the depth of the shower screen, you cant really fit much coffee in there. If I were to be really cynical, Id suggest that your vendor might be selling the machine with the stock baskets. In that case, grinding fine will mean that you will use a lower dose, which means that you wont have problems locking in the portafilter if you dose high. Many reputable vendors, such as the site sponsors Talk Coffee and Veneziano Caffe (and just for full disclosure I should say that I work for them) and probably other site sponsors, have found alternate baskets for the giotto for this reason.

    As for tamping lightly, frankly, Im at a bit of a loss to understand this one. I have had decent results tamping lightly with a low dose and the LM single basket, but it seems more difficult to repeat light tamps than heavier tamps. Greg Pullman did some research on the subject not too long ago and showed that a variation of a given amount of pressure makes a proportionally greater difference in the compaction of the coffee for lighter tamps than for heavy tamps.

    The rationale behind the Espro tamper isnt so much that you tamp at that specific pressure, but that you tamp with a repeatable pressure. Doing so eliminates some variation due to tamping pressure. That feature of the tamper is aimed more at the cafe market, where you have multiple different people using a machine. The pressure chosen was partly chosen because it is what professional baristi are used to and isnt so hard as to cause RSI.

    Hope that helps,

    Luca

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    This is one of the views that luca talks about explained by one of the aussie guys of coffee.

    http://www.jlhufford.com/articles/godespresso.htm

    There is another tidbit here talking about how people have played with it

    http://www.portafilter.net/2006/01/updosing-again.html

    Hope you have fun. It will come down to trying everything and seeing how it all tastes!

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    Thats fascinating stuff Luca, thanks for all that.

    And, welcome to Coffee snobs Ant! Still havent been down to Naked Coffee yet, but Ive heard great things. Looking forward to it ;)

  22. #22
    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    Hi Ant...the website refers to using the naked PF as a training tool (and it looks pretty of course), but it goes on to note that more crema is captured - is that really true - why and how much difference do you see?

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    Ive recently gone back too Silvia baskets (which hold about 17g) after using some 14g rigeless LM from coffeeparts that hold more like 21g. I got some good tips recently, one being that for fresher coffee, a lower dose is better. And hey it works. my espresso are sweeter and more complex.

    Ive been drinking loads more espresso then when I first got my machine when I was drinking mostly milk drinks. at that time I didnt really notice the taste difference of the larger baskets through the coffee. however the bigger baskets are easier to use because they are harder to overfill. I have found that the Silvia baskets are easy to overfill and if the portafilter goes in tight against the shower screen you get a very slow pour compared to if it just touches. with the larger baskets it doesnt matter how many settling taps you do if you level the basket before tamping it is never overfull.

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    thx richy

    scott- to answer your questions

    yes
    direct transfer to the cup from the basket
    a bit

    We are not a strictly naked cafe, we have the spouts there too. You need both to have an accurate pour indicator.

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    One thing I tend to do with my shots (And I use solid, ~15kg tamps) is to half fill the basket, give it a few good wacks to settle the coffee in there and compact it slightly, then fill the basket up, wipe off the excess and tamp. My feeling is that this will help a little with the problem that the grinds at the base of the basket will have little or no compaction if you just do a straight fill and tamp. Seems to work for me at any rate :P

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    Quote Originally Posted by krusty link=1183372485/0#9 date=1183375481
    i think the living coffee series tamp is more to do with the shows sponsor, than anything else....
    & here I thought it was just about Paul "The most beautiful man in all of coffee" Bassett getting himself on camera ;)

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    Quote Originally Posted by benipk link=1183372485/15#24 date=1184641531
    One thing I tend to do with my shots (And I use solid, ~15kg tamps) is to half fill the basket, give it a few good wacks to settle the coffee in there and compact it slightly, then fill the basket up, wipe off the excess and tamp. My feeling is that this will help a little with the problem that the grinds at the base of the basket will have little or no compaction if you just do a straight fill and tamp. Seems to work for me at any rate :P
    This is the method I used to use with my machine and I got great results. Though since getting my new tamper from Greg I no longer need to do it as the Tamper fits the basket perfectly and a nice firm tamp is all that is needed.

    Saying that, even though I have had the new tamper nearly two months, getting used to the weight and getting a consistant tamp is taking a bit of practice. I have found that I do not need to tamp as hard as I used to, to get a good shot. It has been a pleasant surprise.

  28. #28
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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    I think the idea of the light first tamp -- the weight of the tamper alone should do it -- is make room in the basket for the rest of the grinds.

    Otherwise you get one heaped hill with grinds sliding down the side and onto the bench.

    --Robusto

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

    reading all this made me think - why is the basket 58mm, wouldnt there be more coffee running through the top of the coffee than the bottom?

    Would say an 80mm shallow basket get a more even taste?

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    Re: How Much Tamping?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmyb link=1183372485/15#28 date=1184757061
    reading all this made me think - why is the basket 58mm, wouldnt there be more coffee running through the top of the coffee than the bottom?

    Would say an 80mm shallow basket get a more even taste?
    Youd probably need to use a lot more coffee then jimmy..... The problem is that the best quality espresso is realised when the brew pressure is set between 8.5-9.0 Bar and the brew water temperature is within the range of 88-96 degrees C. All things being equal, the temperature will still be ok but without additional coffee to give the puck some resistance, possibly even a Turkish grind wont be fine enough to create the ideal back pressure noted above.

    An alternative would be to use more coffee at a more sensible grind size but then that would create a brew that is much larger to say the least, as in order to avoid over-extraction of the coffee, the brew time would still have to be maintained within the ballpark of 25-30 seconds but with a pour volume proportionate to the amount of coffee being used..... definitely a new slant on pulling a "Long Black" I would say.

    For example, if the thickness of the coffee puck was left at the approximate standard of 20mm for a Double basket, you would need to charge an 80mm basket with about 35 grams of coffee to maintain the required back-pressure at close to the ideal grind size with a resulting espresso volume of roughly 130ml. Now thats a big shot of espresso in anyones language :o,

    Mal.



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