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Espresso Tamper Sizing Guide at Espresso International
Help for tamper ordering: Determine tamper size with stencil
Do you know which tamper you need?
When choosing the tamper, the exact size is decisive in order to optimally press the espresso powder into the sieve support. If you do not have a manufacturer's specification for the tamper size of your espresso machine, you will have to determine the diameter yourself.
Please measure the inner diameter of your sieve before ordering. To be on the safe side, we offer you here templates for printing and cutting out. Simply insert them into your sieve holder - this is how you determine the mm diameter of your tamper.
Please note: When printing, the option "Fit to page" must not be checked, as this will falsify the result.
Tamper and tamper stencils are available in dimensions between 48 and 58 millimetres. The stencils are available for download in PDF format:
- Tamper - 48mm
- Tamper - 49mm
- Tamper - 50mm
- Tamper - 51mm
- Tamper - 52mm
- Tamper - 53mm
- Tamper - 54mm
- Tamper - 55mm
- Tamper - 56mm
- Tamper - 57mm
- Tamper - 58mm
You can find your new tamper in the Espresso International online shop in the Espresso Tamper category.
Tamping - What is it actually?
Before we go into the details here, we would like to explain what "tamping" actually is. It is the process of pressing coffee grounds into a portafilter. A portafilter machine is primarily known from the catering industry, but more and more private households are also opting for the "queen" of espresso preparation.
The word tamper can be translated in German as mashers, coffee press or coffee stamp and thus describes exactly what is done with it. Tampering can significantly influence the taste of the coffee. Only by evenly distributing and pressing the coffee powder can an optimal espresso be extracted.
A pressure of about 15kg should be enough to ensure that the coffee cake is nice and firm and lies horizontally evenly in the carrier. But why is this important?
It is generally known that water always seeks the easiest path. So if the coffee powder is not even and flat in the carrier, the hot water will only pass through part of the powder. It may also form small channels that go around other parts of the coffee puck. This results in a lot of powder being unused and a small amount being over-extracted. Therefore, always ensure an even result, which means that the same amount of powder is compacted at the same pressure at each point of the portafilter. If you always want to work with the same pressure, it is best to purchase a so-called Technic Tamper. Once correctly adjusted, it presses every time with the identical KG pressure.
What is tamped?
Strictly speaking, a tamper can be used to press all types of coffee powder or ground coffee into the portafilter. In portafilter machines, tamping is mandatory. In fully automatic coffee machines, this process is carried out automatically. While the parts are coordinated and the same pressure is always used, this does not apply to manual tamping. Here, the experience and technique of a barista or a passionate espresso fan is required.
What are the differences between tampers?
There are countless different models and sizes. To find a suitable tamper that fits with the existing portafilter, the basics should be known. For example, there are differences in material, size, type of operation and quality.
There are three types of tampers. First, of course, the plain hand tamper for the purist. Then the more refined variant such as the Technic-Tamper with adjustable pressure and as a third variant the lever tamper as a single device.
In terms of materials, no wishes remain unfulfilled. Thus, you can choose tamper made of plastic, wood, stainless steel, aluminum, silver or gold. There are also no limits to the imagination when it comes to the colors of the tamper. Painted in pop tones, camouflage or carbon look, polished tropical woods or simple metal look. No other tool symbolizes the work of a barista as much as a tamper. That's why the tamper has also become a lifestyle product that expresses the user's individual preference.
Plastic tampers are often included with the purchase of new portafilter machines. In practice, these prove to be of little use, as they do not produce an even result in the portafilter. This is due to the lack of resilience of the material and the low weight. After all, for good and safe handling, a high tamper's own weight is considered very pleasant by many users. For whom solidity and durability are important should for this reason place value on high-quality models. Manufacturers such as Metallurgica Motta from Italy have specialized in high-quality tools for a barista for many decades.
What to consider when buying your tamper?
There are some points that are essential to consider. These have a significant impact on the quality of extraction and longevity with proper use. Therefore, it is recommended not to make a hasty purchase, but to pay attention to all the details. The extra effort pays off, in any case, to benefit from the advantages.
- Size: It is important for an evenly tamped coffee grounds that the size of the tamper is adapted to the portafilter. The size of the standard sieves is 58 mm. However, there are a variety of other portafilter sizes. It is crucial that the tamper has no or very little play.
Here you will find a list of common machines and their portafilter sizes.
- Material: In principle, the use of tampers made of plastic is not recommended, because they can not withstand the load permanently. Better are materials such as aluminum, stainless steel or even precious metals such as silver. Each of these materials has its own advantages and disadvantages.
As a material, aluminum is particularly popular in the aerospace industry due to its high specific strength combined with low weight. Compared to other metals, aluminum is relatively soft, light and tough.
Advantages of aluminum tamper: Low cost, no tarnishing of the light metal, durable, corrosion-resistant, 100% recyclable
Disadvantages of aluminum tamper: Very light (1/3 lighter than stainless steel), more sensitive to impact than stainless steel, 6x more energy consumption in production compared to stainless steel.
Stainless steel tamper
In addition to iron, this particular form of steel can also be nickel, manganese, chromium or molybdenum. Its high degree of purity distinguishes this material, so it is also called high-purity steel.
Advantages of stainless steel tamper
- corrosion resistant, practically cannot rust
- Hard and dense with good specific gravity
- Can be processed matt or high gloss
Disadvantages of stainless steel tamper
- More expensive than aluminum or plastic tamper
Precious metal tamper
With a density of 10.49 g/cm³, silver is a heavy metal that is particularly resistant to corrosion. Gold and all platinum metals also belong to these precious metals.
Advantages of precious metal tamper
- Distinctive optical reflectivity that is pleasing to the eye. High weight for optimal handling. The disinfecting and antibacterial effect of silver has been known since ancient times.
Disadvantages precious metal tamper
- High purchase price, silver needs regular polishing
It is therefore worthwhile to match the material with the use and personal ideas.
Tamper are now offered in countless different designs. The shape can refer to different areas of the coffee grounds press. The handle is usually used as a stylistic element. However, one should not only use the look and material of the handle as a purchase decision but above all the feel, which ensures that the tamper is good and safe to handle. With the large selection of models, both criteria can usually be combined.
Tamper flat or convex?
This refers to the shape of the printing surface. This can be flat or lenticular. Both variants have their supporters and there are many opinions as to whether this difference has an essential influence on the taste of the coffee.
Advantage tamper plan/flat
The flat tamper base can be used universally. It is important that the surface is placed absolutely straight. Now you have, for example, the possibility to slightly enlarge the surface by circular movements, if the tamper is a little too small. The flat shape is particularly suitable if the portafilter itself has straight sidewalls.
Advantage tamper convex
Lenticular tampers are ideal for tapered portafilters and smaller screens because this reduces so-called undesirable channeling*. (*The water does not pass through the coffee grounds evenly, but forms small channels). The convex tamper base's bulge compresses the ground coffee more in the center when pressed against it. Since the pressure at the edge of the carrier is usually stronger, the hot water flowing through is now distributed more evenly. As a result, the extraction can succeed more optimally and the aromas can be dissolved better.
These steps in tamping lead to the perfect coffee aroma!
In simple terms, tamping consists of 3 activities: The turning, the tapping and the pressing. It's like all tasks in life: Practice makes perfect!
The perfect result depends on several factors, including the grind and the amount of coffee powder. Of course, the type of coffee used is also crucial, as it can vary greatly in quality. Here, however, the preference of the coffee lover plays a role. The quality of the brewing sieve, the portafilter and the pressure with which the water runs through the grounds also have an influence. These factors must be taken into account, but have no direct influence on the individual steps of tamping, which must always be carried out.
The portafilter filled with coffee grounds is placed in a tamping station to achieve better fixation. Alternatively, the portafilter can be placed horizontally on a tamping mat.
Place the tamper vertically on the portafilter. Models with a higher tare weight usually position themselves. Nevertheless, strict attention must be paid to the vertical position.
Now hold the handle of the tamper like a screwdriver. The posture allows an even pressure to be built up. Experts recommend a contact pressure of 15 to a maximum of 20 kilograms. This must be applied evenly, i.e. in an exactly vertical position on the sieve.
In the next step, the pressure is reduced slightly and at the same time the tamper is rotated by about 120 degrees. This creates a smooth surface, which is also referred to as a "polished" surface in technical jargon.
In addition, the rotating movement smoothes out any unevenness and the powder is distributed more evenly.
Use your finger to remove any loose coffee grounds from the edge of the portafilter before inserting it into the portafilter. This is important because coffee powder residue will cause scratches and other damage to the brew head gasket due to the pressure of clamping.
It is important that the edge of the portafilter is cleaned with fingers only after tamping.
Occasionally, it can be observed that the tamper is tapped on the sieve for this purpose. However, this is not recommended, because although the powder is shaken off, the pressed powder in the sieve also loosens at the edges. In addition, the vibrations can cause cracks to form in the center. An effect that again ensures that the water seeks the path of least resistance and not the complete ground material is extracted.
What else influences the coffee aroma?
The selection of the ground coffee and the so-called leveling of the powder also have a significant influence on the result, i.e. the aroma. The term "leveling" refers to the smoothing of the ground coffee in the portafilter. What is essential for espresso should also be taken into account for all other types of coffee. Ground coffee distribution and densification are of great importance. In theory, the individual steps sound simple, but practical implementation has its pitfalls.
If the coffee beans are ground and fed from the machine into the portafilter, a central hill is created. If this is now pressed, even tamping is impossible. To be able to distribute the powder better and more evenly in the portafilter, it should be moved slightly in all directions during grinding.
By lightly tapping on the tamper mat, the first compaction takes place. In addition, the flour is jogged downward and the surface is roughly smoothed. To intensify this effect, the filled sieve holder is then tapped against the inside of the hand. This does not require much force. Once an even surface has been created, the tamper can be used. There are also so-called knock tamper whose base is protected by a silicone ring. This allows the barista to easily knock the edge of the portafilter and let coffee residue fall back into the carrier. The rubber coating will not damage the tamper or the carrier.
A coffee grounds spreader (leveling tool) can also be used before using the tamper. Perhaps something for specialists and perfectionists, but as with any hobby - where does it start and where does it end? Especially the heavier level models speak for a good implementation and an optimally prepared surface.
Conclusion: High-quality tampers are worthwhile
Anyone who likes to drink espresso and the like and attaches importance to high quality and optimum aroma should not necessarily pay attention to the price when purchasing a tamper. High-quality models often have a higher weight and an ergonomic shape. Classic or creative designs do not have to be sacrificed. Keep in mind that a high-quality tamper can accompany you for a lifetime. The helpers in brewing coffee are not exposed to any major stress, are very solid and for this reason, neutral models are recommended, which are timeless and appealing even after many years.