Compressing or “tamping” your ground coffee correctly in the portafilter before delivering a double espresso is a very important part of the preparation process.
Coffee tamping is often neglected but it makes a big difference when it comes to getting a consistently good espresso shot.
A great espresso gets delivered in 25-30 seconds with 40-50ml of liquid espresso in the cup.
If the coffee is not tamped properly and consistently compressed the same every time then you will get a different result every time.
Most of the coffee tampers that come with espresso machines fall well short and although they do flatten the coffee in the portafilter they tend to be very flimsy and light and do not compress the coffee grounds sufficiently.
What then happens is that when the water is forced through the coffee at high pressure it runs down the side of the puck or straight through the coffee and you get a flavourless, diluted coffee.
You can do all the right things in terms of buying the freshest coffee and only grinding it just before brewing and getting the correct grind fineness and the correct dose of coffee but if you don’t tamp correctly it will all be for nothing.
The first thing is to get rid of the plastic or flimsy lightweight metal one that came with your coffee machine.
Then you need to get a tamper that has a bit of weight to it, something that you can properly feel in your hand.
This Calibrated Coffee Tamper weighs 372g and it really feels like a solid coffee accessory when you hold it in your hand.
This tamper is spring loaded and so you just need to press down and it has been configured to stop when 30lb of pressure has been achieved.
It’s very well made and when you hold it in your hand you’ll realise just how good an investment it is because it will outlast the coffee machine you are using it with and is the only tamper you will ever need.
It has a very thick black plastic handle and a solid stainless steel base.
I’ve been using it for a few years and it looks and works the same today as the day I got it and I expect it to be doing the same in 5 years time.
This is the coffee tamper that I use with my Sage Barista express coffee machine and it fits perfectly. Its 53mm which is the standard for all Sage coffee machines and is a common size for other manufacturers as well.
Make sure you check the diameter of your portafilter before you order.
The Barista Express is a brilliant coffee machine that delivers coffee shop quality coffee but the only thing that lets it down is the quality of the tamper.
The tamper it comes with is ok but it’s too lightweight and its hard to get the same amount of pressure each time you tamp the coffee.
This is something that we have found with all coffee machines we test. For whatever reason you get a poor coffee tamper even if it’s a really good coffee machine.
The challenge is knowing how much pressure to put on the coffee to compress it just right but not too much and not too little.
You will not get a better precision tamp on your coffee for the money.
We have seen tampers at 8-10 times this price that give a spring load pressurised tamp.
Some of the really expensive ones let out a “click” once you have pressed down with the required amount of pressure and this one doesn’t do that but it does the same job.
There is 1.5cm from the base of the plastic handle to the top of the stainless steel base.
Once you have the coffee evenly distributed inside the portafilter place the tamper on top of the bed of coffee and press down until the bottom of the handle touches the top of the base.
The spring loaded handle delivers 30lbs of pressure every time and it totally removes any guess work from the tamping process.
This is a brilliant tamper that is available for a fraction of the price of other calibrated pressure tampers but it does the job just as well.