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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Best Tamper for...  
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 658
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Fri Mar 1, 2013, 7:00pm
Subject: Best Tamper for the VST?
 

I have the 18g and 22g ridgeless versions and one of those cheapo aluminum flat bottomed tampers from Rattleware. I have a feeling there's a reason most of you have tampers that cost more than $19.99 so can anyone explain what would be a better upgrade with more consistent results and which models you recommend. My budget is still limited, but I am starting to get the feeling I might need something nicer than what I've got. Cheers!
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JonR10
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JonR10
Joined: 26 Apr 2004
Posts: 10,376
Location: Houston, Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: E61 Legend, Livietta,...
Grinder: Robur, B-Vario-W
Vac Pot: Hario Tabletop, Yama...
Drip: Technivorm
Roaster: 1-lb US Roaster, Behmor 1600
Posted Fri Mar 1, 2013, 7:39pm
Subject: Re: Best Tamper for the VST?
 

Markarian Said:

I have a feeling there's a reason most of you have tampers that cost more than $19.99 so can anyone explain what would be a better upgrade with more consistent results and which models you recommend.

Posted March 1, 2013 link

Tamper is a long ways down the list of things that make a difference.  
If you're having issues with your VST baskets then it's probably the grind, not the tamper.  

I have a large collection of tampers, almost all of which were more than twice as much as $19.99.  

Q: Why did I spend so much?
A: Because I can


It has been said that a very close fitting tamper can make a slight measurable difference in extraction efficiency.  I have a few precision tampers made specifically for VST baskets and they are all very beautifull and of excellent quality...but I cannot taste (or see) any difference in my shots when using these when compared with more "standard" tampers.  

I use the expensive tampers most often....because I can, and because I like the feel of them.  
.

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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AntWilliams90
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AntWilliams90
Joined: 4 Feb 2013
Posts: 61
Location: Warwickshire, UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Mahlkonig Vario Home
Roaster: Dieckmann Rostmeister
Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 8:04am
Subject: Re: Best Tamper for the VST?
 

I'm gonna stick my neck on the line here, and say that a good tamper can make a huge difference!

The key here, is how you tamp.

I'm currently using a 'standard' 58mm tamper, and there is a fairly obvious gap between its edge and the wall of my VST basket. This means that a straight tamp leaves a wall of untamped coffee running up the side of the filter basket, and means that the edges of the puck are not as tightly packed as the centre. Admittedly, it is a very thin border of less-tamped coffee - but this is hot water under pressure we are talking about! It only takes a small difference for the water to choose to take an easier route out.

To overcome this, with my current tamper, I have to be very particular about how I level my coffee, and I perform a light North-East-South-West tamp before the final tamp and polish.

I have just ordered a precision tamper (58.35mm) designed specifically to fit a VST basket. It cost 26 in total...Now, because I have found the best way to use the tamper I already have, I am not expecting this new tamper to make any noticeable difference to the shots I pull. However, I do expect it to save me a lot of time since I won't have to be so careful in levelling, and won't have to do the N-E-S-W tamp.

I decided to purchase the new tamper after noticing how the baristas in my favourite local coffee shop could just give a firm straight down tamp, and I realised that their tampers fit 100% snugly into their baskets...

 
As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.
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germantownrob
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germantownrob
Joined: 2 Dec 2007
Posts: 2,156
Location: Philadelphia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Duetto 3, A Dead Oscar
Grinder: Vario-W, Preciso w/Esatto,...
Drip: Brazen
Roaster: Diedrich IR-1, HT B
Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 8:44am
Subject: Re: Best Tamper for the VST?
 

My first tamper was a wood handle $20 tamper and I used it for about three years. It is dinged, scratched, and the handle is showing a lot of wear, it measures, it measures 57.53mm. I replaced it with a Cafelat made for the VST baskets, much nicer feel with this tamper and it fits all of my baskets much better, it measures 58.30mm. It has made zero difference in performance but as mentioned above it does make tamping in VST and other baskets I have at this size up to 59mm, it does fit my hand better but not perfect. How the tamper fits your hand and feels there is much more important then a tight fit diameter to the basket IMO. If working a full day using a tamper at a busy cafe I would want one that felt like it grew out of my hand.

As Jon says "because I can", I will eventually get a Pullman tamper in hopes of getting a near perfect fit in my hand as well as sizing it to my favorite baskets.
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 658
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 12:53pm
Subject: Re: Best Tamper for the VST?
 

Thanks for all the insight, guys. I can definitely say my current tamper seems a bit small in the VST. I actually nutate when I tamp to try and seal the coffee against the edges of the baskets for the VST. I often get a lot of side-channeling with the VST baskets and always struggle to overcome it. I have noticed the edges of the nicer tampers are "sharper" as in at a right angle. The cheap RW tamper I have not only covers less of the basket (I constantly have coffee clinging to the walls), but the edges are very soft. Here's a pic:

Markarian: !BegFB!wBGk~$(KGrHqEOKiMEryPJqhn4BK9ig9YToQ~~_35.JPG
(Click for larger image)
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dyno
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Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 70
Location: Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Salvatore The Club
Grinder: HG One/K6 Pro/Super Mini E
Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 6:23pm
Subject: Re: Best Tamper for the VST?
 

With all this tamper-apathy, we can pretty much forget about anyone submitting tamper-porn photos.
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 1,015
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 7:51pm
Subject: Re: Best Tamper for the VST?
 

Markarian Said:

I have a feeling there's a reason most of you have tampers that cost more than $19.99

Posted March 1, 2013 link

It's because I wanted a Reg Barber.  A tamper's a tamper beyond a certain point IMO.  I wouldn't say that the Reg Barber makes any difference versus any other decent tamper.
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 658
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 8:21pm
Subject: Re: Best Tamper for the VST?
 

But what I'm trying to ask: Is my current tamper adequate? I know it's a subjective question, but would YOU guys be able to produce the coffee you do with this $19 RW tamper? You guys obviously wanted to spend $50+ on a tamper; is it just for looks? Am I beneath that point beyond which a tamper is just a tamper?
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TonyVan
Senior Member


Joined: 24 May 2010
Posts: 276
Location: Pacific Northwest
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: GS/3, La Pavoni
Grinder: Macap M7K, Rocky
Drip: Kone
Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 11:55pm
Subject: Re: Best Tamper for the VST?
 

The custom-sized Pullman from VST is a wonderful tamper, as is a 58.4mm Reg Barber, but sadly neither one of these has yet vaulted me into the WBC finals.  

As Jon and others here have suggested, your tamper is very unlikely to be holding you back.  If you're not 100% satisfied with your results at the moment, look elsewhere first for improvements.  Other than being pretty to look at and comfortable to handle, the World's Finest Tamper will only make theoretically "perfect" results a little less work to achieve, and in the very best of cases, help you improve your consistency from, say, 98-99-96-97-96-98 to maybe 98-99-97-98-99.  (I've worked at making espresso for almost 40 years and when I get consistently into the 90s I'll let you know...)

But if the cost of a custom-sized artisan tamper fits happily in your budget, just tell yourself how nice it will be to use every single morning, and simply figure that this pleasure is worth fifty cents a day for the next year.  No problem - that's what luxury items are for.  Just don't expect that this investment will deliver that elusive missing link for your current setup and technique.  A great tamper may walk in that door, but it ain't bringing along an unending series of perpetual god-shots.
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 658
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sun Mar 3, 2013, 1:56am
Subject: Re: Best Tamper for the VST?
 

Thanks, Tony. If only a nice tamper could help me achieve perfect microfoam too! I'll keep on refining my technique and keeping an eye on my bean age, which I'm starting to think is the neglected link in my chain.
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