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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Better shots...  
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NobbyR
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Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013, 8:02am
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

It's not important how hard you tamp as long as you do it consistently and level.

 
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volfro
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Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013, 9:44am
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

qualin Said:

Go out and buy a precision scale.

Posted March 17, 2013 link

Y'know, I've been meaning to do that. However, I use the timer function on the Preciso. Is that not consistent enough? (I mean, even if it over- or under-doses, as long as it does so on a consistent basis, it shouldn't matter, right?)

emradguy Said:

And just to be certain...the beans you are using are fresh? Roasted within two weeks or so?

Posted March 17, 2013 link

Yes, usually within a few days. I always buy fresh from the local guys.


calblacksmith Said:

You grind was off and you did not get it right or even close until you changed your thinking.

The reason for the tamp is to provide a consistent bed of coffee to be presented to the flow of water. It is NOT to adjust your shot time, YOUR GRINDER DOES THAT, a $200 tamper can not make up for a poor grinder or a poor grinder adjustment.

Posted March 18, 2013 link

I guess I've been thinking of tamping incorrectly the entire time: I saw extraction time as a function of both tamp AND grind. Everything I've read says do a 30 lb tamp, but I've seen Seattle Coffee Gear, for instance, adjust their tamp pressure to impact extraction time.

It makes intuitive sense, though: wouldn't grounds, more tightly-packed, restrict the flow of water to a greater degree? At least, that's the logic in my mind.

And if tamp pressure doesn't actually matter all that much, compared to grind, who decided it should be 30lbs? I mean I've literally been putting the tamper into the PF and pressing down just slightly, and giving it a couple of twists, and pulling 25-30 second shots.
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emradguy
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Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013, 10:03am
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

volfro Said:

Y'know, I've been meaning to do that. However, I use the timer function on the Preciso. Is that not consistent enough? (I mean, even if it over- or under-doses, as long as it does so on a consistent basis, it shouldn't matter, right?)

Posted March 18, 2013 link

not necessarily. grind will vary based on bean age, humidity, etc.  best to weigh the doses.  an appropriate scale should run you $20-40 depending on what you choose, (though I've read here they can be had cheaper).  one of many places to find one is www.oldwillknottscales.com


volfro Said:

Yes, usually within a few days. I always buy fresh from the local guys.

Posted March 18, 2013 link

excellent!


volfro Said:

I guess I've been thinking of tamping incorrectly the entire time: I saw extraction time as a function of both tamp AND grind. Everything I've read says do a 30 lb tamp, but I've seen Seattle Coffee Gear, for instance, adjust their tamp pressure to impact extraction time.

It makes intuitive sense, though: wouldn't grounds, more tightly-packed, restrict the flow of water to a greater degree? At least, that's the logic in my mind.

And if tamp pressure doesn't actually matter all that much, compared to grind, who decided it should be 30lbs? I mean I've literally been putting the tamper into the PF and pressing down just slightly, and giving it a couple of twists, and pulling 25-30 second shots.

Posted March 18, 2013 link

I don't know who came up with 30#s  The most important thing is to do it the same every time. I probably tamp at about 15-20#s (not that that matters) psi at the time of extraction is in the ballpark of 135, so don't worry too much about your exact pressure. Just get it somewhere in the 20-50 range and all should be good once you learn the feel and get your grind where you want it.  Twisting and banging are typically frowned upon these days, mainly because they may fracture the dry puck and promote channeling.  There's a great place to read more on tamping, distribution, etc... www.espressomyespresso.com ... article 12 under how to (Easy guide to better espresso at home).

 
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volfro
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Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013, 6:41pm
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

That's a really awesome how-to link--thanks. Hadn't seen that one before.
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TonyVan
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Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013, 11:33pm
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

Whatever tamping pressure you choose, it's absolutely overwhelmed by the pressures on the puck from the shot-making process itself.

If you tamp a 58mm basket with 30 pounds of pressure, you will be delivering just a little less than 7 1/2 pounds per square inch of pressure to the surface of the puck.  Then ... a moment later your espresso machine will hit that same puck surface with (typically about) 9 bar - which translates to 130 PSI, or a total of more than 530 pounds of pressure on that same surface.  

So other than putting the coffee puck in good order to start the shot, our little tamp of a paltry 30 lbs - or 40 lbs - or 10 lbs - or 70 lbs - just isn't going to make a hill of coffee beans' worth of difference once the real pressure starts.

This also goes some distance to explaining why the bottoms of baskets become warped and occasionally split open in heavy cafe use.
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germantownrob
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Posted Tue Mar 19, 2013, 4:38am
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

So tamping is the least important part, that is if you already know how to tamp with consistent pressure and can tamp level with out thought otherwise it is very important. Water will take the path of least resistance, tamp out of level and one side will over extract while the other side will over extract. Tamp with different pressure and shot flow will be different ever time. When I do a bean change and getting the grinder dialed in for the new beans the first couple of grinds may be finer or courser then desired, if I know it is to fine I will tamp lightly, 10lbs and if I know it is to course I will tamp heavy, 30lbs, otherwise I tamp at 20lbs consistently.

I see posts over the years of stale beans being the problem for poor pulls, I just don't get that, flat boring taste yes but inconsistency? Ok so I don't roast into second crack so even my stale beans only have a spot of oil on them, very oily beans may be inconsistent when stale ( posiable even fresh idk). even thinking about oily dark beans makes me cringe, especially stale ones, that oil is oxidized and rancid and probably leaving nastiness behind in the grinder and machine.
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