HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Tamping (65 msgs / 1377 lines)
1) From: John Abbott
It leaves a half moon impression on them and they run away howling - a half
moon bay!
I've wondered for a long time that if the tamp is so critical (and it is)
why don't the machine makers include a quality tamper? Does anyone actually
include a high quality tamper with their machine?

2) From: John Abbott
I think this would make Scott qualified to run for office in the CSA - He
just bought a digital Solis that is fully automatic AND a tamper to set o=
top (The Solis has a built in grinder and tamper).  Yep - Scott you'd get=

3) From: John Abbott
Happy birthday Angelo!   (from another Virgo)  The vitamin jar cap isn't all
bad if you put your initials in them first :O)

4) From: Dan Bollinger
I'm not a barrista, not even an amateur one.  I've only just begun thinking
about espresso and I"ve have been doing some reading.  A question I have for
the group is this.  How important is proper tamping?  Does the applied force
really make difference?  Does a slight variation in the force produce a wide
range of results or just minimal ones?  Dan
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5) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
"How important is proper tamping?"
Dan, although I, too, am not a barista, in my experience with our Miss Tea,
proper tamping is quite important. I think that for consistent results the
CONSISTENT tamping is one of the critical factors.  That's why I have
practiced (for some time) using kitchen scales. I was surprised how much my
tamping force varied.
Cheers, Lubos.
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6) From: The Scarlet Wombat
So many factors are important in good espresso, but I cannot overemphasize 
the importance of proper tamping.
I wasted a lot of coffee doing some testing.  I used the same grind and the 
same settings on the sl90 and did everything from a very light tamp to one 
of about 40 pounds.  I used my bathroom scale to determine the general 
amount of pressure.
Not much tamp allows the water to pass through far too quickly, the flavors 
a are weakish and taste very off.  The more the tamp, the more flavor you 
get  until you get too much tamp, when the machine clogs up and you cannot 
get water through.
Within that range is the tamp that allows my sl90 to take 23 seconds for a 
double shot, and to my taste, that is perfect.
It is a bit of work and takes practice to consistantly tamp to the same 
degree.  If you change the grind, the tamp will change.  If you even get a 
new filter basket, the tamp will change because different brands have 
slightly different sized holes.
Adjusting the tamp provides a lot of fun time making coffee and 
experimenting.  I guess the scientist in me loves that part, but not as 
much as I love the consumption part. [grin]
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7) From: Dan Bollinger
Lubos,  I'm not surprised that you or anyone finds weight difficult to
master.  That was the notion behind my question.  I've dealt a lot with
human factors, and one of the poorest things humans are good at is judging
weight.  We can judge colors wonderfully, guess at dimensions well, and our
sense of touch is measured in thousandths of an inch; but most people cannot
tell if something weighs 3 pounds or 7.  Like you, I've used scales to
learn.  How accurate do you think you are now?  Dan
 2002 10:42 AM
Subject: +Tamping
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8) From: Dan Bollinger
Thanks, Dan, your experience shows!  All things being equal, do you have to
adjust for different coffees, too?
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9) From: The Scarlet Wombat
Hi Dan,
Yes, different coffees and even different roasts require different tamping 
pressures.  If a roast is quite dark and oily, the particles tend to adhere 
more readily and you can clog the machine with the same tamp that would be 
perfect for a roast just into second crack.
There are so many variables, that I probably never produce the exact same 
cup of espresso twice, but that is how I like it.  I would no more have one 
kind of coffee than drink only one kind of wine.
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10) From: Stephen Carey
Tamping is quite important to getting good extraction of your espresso.  I
don't know if it matters if it is 20lbs or 25lbs so much but a nice "medium
tamp" is part of the process.  If the grind is too fine and you tamp lighter
to compensate, I still think the coffee will be over extracted.  Similarly,
using too much force to compensate for a coarse grind creates an under
extracted shot. Espresso is an art, and understanding the tamp is one more
element that sets the excellent baristas apart. It is not hard to learn, but
it takes a little practice.
Good Luck
On 9/13/02 7:31 AM, "Dan Bollinger"  wrote:
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11) From: NOEL HONG
With all the variables in pulling a shot of espresso, tamping is the one I 
try minimize by applying the same amount of force.  If the shots are over 
extracted (looks bad before my 7 sec pre-infusion + 20-23sec pull or 
excessive volume) I adjust the grind finer.  When I draw short and the shot 
looks good I give myself credit for a ristretto. The nice feature of a 
MazzerMini is the ultra fine grind adjustment and grind quality. This 
grinder + the forgiving characteristics of the Isomac Tea has significantly 
improved by drinks.
Noel V. Hong
email: nhong32590
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12) From: dewardh
really make difference?  Does a slight variation in the force produce a wide
range of results or just minimal ones?
My experience, with a Carimali Uno, is that . . . it depends.  If you overfill 
the basket so that the grounds swell up against the diffuser screen (self tamp) 
then it is the amount of grounds that most matters. If you fill the basket 
properly (not overfilled) then the tamp makes a considerable difference . . . 
on the Carimali, which meters water volume, it can change the extraction time 
over a range of at least three or four.  A grind that completely untamped might 
take 10 seconds to extract can take 45 seconds (or more) if aggressively 
overtamped. And yes, there is a notable difference in taste . . .
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13) From: EskWIRED
OTOH, some of us can tell if something weighs a full ounce, or whether it
weighs slightly less.  :)
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14) From: Keith Parker
Hi Dan,
Since no one else mentioned it, I'll add this in: it really makes a
difference to have a high quality tamper. The plastic ones that ship
with most espresso machines are not strong enough for the kinds of
pressure that is required.
Reg Barber makes the best tampers available, in my opinion. At risk of
violating list rules, I'll post the URL to his website:http://www.coffeetamper.com/As near as I can tell, Tom doesn't offer tampers on his website or I
would have posted a link to that appropriate section.
Keith Parker
There are only three things in life which are certain: death, taxes, and
software upgrades. 
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15) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
"If you change the grind, the tamp will change.  If you even get a new
filter basket, the tamp will change because different brands have slightly
different sized holes."
Dan is right.  However, I strongly believe that you should keep the tamp
constant and change the grind so that you get 1.5 oz of coffee using 16
grams of coffee extracted for 25 to 30 seconds; shoot for 28 seconds. 
The "proper" tamping that works for many people:
 - Assure that you have the right size of the tamper for your basket.
 - Fill the (preheated) double basket in the group head with 16 grams of
ground coffee. Be quick!
 - Assure that the coffee is level without any tamping.
 - Apply the tamper gently (5 pounds or less) straight down (!) to ensure a
level packing.
 - Tap (using the other end of the tamper) ONCE to remove coffee from the
 - Pack again straight down using 25 pounds to 30 pounds of pressure. Assure
that you are "level" with the top of the basket. It is important to be
consistent from shot to shot!
 - Release pressure to 5 pounds or less and twist the tamper at least 360º
to polish the surface.
 - You should see the dosing line in the basket and the coffee must be level
with it. If not -- discard and start over.
 - Let 2 ounces of water through the (empty) head to get it to the correct
 - Insert the group handle and immediately make 1.5 oz shot.  Verify that it
took between 25 to 30 seconds.
Be quick; the correct temperature is critical for a great cup of coffee!
And discard all the left over beans, and clean the grinder, unless you are
making another cup within seconds.
If you did not get 1.5 to 2.0 ounces in 25 to 30 seconds, adjust the grind
as needed and start over.  Do not change anything else!
Dan states that "...different coffees and even different roasts require
different tamping pressures. If a roast is quite dark and oily, the
particles tend to adhere more readily and you can clog the machine with the
same tamp that would be perfect for a roast just into second crack." He is
right; however, I believe that it is better to change the grind and keep the
tamping constant. That may be one of those "ask four people and you get five
different opinions" subjects.
As John wrote, The M5000 doesn't have adjustable tamp! I hope that the
designers know what they are doing. That seems to support my opinion, that
you should keep the tamping pressure constant and adjust the grind!
Hope this helps -- Lubos
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16) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
Keith wrote that "it really makes a difference to have a high quality
I fully agree.  However, I am not sure that "Reg Barber makes the best
tampers available." I agree that Reg Barber's tamper is the best looking,
elegant one. Functionally, I think that the Ergo-Tamper is equally good, if
not better. I consider the lines on the Ergo-Tamper a good help for
inexperienced people such as I.
I hope that Tom will start selling at least one of those two types. For more
information, use your favorite search engine.
Cheers, Lubos
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17) From: Dan Bollinger
I have an uncle who can tell if a shot of whiskey is a few drops short.  I
don't know how he does, just practice, I guess.  ;)  Dan
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18) From: The Scarlet Wombat
Absolutely true, a solid metal tamper is essential.  The ones with rosewood 
handles are nice, but unnecessary for all but true CSA members. [smile]
I have a very sturdy aluminum one that probably could withstand a ton of 
force and not bend, and it is marvelous.  I carry it when in dark alleys to 
thump would-be muggers on the forehead, works like a charm. [big grin]
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19) From: The Scarlet Wombat
Well, I can understand that, Dan.  I pay a premium for the best single malt 
and if I don't get exactly a shot, I am pretty unhappy.  When a drop has a 
measurable amount of gelt connected with it, one begins to care a great 
deal about those missing drops.
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20) From: Jeffrey A. Bertoia
I don't think any do.
When the guy came out to setup my La Cimbali Jr he gave me the wimpy 
little two sided
plastic tamper and said "of course you'll be getting rid of this"
For what I paid for that machine the tamper should have been 18K gold.
John Abbott wrote:
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21) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
John "wondered for a long time that if the tamp is so critical (and it is)
why don't the machine makers include a quality tamper? Does anyone actually
include a high quality tamper with their machine?"
I think it is often the "European approach" to things like that. Everybody
has his or her favorite good tamper, anyhow, so why waste money and selling
them another one, perhaps different from their favorite design? The
thermometer for the milk is not included, the pitcher for steaming is not
included, the cups are not included, etc.
Why to pay fifty dollars more for an espresso machine because a "good"
tamper is included?
Have you noticed that the Instruction manuals are often poor or nonexistent
for "standard" equipment made in Europe for European use? Perhaps you would
insult a woodworker by selling him an excellent plane and telling him or her
how to use it.
Nobody includes a good sharpening stone with each woodworking plane, or
chisel -- although you should sharpen it before the first use.
I understand that baristas in Italy still go through extensive training. In
the USA, you could perhaps walk into a *$ store and become "trained" in few
hours.  :-)
Cheers, Lubos
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22) From: Keith Parker
Actually, I bought my tamper from David Schomer (Espresso Vivace) at a
SCAA show I was able to crash last year while visiting my brother up in
Seattle. However, my Dad has one of Reg Barber's and I think it is a
nicer unit than my Vivace branded tamper. I'm not familiar with the
Ergo-Tamper but expect that it is equally good. In truth, we're probably
splitting hairs here because all of the $40 and up tampers are likely to
be very high quality products.
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23) From: DJ Garcia
So very true - I got mine from Whole Latte Love as soon as I saw them.
Great tamper!
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24) From: Rick Farris
Dan wrote:
Right, Dan.  Now go over to a UNIX newsgroup and ask "What's better, vi or
emacs?" and then a programming group and ask "What's better, C++ or Java?"
Generally speaking, there are three things that you can control in making
espresso: The grind, the tamp, and the volume.  The question of which is
most important, and how important that is, is, like programming languages
and editors, a religious question.
-- Rick
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25) From: Ben Treichel
Rick Farris wrote:
Thats easy, vi; and I have the beard and suspenders to back up my claim. 
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26) From: Dan Bollinger
Rick,  I didn't ask which was the most important, you did!  ;)  Dan
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27) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
"The grind, the tamp, and the volume.  The question of which is most
important, and how important that is, is, like programming languages and
editors, a religious question."
Rick, IMNSHO, all three are equally important. Other equally important
factors are good brewing water, brewing water temperature and your
"temperature surfing method". As was stated by Sig. Sergio Michael of Illy
Caffe at the SCAA summit on espresso several years back, each water
temperature gives you a different (espresso) coffee. There are many other
important factors such as sharp grinder burrs, freshness of the coffee and
how it was stored, pump pressure (should be between 8.2 and 9 bars), very
clean machine and very clean grinder, cool grinder (that does not overheat
the coffee), how long the pre-infusion cycle lasts, what espresso blend you
are using,   and perhaps others.  There are other things you cannot
control -- but you must adjust the grind for them, such as humidity and
barometric pressure, and to a lesser degree, the ambient temperature. (If
humidity decreases, you need a slightly finer grind.)
Why are all those factors "equally important"? Because, if any of them is
not optimal, you do not get a great cup of coffee.  That is perhaps the
reason why, outside of Northern Italy, you so rarely taste a really great
cup of espresso. Heavy red-brown crema that has texture you can feel.
Intense coffee flavor without a trace of bitterness. Natural sweetness from
the sugars present in the coffee bean. A drink that tastes as good as
freshly ground coffee smells.
Anyone can make bad espresso. Most people do. "Failure to meet any of these
critical factors will ruin your espresso and produce insipid, runny, bitter,
burnt, or lifeless coffee. Every shot is a chemistry experiment. Some might
call it alchemy - - or even magic", wrote David Bills.
Have a nice day, Lubos.
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28) From: The Scarlet Wombat
Making good espresso is like playing a violin concerto.  You need to know 
some of the science, it gives you the ability to alter things that you 
suspect could be wrong, it allows you to analyze where defects may lurk to 
sabotoge your cup...or second movement.
But, the final production of music and espresso is a work of art, not of 
science.  Without science, we would not understand and our art would be 
defective or deficient, but once the science is incorporated, the actual 
act of brewing or playing is not scientific, but, if you will, a spiritual 
act of artistry.
I know, I know, being an ersatz Buddhist has ruined me, I see everything in 
spiritual ways.
Now, it is early and time to go perform the morning rituals of coffee 
making and sacrificing of the roasted bean to the cup and the senses.
Aum mane padma java...aum mane padma java...
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29) From: EskWIRED
So why not vary each one to your best advantage, given the variables you
have no control over?  I would think, for example, that oily coffee should
be tamped less hard than dry coffee.  I'd also think that the volume should
be altered depending on how the pour is going, and that the volume should be
altered depending on the intensity of flavor of the beans.
Why do people advocate giving up control over variables, instead of alter
ring each and every one?
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30) From: James Gundlach
On Saturday, September 14, 2002, at 12:59 AM, Rick Farris wrote:
Unless you have a very good grinder,  you will have a lot more control 
over tamp and volume and my main article of faith is to put as much in 
as it will hold, tamping is the variable I have the most control over.
Jim Gundlach
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31) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
"Unless you have a very good grinder,  you will have a lot more control over
tamp and volume and my main article of faith is to put as much in as it will
hold, tamping is the variable I have the most control over."
You are right, Jim. However, as Jeff correctly wrote, "the issue with
tamping is the hydraulic channeling that can occur when it is not correct.
The whole purpose of tamping is to provide a uniform density in the puck
that will not allow the water to channel through it.  This is important to
insure that all the grounds are equally extracted."
Remember, the brewing water is under 120 pounds of force. The water will try
a "least resistance" path through the ground coffee. When it finds that
path, it will go through it, not extracting the coffee.
If you pack too softly, or do not "polish" the surface after tamping
straight down, the water will create its own path of least resistance.
Also, if you use too much coffee, you will not leave enough space for the
coffee to expand during brewing.  Most people agree that the ideal gap is
about 1/8 of an inch or about 3mm, just below the screw that is protruding
from the screen. The brewing water needs the gap to spread evenly over the
whole surface during the lower water pressure pre-infusion part of the
brewing cycle. If there is not enough room for the coffee to expand, the
crema suffers.  I do not think you can get the velvety or silky mouth feel
of the crema without the proper tamping and leaving the proper gap.
May I suggest, Jim, that you try the "constant tamping method" as compared
to you "variable tamping" method and tell us the results? (Keep the tamping
the same and change the grind to get the "proper volume and time" shot.)
Don't you get better crema with better mouth feel with the "constant and
correct" tamping?
Cheers, Lubos
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32) From: Gary Zimmerman
EskWIRED responded:
I think it's more a case of "one at a time".  It's not that you can't 
control several variables, but to do the experimental work, you need to 
just vary and perfect one at a time.  It's impossible to figure out what 
you did right or wrong when several things are changing 
simultaneously.  But you all know that.
-- garyZ
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33) From: Mike McGinness
From: "Gary Zimmerman" 
I've been catching up on the list since yesterday and following this thread
formulating a reply when Gary sends virtually exactly what I was going to
say! When working to learn and perfect a shot for a given bean at a given
roast change only one variable at a time. Grind being the first common
change for me when going from bean to bean, or roast to roast. For instance
I consistently find Panama needs slightly less fine grind than Kona for the
same degree of roast, same weight of bean, same(ish) tamp. I do 'attempt' to
keep tamp about the same, about 30#, but I haven't pulled out the bathroom
scale in months to test my tamping pressure (and probably should again...:)
I've also come to realize I only have a marginally acceptable grinder for
espresso purposes, the Solis Maestro...
I definitely agree espresso brewing is a high art possible to really develop
only after understanding the science.
Home Ju-Ju Variable Variac Rockin' Rosto Roasting in Vancouver, WA USA
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34) From: Gary Zimmerman
Mike wrote:
Great minds, eh? :)
Yes.  I tried briefly, then gave up, because for me at the time it wasn't 
worth the effort and bother (cleanup time) to get a little demitasse of 
coffee.  I didn't think I liked "Americanos" (though I realize now I've 
probably never had a proper one).
But you might have seen in my next message that I did re-think the "one 
variable at a time" thing.  I still believe that you have to experiment 
like that at first to get the techniques down, but I also understand the 
other point about how changing one variable might change the 'optimal' 
points of the others.
It's frustrating and Heisenbergian - you have to get a gestalt or zen or 
grok of the coffee whole.  Once you've played with the variables 
individually, and understand the effects of each, THEN you can begin to 
vary all simultaneously, with a better-informed understanding of what the 
effects of changing any one will do to the others.  It's much like many crafts.
-- garyZ
it ain't easy being equivocal
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35) From: Rick Farris
Jim wrote:
On that note, we celebrated my birthday today (I turned 51 on the 12th), and
my brother gave me a Reg Barber tamper with my name engraved on the top.
-- Rick
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36) From: Scott Jensen
Happy Birthday Rick!  A gift like that is worth having a birthday for! :)  I
just bought myself a Reg barber tamper, a 57.2mm- fits like a glove, and so
beautiful as well.
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37) From: Rick Farris
Scott wrote:
Thanks, Scott.  BTW, I want to see a copy of your greens inventory, with the
same set of questions I asked Mike. :-)
-- Rick
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38) From: Mark Prince
At 08:52 PM 14/09/2002, Rick Farris wrote:
Brothers rock!
Happy birthday Rick!
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39) From: R.N.Kyle
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Happy Birthday Rick
Hope you have many more. Nice gift, a good espresso machine is on my =
wish list. 
Ron Kyle
a coffee roaster from South Carolina

40) From: Scott Jensen
I wasn't getting enough compliments from the Solis alone, but that rosewood
handled tamper sitting on top does the trick!  Especially when I stop the
machine, remove the brew unit and attempt to manually tamp, while expounding
on the fact that people think I'm obsessive, but they are so wrong!! :)

41) From: The Scarlet Wombat
Scott, rosewood definitely adds flavor to the shots, but Philippine Monkey 
Wood is even better, the high oil content and reverse spin of the electrons 
in the G shell make for the finest of tampers.
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42) From: Scott Jensen
Man, I gotta have one of those!!  Where can I get one? :)

43) From: Angelo
Well, today( 15th, Virgos rule, Rick!) I turned 64, and guess what? I 
didn't get a Reg Barber(or any other ) tamper. :-(
Oh, well. I guess I'll just have to keep using those vitamin jar 
caps...<--not kidding, here... :-)
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44) From: Jeffrey A. Bertoia
Happy Birthday Angelo
Angelo wrote:
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45) From: R.N.Kyle
Ciao, happy birthday, and many more, I got a laugh at the vitamin jar =
lid, because I use small juice jar actually it fits quite well .
Ron Kyle
Anderson SC

46) From: R.N.Kyle
Sorry I think I got the wrong name for the birthday boy
Ron Kyle
Anderson SC

47) From: AlChemist John
Sometime around 15:26 9/15/02, The Scarlet Wombat typed:
John Nanci 
AlChemist at large
Roasting and Blending by Gestalt
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48) From: Prabhakar Ragde
Angelo wrote:
If you have a Pavoni Pro and want a seriously concave (not convex)
tamper, try the bottom of a bottle of Bufalo brand chipotle sauce. I
bet we could get lots of mileage out of a "worst tamper"
thread. "Yeah! I use the round end of a standard chopstick! I get
done tamping for my morning shot around lunchtime..." 
--PR who, not having a brother, indulged himself with a Reg Barber
  tamper a few years back
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49) From: Les & Becky
I beg to differ with you!  My custom turned tampers are much better than the
Reg Barber tamper!   I am behind on my production, and Tom is next in
line to get one.
So far nobody has talked about technique.  I read in one of the articles
threaded on here about technique and I found that it made a big difference.
I put about half of my coffee in and tamp.  I then put in the second half
and tamp to 40-50 pounds with at least two turns of twist.  This method has
really improved my extraction and the puck is very even when I dump it out
of the basket.
Roasting and turning in S. Oregon
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50) From: Les & Becky
My improved custom version is hopefully going to have an African Blackwood
base, the hardest non-toxic wood in the world!  Your really don't need
metal, if you use a good hardwood!
Roasting and turning in S.Oregon
P.S.  The Reg Barber is not really Rosewood, it is Bubinga.  When I was in
Africa, we used Bubinga to make two by fours and two by sixes for
construction.  It really isn't that rare of a wood, and it has stolen the
name rosewood just as Philippine Mahogany stole the name Mahogany!

51) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
Lignum-Vitae (its name, from the Latin, means "wood of life") is
non-contaminating to foods and is ideally suited for applications where this
quality is desirable. It is also self-lubricating; that could help in the
polishing phase of tamping.
Les, wouldn't Lignum-Vitae be an excellent material for tampers? Why don't
you use that for your improved version? This time, I am quite serious.
Perhaps you could send me you pre-production 58mm sample to try.
Lignum-Vitae density is 1.25-1.33 g/cc, while the African Blackwood
(Dalbergia Melanoxylon, mpingo) is "only" 1.200 g/cc, I believe -- or am I
Cheers, Lubos
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52) From: Les & Becky
First, Thanks for the tamping review, I have been sloppy, and I just pulled
a "god shot" because of paying attention again!  I thought about using
Lignum-Vitae, but it is more has more oil than blackwood.  I will try your

53) From: David Westebbe
On Tue, 17 Sep 2002, Les & Becky wrote:
I have a Bubinga countertop.  Isn't it an extremely hard wood?  As in so
hard it dulls your saw?
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54) From: Prabhakar Ragde
Les wrote:
I have been doing this for quite some time, and it has improved my
shots. I also keep a short section of two-by-four on the counter and,
after I put in each half of the ground coffee, I tap the bottom of the
portafilter sharply on it a couple of times to "pre-level" the grinds
before tamping. This has the added advantage of waking up everyone
else in the house. --PR
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55) From: Wendy Austin & Thomas Oswin
On 16/9/02 8:24, "John Abbott"  wrote:
I will second that - Happy birthday Angelo from yet another Virgo.
This Virgo is currently loving the 6 degrees, wet and windy weather in
Tasmania.  Haven't found any green beans yet but will keep looking.
Wendy Austin & Thomas Oswin
Coastal Road
Mauritius Island
Tel/ans/fax  (230) 6257399
Mobile  (230) 2560182   •
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56) From: John Abbott
I was worried that Wendy had slipped a cog -people don't enjoy
themselves at 6 degrees, they might enjoy what they are doing but not 6
degrees!  Then I sobered up and realized that Wendy is from a cultured
society and that she was in 6 degrees CELSIUS!  Oh, OK people can have
fun in 43 degrees :O)  Enjoy the cool Wendy - the heat must be in the
Islands because its even cool here in southern Texas this morning 
On Tue, 2002-09-17 at 18:09, Wendy Austin & Thomas Oswin wrote:
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57) From: Les & Becky
You are correct David!  It is very hard,(that is why God invented Carbide!)
but it doesn't have the beauty of Rosewood.  That isn't to say that there
isn't some great looking Bubinga out there.  I have seen some "to die for"
Bubinga burls and figured wood, but it just isn't Rosewood as Reg says it
Being picky, but we are a picky group or we would have all these different
coffees in our stashes.

58) From: Rich M
I've been watching the Gaggia + Rocky thread with interest. No  
Gaggia, but my first espresso machine (Anita) is due here today. Are  
there any tips or tricks out there in regards to tamping? Or, is it  
simply a matter of packing it down, and if the shot comes out too  
quickly, pack it down a bit harder next time. I've read that keeping  
the grounds even and smooth on top is important. I have so much to  
Rich M
On Feb 23, 2007, at 5:06 PM, Carole Zatz wrote:

59) From: Carole Zatz
On 2/23/07, Rich M  wrote:
As am I. One of the few items I had the most difficulty in selecting
was a tamper. I eventually ended up with a Bumper convex Classic top.
This is just a crapshoot. I'm a woman so my hands aren't huge but my
fingers are long so who knows what size handle to get??? I just
finally threw up my hands and picked one. Every place I called said
just buy one, try it, and then figure out what you'd change. As far as
proper tamping technique I've been checking out www.home-barista.com
and they have some information. I'd love to find a good (great) local
barista but I haven't found any yet (still looking). So much to try
and learn! Great fun!!

60) From: Cameron Forde
Keep your tamp constant and adjust your grinder.
On 2/23/07, Rich M  wrote:

61) From: Brett Mason
Tamp with 30lb pressure.  Practice on a bathroom scale so you have a referent...
Tamp with a thortamper - they're just better.
On 2/23/07, Cameron Forde  wrote:

62) From: Michael Dhabolt
A comment a while back from one of the masters:
  >The expert consensus is that any tamp or none, consistently applied,
works. The real trick is to< >distribute and level the grinds perfectly,
paying special attention that there are no gaps around the edge. Jim
Schulman <
Emphasis on "consistently applied".  As has been mentioned the 30 # tamp
measured on a bathroom scale is easy (and you can check yourself
periodically).  Folks used to religeously use double that pressure until
high volume shop baristas started having wrist problems.
Two ounces (or one and a half) in 25 to 30 seconds, using a consistent
tamp....zeroing in on the time by adjusting the grinder.  When this becomes
second nature, you will start to develop your own personal technique that
invariably is just a bit different than someone elses.  When you have the
consistent part down pat - you will find that minor variations in dosing and
tamping may become part of your repertoire, when going for particular
You can find a plethora of information on these subjects at
HomeBarista.comin their 'How-To' section and by doing searches in the
Mike (just plain)

63) From: Paul Jolly
I'll echo miKe's comments: for all things espresso, you've gotta read home-barista.com.
  Here's a link to the technique I've been using with considerable success:
Sucker-punch spam with award-winning protection.
 Try the free Yahoo! Mail Beta.

64) From: raymanowen
"So much to try and learn! Great fun!!"
Absolutely right, Carole. Brewing excellent espresso shots is an art that
you will learn only by practice.
From the looks and specifications of it, the Gaggias are good learning
machines and should serve well beyond the Novice learning curve.
So far, it's almost an accident that I brew a drinkable shot. When you use
SM's espresso blend greens to start, it's almost like shooting fish in a
barrel- you'll hit one "every shot."
As Brett said, if you like a coffee as a drip, it can sparkle as an espresso
Remember, the purpose of tamping is to pack the grounds close enough so they
offer resistance to water flow when you pump the water through. That creates
the XX bars of back pressure when you have a constant flow rate electric
pump. All that you can control is the packing density of the puck.
When I pack the grounds with a tamper alone, it's usually not a
homogeneously dense puck. I have been tapping down the ground coffee in the
filter as I grind, and finish packing with a 25# - 30# tamp with a rocking
and rolling motion of the convex tamper. This doesn't always solve the
I think I just figured out part of my error. The convex shaped tamper foot
and my wobbling of it cause shear planes in the puck. These fissure and
allow slightly greater water flow through the puck in several small channels
that over extract. It could be a honeycomb pattern of channeling, but it
causes a great reduction of the extraction in the rest of the puck.
Cheers -RayO, aka Opa!
This Weeble shouldn't wobble!

65) From: Ross
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
You are thinking too much, again!
  I think I just figured out part of my error. The convex shaped tamper =
foot and my wobbling of it cause shear planes in the puck. These fissure =
and allow slightly greater water flow through the puck in several small =
channels that over extract. It could be a honeycomb pattern of =
channeling, but it causes a great reduction of the extraction in the =
rest of the puck. 
  Cheers -RayO, aka Opa!
  This Weeble shouldn't wobble!

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