Working with a tamper, how to properly tamp coffee

During the tamping process, the coffeeis tamped in order to ensure the correct resistance of the coffee to the water that is trying to penetrate the coffee , thus ensuring perfect extraction. Two factors are important when working with a tamper. Firstly, theevenness of the squeeze and secondly thestrength of the pressure, the more important being even tamping.


When training to make espresso, we encounter mainly the question: "How hard should I push the tamper?". For some, it is surprising to discover that the strength of the press has no effect on the extraction of the espresso. In other words, once the pressure has reached the maximum density of the coffee bed, tamping with more force no longer affects the extraction and the resulting espresso.

Place the coffee in the lever. The coffee is logically more voluminous than after tamping because it is "aerated" with air. The tamping presses the coffee into the lever. This displaces theair that was between the small particles of ground coffee. This creates ahomogeneous layer of ground coffee particles in the lever - the coffee bed. This dense coffee bed is forced into the lever basket by packing. The pressure of the tamper can only displace the air, the coffee left behind is made of solid material and cannot be compressed further. Therefore, it is important toachieve a tamping force so that the coffee bed is well tamped, but it is useless to apply more force to the coffee as it cannot be tamped any further.


The original recipe for traditional Italian espresso spoke of a consistent pressure of 20 kg. Investigation and testing has revealed that this force is not necessary for tamping at all. The minimum force you need to push on the coffee when tamping is 5 kg. All the extra weight will not affect the extraction of the espresso. Since 5 kg of pressure is not difficult to exert, this step is easy to accomplish when tamping.


What we must be particularly careful of when tamping coffee is the evenness of this pressure. Our aim is to have the coffee packedin the lever in the same plane everywhere. So that there is no more coffee on one side and less on the other. To meet this condition for proper tamping, it helps to prepare thecoffee in the lever for tamping.

Before using the tamper, tidy up the ground coffee particles in the lever. Thefirst step is to spread out the coffee from the pile created by the coffee spilling from the grinder spout. This can be helped by straightening the coffee during the actual grinding process with a slight rocking motion of the lever under the grinder. The second step is the vaulting of the coffee in the lever. Tap the side of the lever with the palm of your hand to spread the coffee in the lever.

Remember that when you are brewing, the ground coffee moves towards the place where you tap the lever with your hand. I.e. "Where you tap, the coffee goes".

Finally, you can use a special tool - the distributor- to help you straighten the coffee . With this tool, you spread the coffee in the lever to the desired plane, which you simply tamp with the tamper. Thedistributor has a specially shaped bottom part that evenly spreads, distributes, the ground coffee in the lever.


Learning thecorrect grip of the tamperis important for maintaining uniformity during the tamping process . In this respect, it is advantageous to hold the tamper in the palm of the hand so that two fingers - thumb and forefinger - overlap the edge of the tamper. This way they will touch the lever when tamping and give us information about thehorizontal position of the tamper.

It is important not to lock the wrist inthis grip, especially for health reasons . Think about keeping your wrist straight when tamping and your forearm as if it were an extension of the tamper. Theright angle bend is at the elbow. This ensures a firm grip on the tamper and avoids the typical barista problem of wrist pain leading to carpal tunnel syndrome in worse cases.

A proper grip on the tamper that relieves the wrist is especially important for professional baristas who tamp dozens of coffees a day. However, at least from the point of view of prevention, it is a good idea to get used to this grip even when making coffee at home.


Alwaysbuy a tamping padwith your tamper . Of course, with a little care you can also tamp coffee on a bare table, but this does more harm than good. Tamping pads are there to provide protection and stability for the lever when tamping. The lever will not slide off the table and will not be damaged in any way. Tampering without a pad will damage not only the table top, but also the lever itself.


A common mistake baristas make is to move or twist the tamper in all sorts of ways when tamping. Spinning the tamper in the lever may seem like a fancy way to work the tamper, but it is definitely not efficient. The tamper, like the stamp at the post office, has a squeeze function. From the bottom, the tamper is completely flat, so it doesn't press any pattern, leaving a flat plane that we want to achieve by tampering. Therefore ,with the tamper in the correct grip perpendicular to the lever, just push with a force of at least 5 kg and then gently remove the tamper. Any further movement would mean uneven cramming of the coffee or damage to the homogeneity of the compressed coffee bed.


Do not shake the lever after tamping and take care when inserting it into the coffee machine. Subsequent shocks after tamping could mean that the coffee bed has cracked or separated from the sides of the basket in the lever. At that point, the air that we removed by tamping would get back into the crevices.

Cracks in the packed coffee affect extraction. The water finds this break in the homogeneity of the coffee bed immediately and quickly flows through it. This effect of coffee wrapping is the cause of an extraction problem called channelling.


For proper tamping, it is necessary to choose the right tool, i.e. a suitable tamper. We have great experience withCzech tamper, which we recommend for getting a great espresso. Theinnovative Czech tamper will help you to get the perfect extraction and, thanks to its precision , minimise the possibility of channelling. They comein the traditional 58 mm size, the basket size for most lever coffee machines. And also with a smaller 41 mm base. Use this smaller size for quality tamping when making espresso from asingle lever - single serving basket.

Heavy Tamper was the brainchild of Czech barista Radek Moutayrek. He, as he describes in his story, decided to make his own tamper. He purchased a stainless steel log and an exotic wood prism and persuaded a friend who owned a CNC machine to turn out his tamper and a few others for friends in the industry. The popularity of his tamper grew so much that today he runs his own successful company and under the brand name Heavy Tamper creates precise, ergonomic and popular tampers that are created using the latest precision technology and the highest quality materials.


Automation ensures maximum consistency in the tamping process and makes the job easier for mainly professional baristas. The use of a tamping device - Puqpress - will make the preparation of each coffee easier and faster. Theautomatic tamper is the way to always high-quality, fast and above all constant tamping, which is useful in multi-barista operations. Puqpress eliminates differences and imperfections in tamping technique between your baristas. It also gives them the space to focus more on other important aspects of coffee preparation.

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