Welcome to part 2 of making that perfect cup of coffee.
A warning, you will never let anyone else make you a coffee after you have this mastered.
What types of Tampers are there?
A good tamper should be made of metal and matches the size of the basket and portafilter you are tamping (generally, sizes range from 49 - 58mm in diameter). If you have more than one basket, you may need more than one tamper or you can use a two-sided tamper.
The bottom of the tamper can be of two types; rounded (convex) or flat-bottomed. You can argue over which is better but we use flat based ones. In general, tampers come in four basic styles.
- Dual-Head Tamper - This tool looks like lopsided dumbells with two flat ends, one of which is a little smaller than the other. These can be handy if you have multiple baskets and can be convenient for the home barista.
- Handle Tamper - These tampers resemble an old-fashioned rubber stamp with a flat or convex bottom and round knob handle. The knob materials range from metal to wood (and some very nice woods too). These allow you to add a bit of force to the tamp and are preferred by baristas.
- Weight-Calibrated Tamper - This is an option that often comes with the handle tampers. These tampers are designed to give a specific force behind the tamp. 30 pound-force feedback is standard though they are available in other weights.
- Puck Tamper - Some baristas prefer the style of tamper that looks like a hockey puck. These are flat and you grip them more like your holding a ball.
Choose the Right Tamper for You
If you make a lot of coffee, finding the right tamper for you is very important.
- Some automatic espresso machines include a built-in tamper. In many cases, they are an arm extension that hangs off the side. This is less than ideal for getting the correct force needed for a proper tamp. For the best results, consider purchasing a separate tamper.
- The diameter of tampers varies and most fall into the 49-58mm diameter range. Be sure to choose one that fits the basket of your machine. Check your manufacturer's specifications if in doubt.
Ok, here is the bit about actually making the coffee... ready?
Step 1 The tamper should be made of metal and not too light and it should lie comfortably in the hand. The tamper should always correspond to the size of the filter, fitting snuggly inside the basket.
Step 2 Before you fill the portafilter, you should regularly clean it thoroughly using a microfibre cloth.
Step 3 The portafilter is loosely filled with approximately 7 grams of ground coffee per cup.
Step 4 If necessary, the filled portafilter is tapped onto the palm of the hand a few times for the coffee powder to distribute equally.
Step 5 The portafilter should be placed on a tamping mat to avoid damage to the outlets or your countertop. The tamper station is an alternative solution
Step 6 The coffee is pressed down vertically from above with a pressure of approx. 15 kg as uniformly and as accurately as possible – first slightly and then with greater force; the correct position of the hand and the arm is important. (Note this is for the hardcore) To get a feeling for the pressure to be exerted, we recommend practising using scales. The harder the pressure, the longer will the extraction take. The optimum extraction time is 25 seconds for 25 ml. At the end of the tamping, the tamper will be turned in the basket; this gives the coffee powder a smooth finish, the so-called polish.
Step 7 The water finds the path of least resistance so that there will be no ideal extraction if the coffee powder is not pressed down uniformly: Therefore, it is important to shape the coffee powder into a uniform cake through which the water will flow uniformly on the complete surface.
We hope this helps you on the way to making your perfect coffee, and if you have any suggestions or tips please make a comment below.
Meanwhile, I think I'll go make myself another coffee :)