Whether you are planning on making espresso at home or you are opening up a business, there are many items you must take seriously as a part of your budget. One item that may be overlooked or underappreciated is a quality tamper. But there are many out there on the market.
Many choose plastic tampers as a cheap solution, but this is far from being a quality piece of kit and it will show in your extractions. A quality tamper doesn’t just mean it looks good or is made from nice materials. A good tamper has been designed ergonomically and will have a suitable base and handle that will satisfy the user. The base is important for your coffee because it will level the surface of your puck and add some weight to the tamp. The handle is important for you because it needs to be designed in a manner that protects your wrist and is suitable for the size of your hand.
The Tamper Base Must Be Perfectly Suited to Your Filter Basket
An absolute crucial detail is that the base must be as perfectly suited to your filter basket as possible. The standard commercial size group handle fits a 58mm basket, but there are several other common sizes. While the popular VST baskets fit a 58mm group handle they work best with a specially tailored VST base rather than just any 58mm tamper. I have been using VST baskets at home for over a year now and this is something I picked up with experience.
If you’ve ever doubted the importance of a well machined and tailored tamper just try this simple test. Take your plastic tamper that your machine gave you (unless your seller provided a nice premium starter package) and pull a shot as you normally would. Now repeat the process with your new tamper or the quality tamper your already own and observe the difference during the extraction. Of course you will have to pull both shots as consistent as possible to see the proper results. There will also be changes in the cup, but that is a complex discussion for another time. The differences should still be easy to identify. If you own a naked portafilter you will be able to observe the differences in extraction with much more detail.
A precision-machined stainless steel tamper base with TrueTamp rings for a consistent and level tamp. Credit: @benj_md
So What Tamper Do I Use and Why?
I use a Pullman Barista tamper that I first saw in Prague at EMA Espresso Bar and Alza Cafe. I spoke with the baristas and asked their opinion about the Pullman and they gave me very positive feedback.
One of the pros of the Pullman are that it is very light. Weight will vary according to the handle, but the Oak handle on my tamper is incredibly light and makes a stylish statement. In a busy café this would help to avoid hand or wrist injuries that can happen over a period of time as a barista. On top of the base there is a soft rubber compression ring for added comfort and grip when pushing down and twisting on the puck. The craftsmanship on a Pullman tamper is remarkable and they can take a beating so no more replacing cheap scratched tampers all the time. They even come with metal spacers that not only add weight if necessary, but also increase the height for larger hands.
Beautifully crafted and ergonomic, the Pullman tamper may seem pricey but this is a very small expense for something that will protect your hands and wrists and ensure consistent and top notch shot quality in the right hands.
The tamper features an ergonomic synthetic rubber compression zone for maximum comfort and to minimise high-volume fatigue. Credit: @zialuz
Article written by N.Agca and edited by N. Bhatt.
Perfect Daily Grind.