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Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Tamping:...  
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,479
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Mon Dec 24, 2012, 9:44am
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

I have had good tampers and I did it "manually" for years but I now have a presspoint tamper, very similar to the linked tamper and I find it very fast and very consistent and dead square when using a naked PF, (a round bottom PF would be slightly more difficult but it is only a matter of holding the PF square in the machine such as you need to learn to hold it square on the counter)

Tamping is the LEAST important part of the process, more important than pressure is consistency. You can NEVER match the pressure on the puck of coffee exerted by 9 bars of shot pressure. Be consistent and level and all will be well.

My PERSONAL view of this subject is much like the discussion on volumetric dosing machines, the aid is a positive improvement in the quality and consistency of the espresso. I often get opposing views on volumetric dosing, along the lines of it is only for the lazy too lazy to turn off the lever. In reality though, we measure everything else about the shot. The grams of ground coffee used, the temp of the water, the pressure of the water, the time of the shot, why should we not also measure the volume of water used in another way that is automatic and does not involve transferring the coffee from shot glasses or measuring cup or the use of scales to get the volume. There is a device that will do this for us, lets use it if you can afford it.

The same is true for the tamping machines, they offer consistency and in this craft, consistency is key. They are easy to use and I think that is part of the rub so to speak. How dare someone be consistent without years of effort to "perfect the craft" !

You still need to know all about your shots, you still need to know about grinding and how to adjust the grinder, you still need to know how to make minute adjustments in the process but if we can take some of the brain dead drudgery out of the process, why not?

I see this discussion a lot like anything else when better processes come along, the "old timers" lament that the "kids" don't know what they are doing but in reality, you need to know even more when you add tech to the mix and tech does improve the process.

In the arena of competition, yes I can see the skill "of the old ways" coming into play but in our day to day life, I have no problem using all the aids available to me and I am drinking GREAT espresso while doing it. YMMV!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,287
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Mon Dec 24, 2012, 11:49am
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

If I were shopping for a machine I would not dismiss one solely based on whether or not is has volumetric dosing. But i would not dismiss a machine because it did not have it either. While a PID can be seen as directly affecting the quality in the cup, the volumetric does so indirectly,if you will. That is, the same quality of espresso can be easily created on a machine without volumetric dosing. A PID'd machine has the potential to do much the same, but with much more difficulty and attention to detail, not to mention luck. Additionally, volumetric machine add complications to electronics that some folks tend to avoid. If I had not received the VBM DD I would probably have looked for a manual spring-lever machine, but I am aware that is not for everyone.

Would not a cup with glazed graduations inside do much the same in terms of espresso quality as a machine with programmable volume control? Sure, but then you would have to turn the machine off manually. Same with something like the "FRCN EME Analog Volumetric Control Unit" shown below     ;-)

frcn: CupGauge.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
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grumpybarista
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grumpybarista
Joined: 19 Feb 2007
Posts: 220
Location: Detroit
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: LP Pub1
Grinder: Mazzer Mini w/ doser, NS...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: French Press, aeropress
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Dec 24, 2012, 12:10pm
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

frcn,

Is that one of those mini coat hanger hooks you find in some hotels?? I knew there were other applications for those things!
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,287
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Mon Dec 24, 2012, 12:39pm
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

No.. COAT HANGER!@?  ;-)

It is actually a piece of brass brazing rod that I bent, melted the ball on teh end, and scribed with a file to mark the levels for those particular cups.

 
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D4F
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Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 1,879
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Preciso
Posted Mon Dec 24, 2012, 12:53pm
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

Perhaps I could make a hook with marks for the reservoir and see how much water leaves and goes through the puck.  Too much crema on the cup end :)

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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randychar813
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randychar813
Joined: 16 Jan 2012
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Location: Louisiana
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Espresso: 95% of time: Izzo Alex...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini E type A;...
Vac Pot: french press
Drip: no
Roaster: SF 6 lber; Hottop
Posted Tue Dec 25, 2012, 8:35am
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

I now tamp and pull. Polish makes no difference.  Fine grind, level puck, even distribution is all that is required.  The flow never wavered or traveled from the bottomless.  One less step is one less thing to go wrong.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,479
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 12:56am
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

frcn Said:

If I were shopping for a machine I would not dismiss one solely based on whether or not is has volumetric dosing. But i would not dismiss a machine because it did not have it either.

Would not a cup with glazed graduations inside do much the same in terms of espresso quality as a machine with programmable volume control? Sure, but then you would have to turn the machine off manually. Same with something like the "FRCN EME Analog Volumetric Control Unit" shown below     ;-)

Posted December 24, 2012 link


Sure, I would not dismiss it only because it did not have volumetric dosing.
However, with the graduated cups, (I have never seen these and to have a custom run of cups made, would be very costly when yo make them in ALL the sizes you use to serve drinks in. I have at least 5 different cups I prefer to serve drinks in and never have I seen them with graduations inside.

unless all you ever made was straight shots into their respective cups, you are forced to pull into a cup that fits under your group head and in a lot of cases, you will then need to pull into shot glasses then transfer thus causing a higher loss of heat in the drink and a similar loss of crema in the transfer. A machine that doses exactly the same each time does not need to transfer.

We measure everything, No one objects to a grinder that weighs the dose of ground coffee, it is seen as a positive feature but it is one you pay extra for. You could get the same quality grind from a grinder that does not have the weigh feature but then you would need to weigh the beans before putting them in the grinder (the point goes both ways for grounds as well as turning off an espresso machine, horror of horrors :P)

Sure you can make your custom tool for each cup but then you have one more thing to keep track of, wash, store etc. Tradeoffs are everywhere! OH, BTW, are you so fixed on manual shut off only so you can make nifty little gauges like you put in your picture? Is there a Patent Pending some place and a volumetric machine will make your product moot ????? :P :P :P

OH, and as I said above, I nearly only use the bottomless PF so there is less disturbing the coffee than from those pesky spouts that damage the espresso and require cleaning etc !!!!!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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JoeFoundry
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JoeFoundry
Joined: 19 Aug 2012
Posts: 13
Location: Atlanta
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Europiccola 8
Grinder: Gaggia MDF
Drip: Hario V60
Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 6:51am
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

Awesome Randy! How hard did/do you tamp now?
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frcn
Senior Member
frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,287
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 9:52am
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

I am using an Espro calibrated click tamper which is set for 30 pounds. Why? Because they sent me one to review and it fits my hand really well. It is not adjustable. BUT.. I find that once I hit the 30 pound click the coffee is done compacting. I can keep pressing past the "click" point but it feels like the coffee doesn't do any more compacting.

And as callblacksmith stated, I also use bottomless portafilter bodies exclusively and with a tamping mat that covers the edge of the counter (Splat Mat), it makes level tamping very, very easy. I keep one spouted portafilter with a blind filter in it in a drawer for backflushing and that is its only use.

 
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JoeFoundry
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JoeFoundry
Joined: 19 Aug 2012
Posts: 13
Location: Atlanta
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Europiccola 8
Grinder: Gaggia MDF
Drip: Hario V60
Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 10:38am
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

Interesting, would you purchase the Espro now that you have used it extensively? Would you have purchased it before being sent one to review?
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