Coffee tamper: what are the types and how does it work?


  • What is an espresso tamper?
  • Classification of tamper

What is a tamper?

Before we dive into the details of the different types of tamper, let's quickly recap what the term "tamper" actually means.
The so-called coffee tamperis an essential element, usually a small handheld device, without which a well-made espresso would not be born into the world.

The purpose of the tamper is tocarefully compact the ground coffee beans in the portafilter cup. In the overall preparation, the coffee is tamped just before the portafilter touches the shower head and before the actual extraction begins. Without the tamper, the water would pass through the ground coffee too quickly and unevenly, which would adversely affect the final taste of the coffee.

Beware of a preparation habit called " tapping the tamper against the side of the portafilter."

Types of tamper - breakdown:

1. Tamper materials
2. Overall appearance of the tamper
3. Size of the tamper
4. Tamper automation
5. Tamper weight
6. Types of bases


  1. STAINLESS STEEL - This alloy is the most commonly used material. Not only does it look good, but it also has a long life span compared to the ones below.
  2. PLASTIC - Plastic tamper plates are usually supplied with new coffee makers as part of the package. They are made from harder plastics such as nylon, but are usually not the preferred choice among "coffee enthusiasts".
  3. GEL - The first of its kind → " Idroprep" - The unconventional soft material represents an innovative approach to tamper design. It combines flexibility and pressure relief with high efficiency. The idea is that, thanks to the flexible gel part, the ground coffee in the portafilter is evenly compacted, i.e. "hydroformed". In Idroprep's slogan: "Hydroforming Is The New Tamping". The material used for the gel part is polyurethane wrapped with foil.


The design of the tampers and their overall aesthetics are really varied. They can be found in different colours, motifs, different ergonomic designs or with different surface finishes. Such finishes give the tamper a distinctive look if you want to match it with your coffee accessories.

An example of this point is the wooden handle together with the metal tamping part - not only does it look good, but it can make the feeling in the hand considerably more pleasant when tamping.

In 2024, the matte black colour is clearly "on trend". Equip your coffee corner with this colour!


The most common tamper size is usually 58 millimetres in diameter. This size fits most standard portafilter cups used in home and commercial coffee makers. However, there are also tamper sizes with smaller diameters (such as 51 millimeters for some smaller coffee makers) and larger diameters (such as 58.35 millimeters for some professional coffee makers) that are more suited to specific types of portafilters.

Without the correct diameter of the packing section, poor compaction and subsequent uneven extraction of the espresso could occur. For the perfect selection, I recommend reading the article that discusses the actual tamper selection.


  • Manual espresso tamper:
    With this type of tamper, the squeeze is achieved by grasping the handle correctly in a clenched palm perpendicular to the portafilter. They are affordable, the most widely used, but improper handling can result in a clogged surface of ground coffee that is not horizontal. The espresso extraction will then be uneven.''

  • Calibrated espresso tamper:
    These are more in the category of barista tools for more professional use. Due to the built-in spring, you have the ability to know exactly when you have exerted 15-15.5 kg of pressure because the spring compresses at the same moment. When tamping, such a value is considered ideal.Automatic espresso tamper:

  • Automatic espresso tamper:
    This type requires plugging into electricity and is mostly used in busy café environments. Whether it be at your home or in your future cafe - the convenience for your arms will surely ensure.
    Tthis process works with the help of a motor and a piston to create the necessary pressure for pressurization. You place the portafilter in its designated place and within two seconds you have a flat coffee surface in the cup, without any need for manual intervention.

  • Lever espresso tamper:
    Similar in size to an automatic, but here there is no electricity needed, just a little force to push the lever.

    Dynamometric tamper by MACAP

  • Flat espresso tamper:

    A puck-shaped tamper that works with what's called a palm grip to indicate proper use - squeezing with a straightened palm.

    Flat tampers can be:

  • Magnetic espresso tamper:

    Due to the magnetic nature of portafilters and their baskets, the tamper will cause a more precise fit while hardly moving. The downside is that compatibility with different types of portafilters is low.

    It should be added that some tamper devices have a milled or otherwise defined step around the perimeter of the tamper section.
    This is always slightly wider than the basket in the portafilter. This ensures a precise and even squeeze of the ground coffee.

No value is considered ideal here. The tamper should not feel too heavy or too light in your hand. You can't go wrong with the happy medium. This selection will be the hardest.

Each of the following designs has unique advantages that affect the extraction result in different ways. The shape of the base determines how the water will flow through the ground coffee beans.

baseis designed to exert even pressure to produce a regular coffee puck.
It is almost the most used tamper base with the advantage of easy washing, as well as the convex base below.

channeling on average.
Although they can seal well, there is again a higher risk of inconsistent results if you don't know how to handle them properly.
This is why they are more popular, especially with more experienced baristas.

The relief is rounded so that when squeezed, small ripples are visible to create channels for better water flow during extraction.
They are rarely available and their colour variations are limited.

It is simply the same thing only in this case the relief is pointed.
When tamped, it will create identical rounds as a scalloped base with the difference that the lowered and raised areas will "zig-zag".
Because of the noticeable relief, both the corrugated and serrated bases are harder to clean than the flat and convex ones.
Both variations tend to be used by more experienced baristas.

Recommended products11