Coming out of nowhere, the Presso Tamper out of Sweden has virtually tied the long standing and time tested Reg Barber Tamper, with scores of 1.7 for the Reg, and 1.75 for the Presso. What's especially notable about this is that the designers of the Presso claim to have not physically tested and examined other tampers when designing this model, and when you see a Presso model, you can see a lot of subtle originality in the design. The only minor complaint about this tamper is that it needs more weight. I think if it had that extra weight, it would have vaulted into first place overall.
The Reg Barber is our official king of the hill by a hair, but what's suprising to me is how low the tamper that some of our polled participants referred to as the "Reg Barber knockoff" did - the Rosewood Tamper finished a middle of the road 4.2 out of 8. To me, it deserves a higher place than that because of the price (under $30), and I do like the gloss finish on the handle more than the unfinished surface of the Reg Barber tamper.
Notable too is the Pro Tamper, which was last year's top pick in the first Tamper shootout - this time around it's a fourth place finisher, with a 3.7 (out of 8) ranking. It goes to show you the difference a year makes, and also the broader range of tampers available today.
The Deluxe Lava Tamper surprised me a bit - almost every comment by the Baristi were positive about this tamper, but after the ranking is all said and done, it finishes in 3rd place with a 3.2 average rating.
The La Marzocco - again another tamper that many La Marzocco machine-using Baristi could identify with, but when it was time to rate, it finished low, with a 5.4 ranking. And then there's the plastic tamper which not surprisingly rated low at 6.7.
The poor Gourmet Espresso Tamper, which finished just about as low as it could possibly finish - every Baristi we polled ranked it last, except for one. Some questions have been raised in online forums and venues about the promotional material listed on the Gourmet Espresso Tamper's website, which claims several awards and notes of recognition for this tamper. Unfortunately, neither the CoffeeGeek website nor our assembled team of top flight Baristi and testers had anything good to say about it, except perhaps the tamper is a very early beginning - who knows if concave tamping will be good or not. Perhaps once this tamper is reshaped into something that professional Baristi can use (that is, a proper handle, getting rid of the faux diamond, and making it an accurate 58mm size), maybe the concave design will show us if it is capable of a more consistent tamp and shot production.
As for my own choice? All I can say is this: I have access to about 14 tampers right now (in different sizes) including most of the ones in this test, but there is one I use more consistently than any of the others: the Presso Tamper, which sits proudly next to a La Marzocco Linea espresso machine set up in a special corner of our office/basement. The Swedes have hit on a winning formula. If they add a couple of extra ounces of weight, it would be pretty much perfect.