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Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Tamping:...  
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JoeFoundry
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Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 5:34pm
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

This is interesting because it drives at something I am hearing consistently from barista and specialty coffee house owners alike.

There is a plethora of equipment on the market that make reproducing quality tamping (level tamps at specified force), like the funnel you show in the video, arbor press tamping equipment (example: http://www.coffechino.co.uk/images/P/image005-01.JPG) or even super automatics, but the owners and baristas don't like this equipment because it takes the craft out of coffee preparation. Art vs Science seems to be at the heart of the matter and art seems to be winning in specialty coffee (art = experience)

Do you see this phenomena as well? What do people generally say when you recommend the cylindrical funnel process?
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grumpybarista
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Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 5:50pm
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

Watching this video, I have to say it seems very cumbersome and time-consuming. I would be stunned to see this in use at a fast-paced coffee bar. I personally believe that a good barista will be highly consistent, and much faster than this contraption would allow.
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JoeFoundry
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Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 6:26pm
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

Would you consider using a tamper that recorded your levelness and forcefulness to spot check that consistency? Would you consider using a tamper that provided you real time feedback about your levelness and forcefulness? Which do you find more important: real time feedback or recordings that you can review at a later time?

Would you have considered one when you first started to help learn/perfect your craft?

If not, why? If so, what would consider a reasonable price?

Thanks again Grumpy, your feedback on the topic has been great.
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grumpybarista
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Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 6:49pm
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

My view is that I'd either prefer a more manual approach, tending toward the development of individual craftsmanship, as well as allowing for a level of adaptation for the constantly changing environment that is driven by the ever-changing consumer. I've worked in manufacturing for years, and I can tell you that a good machine can be designed for a very specific job, but NOTHING beats a human being for immediate comprehension of requirements, the versatility needed to adapt, and the speed to implement this adaptation.
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randychar813
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Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 7:08pm
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

you asked, "When you say you use your fingertips to ensure levelness, how so? Do you let your fingertips slide down to the bottom face of the tamper and you "feel" for where your pointer and thumb come into contact ever so slightly with the grinds?"

No, I have big hands and long fingers which work well as a guide, or jig, if you will.  I use all fingers to ensure the depth of my fingers is the same on 5 points of the tamper while applying the tamp pressure, then twist once, lift, then lightly twist again to have a slick surface on the puck.  I insert the portafilter basket; preinfuse 3 secs then pull the 28 second shot. Repetition and replication are the key.

This is how I have taught myself.  I like the results; we all have to use what we have.  

Having great equipment does not hurt either.

randychar813: DSCN0tamp.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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frcn
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Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 10:54pm
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

I have found that just paying attention to what you are doing will ensure a level tamp. If the tamp doesn't go level (and you didn't do something like sneeze or have the spouts slip) then an un-level tamp is an indication that the distribution of the dose was not even. Instead of expensive contraptions I would advise spending the money on a grinder the produces a grind that is easy to distribute and keep as level as possible before tamping.

There are many other factors. The triple baskets are more difficult to distribute the dose in as there is often more of a vertical margin of error. A tamper that fits the hand is also important- tamping mats, good lighting, and patience (and practice). Tamping speed is also a good thing to practice; or it may be more accurate to say a tamping lack of speed. Compressing slowly give more control and more time to correct as the tamper descends into the basket.

Twisting the tamper to polish the puck? in terms of espresso quality it has the same value as an aluminum hat possesses to keep out the voices. Simplify. Do less when preparing. The more steps and activity you have, the greater chance of error (more variables), and the lesser chance of diagnoses when there is a problem.

 
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thedotben
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Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 11:02pm
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

JoeFoundry Said:

Would you consider using a tamper that recorded your levelness and forcefulness to spot check that consistency? Would you consider using a tamper that provided you real time feedback about your levelness and forcefulness? Which do you find more important: real time feedback or recordings that you can review at a later time?

Would you have considered one when you first started to help learn/perfect your craft?

If not, why? If so, what would consider a reasonable price?

Thanks again Grumpy, your feedback on the topic has been great.

Posted December 23, 2012 link

I think real-time feedback would be interesting for training purposes, but ultimately, a barista will need to learn to do without. I worked in a shop that ranked in the 98th percentile for transactions in the country, and it all comes down to barista skill.

I train people to be consistent with their tamp so that it no longer becomes a variable.

But as you get more skilled, you are able to adjust how you tamp on the fly, either to compensate for how the espresso is pulling, or to intentionally alter the product.

I would not personally need or desire recorded data throughout an actual shift because my tamping would vary depending on what I am trying to accomplish. I wouldn't have time to look at live feedback, and recorded data would be incomprehensible.

However, I am saying all this from a professional side. I can see how someone who is a home barista may find more use out of this. Or a roaster who is profiling an espresso blend could track their data to their tasting notes.

I can't speak to the price of the product without a better idea of how it is actually functioning. As a training tool, I would think $150-200 for something with live electronic feedback would be acceptable, but there would also be a rather small market for people who would actually use that (ie, barista schools like Midwest Barista School or the American Barista School).
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NobbyR
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Posted Mon Dec 24, 2012, 2:45am
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

JoeFoundry Said:

..., but the owners and baristas don't like this equipment because it takes the craft out of coffee preparation. Art vs Science seems to be at the heart of the matter and art seems to be winning in specialty coffee (art = experience).

Do you see this phenomena as well? What do people generally say when you recommend the cylindrical funnel process?

Posted December 23, 2012 link

grumpybarista Said:

Watching this video, I have to say it seems very cumbersome and time-consuming. I would be stunned to see this in use at a fast-paced coffee bar. I personally believe that a good barista will be highly consistent, and much faster than this contraption would allow.

Posted December 23, 2012 link

I'm certain a skilled professional barista usually won't need such equipment knowing his craft well enough to be able to tamp levelly without it, simply because of his experience (art). But for a home barista, especially a newbie it can be very helpful.

 
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JoeFoundry
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JoeFoundry
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Posted Mon Dec 24, 2012, 7:11am
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

thedotben Said:

I think real-time feedback would be interesting for training purposes, but ultimately, a barista will need to learn to do without. I worked in a shop that ranked in the 98th percentile for transactions in the country, and it all comes down to barista skill.

Posted December 23, 2012 link

Totally agree with this point, training, espresso program management, and home enthusiasts are the targets for a tamper like this. Respect the craft by allowing it to remain manual, but produce equipment that provides greater visibility into the process of making great espresso so baristas and enthusiasts alike can perfect their craft.

thedotben Said:

I can't speak to the price of the product without a better idea of how it is actually functioning. As a training tool, I would think $150-200 for something with live electronic feedback would be acceptable, but there would also be a rather small market for people who would actually use that (ie, barista schools like Midwest Barista School or the American Barista School).

Posted December 23, 2012 link

Price you mentioned is in line with what others have mentioned, thanks for that feedback. Albeit a limited training market, is there anyone you know that I could speak with at either MBS or ABS? I would be very interested in getting our prototypes into their hands as they have intimate knowledge of training baristas.

Have a great Christmas Eve good sir and thanks for the feedback.
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randychar813
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randychar813
Joined: 16 Jan 2012
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Posted Mon Dec 24, 2012, 7:43am
Subject: Re: Tamping: Levelness vs Forcefulness
 

I will give the "no polish" technique a try and get back to you. Simplicity is better if it makes no difference.

randychar813: cup o crema.jpg
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