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Topic: tamp vs. no tamp (37 msgs / 765 lines)
1) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
"However, my further researches lead me to believe proper tamp does improve
how evenly the shot extracts."
I fully agree, Mike. I think that David Schomer theory is correct.  Uneven
(or very low pressure) tamp creates some lower resistance path(s) through
the ground coffee. Water finds the least resistance way to go through the
beans and over-extracts part of the coffee. Over-extracted coffee makes the
drink bitter.
I made two shots from the same coffee ground the same way and tamped my
"regular way" and tried the very low tamp. The very low tamped coffee was
more bitter. I was using our Miss Téa, which is said to be relatively
insensitive to variations; there may be more variations from other machines.
I also agree that 30 pounds is not a magical number, and that consistency of
the tamp is important. I believe that consistent 25 pounds would be a good
solution; but I do not know for sure.
I think I have a split personality when comes to tamping etc.  I like those
"built-in pressure gauge" ideas Cathy started. But I also like to mystique
of making the espresso the old-fashioned way, by hand and feel and sound ...
the art of coffee making.
Otherwise, we could create a super automatic machine that does it all for
you -- push a button and drink the coffee.
Cheers, Lubos
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2) From: Dan Bollinger
<Snip>
of
<Snip>
Of course it is not magical, otherwise they would be specifying pounds per
square inch.  Just think about it. Filters come in many sizes, but the
experts say 30 pounds for all of them.  If tamping pressure was critical
they would be saying something like 35 pounds for 58mm filters, 32 pounds
for 56mm, etc.  Or something like this which would relate force to the area
(i.e. pounds per square inch).  But since they don't, then the actual psi
doesn't matter.  What is probably more important is a tamp that is
sufficiently compacted and consistently applied shot to shot.  Dan
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3) From: Jeffrey A. Bertoia
Dan
It is pretty much specified that way, I believe that more than 90% of 
commercial portafilters are
58mm.  I think that most of the smaller filters are used on home 
machines.  Even most of the
semi-commercial machines use 58 mm filters.  The E61 being one of the 
most common.
But I also agree that there is nothing magic about thirty-five pounds. 
 It needs to be enough to
prevent channeling.  I read a lot of Schomer when I was trying to 
improve my shots so I
generally tamp between 30 and 35.
jeff
Dan Bollinger wrote:
<Snip>
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4) From: James Gundlach
On Thursday, September 26, 2002, at 12:23 PM, Irene and Lubos Palounek 
wrote:
<Snip>
I've gone the bathroom scales training method but I find that it is not 
long before my tamp is no longer near what I tuned it to with the 
scales.  Somehow, I just don't seem to remember the sense of weight very 
well.  If there was the clicker tamper that told me what was right with 
immediate feed-back, I think I could learn the thirty pounds feel 
better.  Anyway, that bathroom scales on the kitchen counter mystique, 
my wife thinks I would be better without it.
Jim Gundlach
getting soaked in
La Place, Alabama
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5) From: Al Raden
I don't understand the obsession with 30 pounds...  I have no idea what 
my tamp pressure is - but it's consistent and fairly firm (how's that 
for precision?).  My shots take 25 seconds, give or take a second or 
two, to give me a 2 oz. double.
I suspect your wife doesn't like the bathroom scales on the kitchen 
counter because it's so hard to get up there to weigh yourself.
- al r.
James Gundlach wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
- Al Raden
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6) From: Dan Bollinger
<Snip>
A common, human condition.  Most people are very poor at this, even with
practice.  Dan
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7) From: Jim Schulman
I suspect that how much tamping matters depends on how the espresso machine works for the first 
few seconds of the shot. 
After that, you have the pump pressing down at 9 bars, or 135lbs per square inch. That's roughly 
220lb total for a commercial basket, or 185lb for a home one. Even the most obsessed tamper 
won't manage that.
My guess, if you pack the coffee so that it comes up against the showerhead, and the machine has 
a long preinfusion, tamping is simply irrelevent, the puck is wetted down and compacted before 
any serious pressure can damage it. If there's an air gap between the shower head and puck, and 
the machine has no preinfusion, a firm tamp does make sense, since the turbulence of the initial 
few seconds could damage the puck.
Danny, for instance, who started the no-tamp thread on alt.coffee, uses Gaggia levers, which are 
packed and preinfused. I found firm tamping to be important for consistency with my SL70, 
whereas I've become very relaxed about it with the Tea, which preinfuses and likes to be 
overpacked.
Jim
Jim
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8) From: NOEL HONG
Jim, I agree with you up to a point.  With my Tea/Mazzer comb I've started 
tamping at lower pressure than before (Gaggia/Maestro days). Old tamp was 
"excessive" pressure. Basically all the body wt I could generate.  Now down 
to 30+/-3#.  The Tea seems to be a very forgiving machine for tamp &  grind 
latitude. I still feel even with the Tea & the manual pre-infusion + the 
nice gently pressure build up channeling through and around the puck may 
occur without tamping and light tamping (haven't bothered to find out the 
absolute minimum tamping pressure required). I preinfuse for 5-7sec. Shots 
range from 30-50ml over 23-25sec. I terminate the shot based on looks more 
than time. What do you define as a "long preinfusion"?
<Snip>
Noel V. Hong
email: nhong32590
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9) From: Jim Schulman
Noel, I usually get similar preinfusion and shot times to you. I also follow the practice of stopping 
the shot on color (step away from the machine if you don't).
As a prelim to writing this, I tried a "super-tamp" in the LM swift style. I loaded the basket 1/3, 
gave a heavy tamp, another 1/3, etc. The preinfusion lasted 11 seconds, the entire shot 28 seconds, 
and there was zero difference between it and my regular shot.
Jim
On 26 Sep 2002 at 17:38, NOEL HONG wrote:
<Snip>
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10) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
"With my Tea ... I preinfuse for 5-7sec."
Noel, how do you control the pre-infusion time on your Miss Téa? We, too,
have an Isomac Téa and the way I use her is that I put the lever in the "up"
[horizontal] position. The machine pre-infuses automatically for some five
to seven seconds, as I can watch on the manometer. But I think that I have
no control over the length of pre-infusion.
Thanks for your help, Lubos
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11) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
DJ mentioned time.
That is an important thought even from another point of view -- how long
does the whole procedure take? I think that the refilling - tamping
procedure should be done quite quickly; the portafilter is hot and you do
not want to lose much of the heat in it.
Remove - wipe - insert into the coffee mill = about a second.
Fill with freshly ground beans = perhaps four seconds?
While grinding and filling, I let another two ounces of water out of the
group.
Level - pretamp - tap - tamp - polish - clean the side - reinsert = about
three seconds
About 8 seconds after removing the portafilter, hot water is sprayed on the
coffee and the pre-infusion cycle starts. Wouldn't inserting the portafilter
into some pressure-measuring gadget  (which should not be made from cold
metal as you do not want to cool the portafilter more than absolutely
necessary) add more of the "cooling" time?
There is also question of the tolerances and self-centering.  I believe that
for the 58mm basket (which is really fraction of a millimeter larger) the
hand-held tamper should have 58mm diameter and is easy to center by feel.
How would that work in a "lever-operated" gadget?
Perhaps the line inside the basket and lines on some of the tampers are the
"optimized" design; simple and it works.
Here again, I am playing the devil's advocate and possibly would acquire a
pressure-indicating tamper or build some torque- operated gadget :-)
Cheers, Lubos
P.S.
Some people weight the coffee, others measure the volume. We all know that
different coffees have different densities. What role do those factors play?
For now, I think I will stop worrying and stick to the KISS and "If it ain't
broke, don't fix it" philosophies. Those "split personalities" often create
problems  :-)
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12) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
Thank you, Ed, for your good comments.
An observation to something you wrote:
"Anyone here ever closely watch Italian baristas at work?"
That is an excellent questions. I hope we will get some good answers.
It has been some years since our visit to Italy, but as I remember, I think
that the Italian baristas tamped with good force, but were doing it so
effortlessly that it might look like "a light tamp".
In another thread, someone referred to the "micro-foam" as a "new school". I
think that is not correct. I remember seeing micro-foamed milk in Italy and
Germany many, many years ago. Perhaps that is one of that things that, while
being transformed into the USA, were subjected to the "bigger is better"
philosophy. "If micro-foamed milk is good, large head of stiff foam must be
better!"
Cheers, Lubos
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13) From: Jeffrey A. Bertoia
Irene and Lubos Palounek wrote:
<Snip>
I agree completely.  Every barista I watched over there tamped firmly. 
 Including in the hotels
etc...
<Snip>
I also agree on this.  I didn't ever see a barista spooning foam on a 
cappa, it always poured naturally.
Milk for a latte had no froth at all and was only streamed.  This you 
get to see first hand since when
you order it in a hotel it is delivered unassembled.  The coffee is 
served in something larger than a
cappa cup and the steamed milk is served in the pitcher.
ciao
jeff
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14) From: EskWIRED
  If there was the clicker tamper that told me what was
<Snip>
You need a torque wrench.  They click at a predetermined amount of torque.
Go to a flea market or a garage sale (or home depot) and get a small drill
press, ideally one made for a Dremel Moto tool.  Attach the torque wrench in
place of the handle, and then set it and forget it.
You could rout out a piece of wood which would fit your portafilter exactly,
and attach it to the base.  Wood is a decent insulator, so it would keep the
portafilter warm during the 1 1/2 seconds it would take to tamp.
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15) From: jim gundlach
I decided to do a patent search to see if anything came up.  If you go 
to:
  http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/search-bool.htmland enter espress for term 1 and tamp for term 2 you should come up with 
two items. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click [Images] to 
see them.  I find both interesting.
   What I had in mind was something like the Automatic espresso tamp that 
had a sensing element in the handle.  That is, as I was pushing down, I 
would get a click like I do from the torque wrench.  I think I know how 
it could be made but I don't have the time to describe it right now.
I find the Coffee grinding, portioning, and pressuring device quite 
interesting.  It would probably be fairly expensive but interesting in 
that it looks like it could eliminate a lot of mess also.  If anyone has 
time to spare, the referenced patents would be worth exploring.
Jim Gundlach
roasting over pecan wood fires
in La Place, Alabama
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16) From: jim gundlach
On Friday, September 27, 2002, at 08:39 AM, jim gundlach wrote:
<Snip>
That should be espresso for term 1.
Sorry,
Jim Gundlach
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17) From: Dan Bollinger
<Snip>
This is a Design Patent and only covers the look of the object (which in my
opinion is about a 2 on a scale of 0=ugly and 10MA).  Design Patents cost
a lot an take longer to obtain than a Utility Patent. The work 'automatic'
in the title is confusing since this word describes function which is only
covered in a Utility Patent.  Apparently, there is more to this design than
is disclosed here and the owner is either quite dumb in the patents, has
decided to keep the function a trade secret, or has given up on the project.
<Snip>
Yes, this is a valuable design.  The rotary tamper is very nice feature to
the regular grinder/doser.  This would be a good addition next to a triple
station automatic in a busy store.  Dan
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18) From: JKG
From: Irene and Lubos Palounek 
<Snip>
school". I
<Snip>
Italy and
<Snip>
that, while
<Snip>
better"
<Snip>
must be
<Snip>
I said "old school", Lubos, not "old world".  Perhaps I
should have just said that there are at least two ways
of preparing milk-based drinks.  I've not had the privilege
to visit Italy and have not watched tamping or preparation
of microfoth there.  With two young children, it won't be
happening anytime soon.
My point was that there is not just one proper way to make
a milk-based drink.  It's a matter of personal taste.  Some
people like that dollop of stiff milk on top.  Traditionally,
stiff foam has been prepared in America's espresso shops.
Microfroth is slowly catching on here.
For people who are internet-savvy and can play video
files, here is a movie containing one shop's presentation
of the different ways to steam milk.  I ran across this
movie while learning how to steam on my commercial
machine awhile back.http://www.customcoffee.com/video/foaming-milk-lg.ram(dialup connection)">http://www.customcoffee.com/video/foaming-milk-lg.ram(broadband connection)http://www.customcoffee.com/video/foaming-milk-lg.ram(dialup connection)
JKG
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19) From: Angelo
I'm not sure if it was someone on the list who came up with homemade tamper 
with a spring in the handle which would, at a pre-determined pressure, push 
up a bolt so that you would feel it in your palm...It's a real low tech 
approach, although it does require a bit of skill...Anyone have the link?
Angelo
<Snip>
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20) From: Dan Bollinger
Angelo, Great minds think alike! That's the design I've been working on the
past two weeks.  I've even built a prototype and the feedback of the 'bolt'
is sufficient.  It is straight forward, inexpensive, accurate and reasonalby
precise. Certainly better than an educated guess!  I'm going to add the
proper size spring soon and use the digital scale at work to see just how
well it performs.
<Snip>
tamper
<Snip>
push
<Snip>
to:
<Snip>
see
<Snip>
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21) From: Andrew Thomas
Check out John Crankshaw's calibrated tamper. I found this by searching alt.coffee.http://home.att.net/~jcrankshaw/tamper.htmFree e-mail!  you
A service of www.WallaWallaGuide.com
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22) From: Angelo
That's the one I was talking about...
Thanks
Angelo
<Snip>
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23) From: Ed Needham
In my coffeehouse, back in the seventies, stiff foam dolloped on top was the
norm.  None of the coffeehouses I visited back then valued a 'microfoam type'
steamed milk.  The term 'latte' was not yet invented.  Cafe au Lait was the
same drink though.  Layering was really popular then, but latte art was not.
I'm sure there are exceptions somewhere though.
Ed Needhamhttp://www.homeroaster.comed
****************************************
**********************************************

24) From: Simpson
I hadn't heard of 'microfoam' until Bogie-san came back from Schomerville
raving about it on alt.coffee IIRC. He was just back from SCAA, the date
was 1998/04/27 and he called microfoam 'chiffon'. Here's a link to a google
search.http://makeashorterlink.com/?C100510F1Wow, it seems like just yesterday. Also from his FAQ of that era (V6.1):
"North Americans tend to want their milk foamed until it forms into dry
peaks and that's tough to do with home machines. Personally, I prefer a
softer
and gooey froth. It tastes better and insulates the drink just as well.
      Then there is milk chiffon; the velvety thick micro-bubbly foam that
is
so difficult to prepare at home. The remarkable mouth sensation of
delicately
chiffoned milk makes cappuccino an unbelievably elegant drink. Takes
practice."
I'll say...
Ted
*********** REPLY SEPARATOR  ***********
On 9/28/2002 at 12:55 AM Ed Needham wrote:
<Snip>
the
<Snip>
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25) From: Jim Schulman
I don't recall getting microfoam on Italian vacations 
in the 70s and 80s. The best cappas had a very soft, 
creamy foam; but it floated on top, rather than folding 
into the coffee. Perhaps microfoam is a Seattle 
contribution to the art of espresso making?
Jim
On 28 Sep 2002 at 1:19, Simpson wrote:
<Snip>
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26) From: NOEL HONG
Lubos,
During manual pre-infusion (partial up on the lever) the cam applies slight 
pressure to the button switch allowing the water to flow without the pump 
being activated.  You can hear it. The basic concept of pre-infusion 
according to Schomer is to prevent the sudden high pressure blast from 
pitting the puck. The Tea in the pump activated position seems to build up 
pressure at an even "gentle" rate(automatic pre-infusion?).  I'm not sure if 
the manual pre-infusion is necessary.  I've always used the manual 
pre-infusion function just for fun/control/the "cool" factor. The button 
switch is adjustable.  Factory setting required me to hold the lever. A half 
rotation of the switch allowed be let the lever hang free and pre-infuse.
<Snip>
Noel V. Hong
email: nhong32590
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27) From: Scott Jensen
I think the one I saw actually had a spring inside, that at 30lbs would
release and snap giving you an indication you had pressed hard enough.
Scott
<Snip>
tamper
<Snip>
push
<Snip>
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28) From: Angelo
Snip...
The basic concept of pre-infusion according to Schomer is to prevent the 
sudden high pressure blast from pitting the puck.
If this is, indeed, the reason for pre-infusion, may i suggest to those of 
you who do not have pre-infusion built into your machine that you try using 
the semi(demi-, hemi-) pods.
For those of you who are not familiar with this concept, here it is...
Cut a circular shape from a paper coffee filter (I like the Melitta 
micro-pore filters) to fit inside your filter basket. Wet it and place this 
on TOP of your ground, tamped coffee. Proceed as usual....
The filter definitely disperses the water so that it won't "shock" the puck 
and, as an added benefit, makes it easier to clean the shower head...
Although it sounds like a PITA at first, it's really not that much of a 
chore. The filters are reusable for a couple of times, as the coffee isn't 
extracted through them, and you can cut a bunch of them at once, quite 
quickly. Some people on alt.coffee were even looking into paper punches to 
"automate" the process. I find that to be unnecessary...
Give it a try, and let us know whachya think.....
Ciao,
Angelo
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29) From: Les & Becky
I hate to bring up an old thread again, but I have the next two days off,
and I had time to play this AM.  I found that in my espresso machine,
tamping makes a big difference.  I also paid attention to my polishing, and
found that it had a profound effect on the color of the crema, as well as
the duration of the pull.  By putting a good polish on, I increased the pull
by 5-8 sec., and the shot seemed to have more body.  This is good news as I
have been gearing up to make some more custom tampers out of some really
nice wood!  With no tamp and my Maestro set on the finest grind, the coffee
just went through way too fast, and I had a thin cup of coffee.  I didn't
try tamping this fine of a grind as per the previous posts.  So, I will
continue to tamp.  My wife really noticed a deep cinnamon aftertaste in the
CR LaMineta  Cappuccino that I made when I tamped and polished properly.
She thought it was really good!  I must say, it is the best CR LaMineta that
I have had too!
However, I drank it as an Americano.
Les
Trying to catch up on all the posts!
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30) From: Angelo
I think the "Tamp vs. no tamp" is a bit misleading... Rather than "no tamp" 
perhaps we should refer to it as "group head tamp" or "shower screen tamp". 
I've been using the machine head tamp recently and have found that I am 
getting better tasting espressi.
I use a combination of tamper(very lightly) and a very tight wrenching of 
the portafilter.
The main thing, I've found, is to have enough coffee in the basket...enough 
to cause a resistance when you tighten the PF. After a while, you can get 
the feel of the resistance and know when it's right. I seem to be able to 
sense this pressure much better than I can that of the vertical tamping.
Just remember to put enough coffee in the basket...:-)
Ciao,
Angelo
<Snip>
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31) From: Gary Zimmerman
<Snip>
Hi Angelo,
Doesn't that get old coffee grounds packed inside of the showerscreen head?
I'm not an espresso maker - I did have a rather brief stint using a Pavoni 
Europiccola that a friend loaned me for a month or so.  The very first 
thing I did with the machine was disassemble the head (it needed a new 
gasket somewhere, and I wanted to familiarize myself with the thing).
When I opened up the group head, it was black with residue: spent grounds 
that must have been very old and in there a long time.  I gave the thing a 
good cleaning, but was surprised to see that, considering the pressure that 
comes through the head, anything could get in there and stay in there.
Since I didn't try making espresso before the cleaning, and I never really 
got the knack of pulling espressos in the short time I tried it, I can't 
say whether the cleaning made any difference to the final result.  But your 
technique - which sounds incredibly practical and easy - struck me as 
something that would lead to a lot of muck in there very quickly.
-- garyZ
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32) From: The Scarlet Wombat
I should think that the amount of pressure behind the water in the shower 
head of the espresso machine, 9 to 10 atmospheres, would make sure no stale 
grounds inhabited that device.
Dan
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33) From: Jeffrey A. Bertoia
Dan
You would think so but that is certainly not how it works.
Especially on a machine with a three way valve.  I clean my
machine about 3 times a week and disassemble the shower
head once a week an
The Scarlet Wombat wrote:
<Snip>
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34) From: James Gundlach
On Friday, October 4, 2002, at 04:26 PM, The Scarlet Wombat wrote:
<Snip>
Not the case at all.  If the filter is left on the machine while it 
cools, leftovers  gets pulled back up into the machine.  Subsequent 
discharges of pressurized water bypass the stuff and it can build up 
over time.  Packing the coffee with the head will certainly lead to it 
getting dirty and hurting the flavor of the espresso.
Jim Gundlach
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35) From: David Lewis
At 12:23 PM -0500 9/26/02, Irene and Lubos Palounek wrote:
<Snip>
At SCAA, I had an interesting conversation with Tim O'Conner of 
Pacific Espresso. He has a close relationship with ESI, and was in on 
the development of the Swift grinder. He said that they'd done some 
experiments with a transparent portafilter and basket, and that 
they'd discovered that a standard tamp only compresses a layer of 
coffee at the top of the basket. They could actually see the water 
channeling sideways below the top layer. That was one of the reasons 
for developing the continuous tamp that the Swift does. He said that 
when he makes coffee at home, he tamps in three equally-dosed stages. 
I've gone to that, and it does seem to make for a more consistent and 
more flavorful cup.
Best,
	David
-- 
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or 
that we are to stand by the President right or wrong, is not only 
unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American 
public."
     -- Theodore Roosevelt
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36) From: David Lewis
At 7:43 AM -0400 9/27/02, EskWIRED wrote:
<Snip>
Somebody on alt.coffee made a calibrated tamper about a year ago; you 
could do a search. The basic idea was that the handle was 
spring-loaded against the tamper itself with a 30 lb preload on the 
spring. When it moved, the head of the bolt that held the thing 
together pressed into the user's palm, thus signaling the right 
pressure. Pretty simple, actually.
Best,
	David
-- 
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or 
that we are to stand by the President right or wrong, is not only 
unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American 
public."
     -- Theodore Roosevelt
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37) From: The Scarlet Wombat
I figured this would be true, that no tamping would produce uneven flow 
through the puck, but preinfusion seems to alleviate this.  I have examined 
the puck carefully from both methods and they are indistinguishable from 
one another.
Dan
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