Results 1 to 14 of 14
Like Tree3Likes
  • 1 Post By GregWormald
  • 1 Post By Caneurysm
  • 1 Post By MrJack

Thread: Upwards tamp, is it always useless?

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    558

    Upwards tamp, is it always useless?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Have you ever had a particularly good coffee when the barista used the upwards tamp? (Pushing the basket up against the 'tamper' on the grinder)

    Reason I ask is a new barista in a cafe near my office is using the technique, and as far as I can tell from watching her, she produces very little pressure, perhaps 2kg at most, which makes me think they've dialled in a really fine grind.

    The coffee she produced was average (but not awful) and it reminded me that I've yet to have a good coffee from an upwards tamp, so why do they do it?

    Perhaps to save time?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    PRL
    Posts
    2,583
    Can't say I've had a great coffee from any places that do this, but I'm not sure that the relation is causal (to me a consistent level tamp 'appears' more important than the pressure). A place I'm heading to this arvo (for a beer in the sun) does this, and their coffee is usually ok (given the Segafredo beans used....which I don't fancy). They are a food / liquor oriented place that does a brisk coffee trade, and it certainly appears to be both a time and bench space saving process. The work flow is pretty efficient.

  3. #3
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    2,286
    The actual pressure of the tamp is not really crucial, the consistency of the tamp from cup to cup is.

    I'd be looking for something else to explain the 2nd rate coffee.

    Greg
    bhamilton likes this.

  4. #4
    Member Caneurysm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    70
    +1 for Greg's post

    The consistency of tamp along with the correct and consistent dosage of grind for the basket are far more important. My personal opinion is that the upwards tamp is significantly harder to make consistent and even (level); if for no other reason than when tamping downwards you are allowing gravity to assist you in applying the tamp pressure which frees up the bodies muscles to apply more effort in ensuring the tamp is level.

    I also think that many businesses within the food and beverage industry simply see coffee as an additional revenue stream and so seek to outlay minimal cost in setting up a machine to put out coffees. When purse holder of a business has no significant appreciation of the preparation that goes into making a coffee, then obviously forking out an additional 50/70/100+ dollars for a hand tamp seems like a pointless waste of money when there is a tamp built into the grinder.
    DaveR likes this.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    558

    Upwards tamp, is it always useless?

    This is in a cafe that is in my building, a large office block on Collins St. They've changed hands about 4 times in the last 8 years.

    Each time they change hands the new owners put up signs saying the coffee has changed and is now better, but it continues to compare poorly against the host of great cafes within a block or two - Cup of truth, switchboard, famished, little king, black velvet, to name just a few. So I, along with most coffee drinkers on my building, continue to go elsewhere.

    It must be soul destroying for a new business owner to buy a cafe in a building, only to see so many people walk past your cafe with cups from outside. But if your coffee isn't up to scratch...

    Of course they do pretty well when there's heavy rain, but that's not very often in Melbourne.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    1,376

    Re: Upwards tamp, is it always useless?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caneurysm View Post
    My personal opinion is that the upwards tamp is significantly harder to make consistent and even (level); if for no other reason than when tamping downwards you are allowing gravity to assist you in applying the tamp pressure which frees up the bodies muscles to apply more effort in ensuring the tamp is level.
    Not only that, but with a hand tamp you apply force directly through the coffee. With an upwards tamp, unless you hold the handle at the filter end, you are applying force at some distance from the basket, which has the effect of rotating the handle end upwards. As a result, is going to be nigh on impossible to get it level without some significant effort to do so.
    Journeyman likes this.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    558

    Upwards tamp, is it always useless?

    The barista I observed doing this wasn't applying much pressure at all, more like a pat than a tamp.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Journeyman's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Bendigo
    Posts
    1,028
    The pub I worked at (briefly) had a built in tamp - I tried it and hated it. MrJack explains why. The coffee is at the end of a long lever with no fulcrum - not only is it almost impossible to get consistent tamps, by the time you've done 10 or so coffees your should is aching. IMO tamping downwards is much easier on the muscles, easier to get level and easier to get approx the same force on the grinds.

    I needed consistency in tamp because I wasn't allowed to touch the grind - my way of checking things was to make as near a standard (for me) coffee as possible and time how long 60ml took to pour and what it looked like. Too quick and I would tamp harder, too slow and not so hard. In the time I used it I couldn't get 2 consecutive cups that looked the same from the fixed tamper.

    As to quality, can't say, but the boss would only get coffee from the girl who brought in the hand tamp and me. And everyone else used the fixed tamp.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    349
    Quote Originally Posted by MrJack View Post
    Not only that, but with a hand tamp you apply force directly through the coffee. With an upwards tamp, unless you hold the handle at the filter end, you are applying force at some distance from the basket, which has the effect of rotating the handle end upwards. As a result, is going to be nigh on impossible to get it level without some significant effort to do so.
    When I 'upwards tamp' when setting up/testing a machine, I hold the handle in one hand, and with the other hand 'squeeze' the puck by putting my thumb on top of the tamper and a couple of fingers under the handle either side of the spout. Easier to ensure the tamping is flat and consistent, but a bit hot on the fingers. Although I prefer using a handheld tamper, I need to use whatever the customer is going to use so that I can set everything to suit their equipment and technique.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Mornington Peninsula VIC
    Posts
    1,251
    Quote Originally Posted by MorganGT View Post
    ...but a bit hot on the fingers.
    I would think that "... a bit hot" is more than a bit of an understatement! I know for a fact that my fingers would not enjoy being firmly pressed against 90ish degree hot chromed brass for any period of time.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Journeyman's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Bendigo
    Posts
    1,028


    I've seen Iron Chefs dip fingers in boiling oil to test the flavour(?) heat(?)

    Wouldn't it be counter-productive to test using a bare hand on a hot PF - I'm betting none of the staff would be doing it that way.

  12. #12
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    18
    Concur with Greg and Caneurysm; when it comes to tamping, pressure can be varied while still achieving good extractions, whereas tamping level (evenness) will - in arguably all cases - adversely affect the extraction. I think Gwilym Davies demonstrated something to that effect (albeit with a downwards tamp).

    The problem with 'upward' (or attached) tampers is consistency, not necessarily pressure (as journeyman said).

  13. #13
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    24
    Relative to the coffee, it's still being compressed from the top!

    +1 to what the above has said - the amount of tamping pressure doesn't really matter - especially when the beans are going to be smacked with 9 bars of pressure in the new few seconds...

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    169
    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    I think its more about workflow / bench space / convenience for cafes that probably dont think too much about technique.
    Your probably going to get a better extraction from someone that uses a hand tamp, but they are probably using a hand tamp *because* they are all round better / caring at producing a good extraction.

    What came first, the chicken or the egg?



Similar Threads

  1. Designing a new tamp, tell me what you think
    By flarets in forum Brewing Equipment (non-machine specific)
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 14th January 2012, 12:21 PM
  2. How often do you service your tamp ?
    By A_M in forum General Coffee Related...
    Replies: 39
    Last Post: 17th December 2009, 09:15 PM
  3. Tamp - where to buy on a budget?
    By axisa in forum General Coffee Related...
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 7th May 2009, 06:00 AM
  4. good tamp?
    By blue in forum General Coffee Related...
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 10th July 2007, 11:48 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •