Every time I use this tamper, I'm happy I bought it. What more could one ask?
Positive Product Points
Craftsmanship, Aesthetics, Ergonomics and Function
Negative Product Points
Reg Barber describes the tamper handles as follows: "The African Rosewood handles (Bubinga) are turned and polished to a beautiful shiny finish. They have a white Delron inlay crown." His web site is at <http://www.coffeetamper.com>
I own two of these, both long handle, stainless steel, flat-bottomed versions. The flat was the only option at the time I purchased. Reg Barber currently has the following options available:
Tall handle: 89mm 3.5 inches Short Handle: 76mm 3 inches
Alum or stainless base.
Flat or rounded base.
Laser engraving (logos etc)
48mm to 58mm sizes.
The shape of the long & short handles are different, the short is not just a shorter version of the long so be sure to check the website. I like the long but others swear by the short, to each his own.
I have wanted to try the rounded bottom base, like Schomer's Ergo packer. I do not know how Schomers Ergo packer piston (base) differs from Reg's rounded version. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who's seen/used both. I've also heard on alt.coffee, but have not confirmed, that Schomer's pistons will fit the Reg handle. Schomer's pistons are available w/o the handle at a reasonable price, so if they do infact fit, it would be an interesting pairing to experiment with.
The only negative comments I heard about these tampers are with the laser engravings occasionally being off center. Reg farms out the engraving and was recently made aware of some issues w/ them. I assume he's taken steps to correct the problems. There were also complaints as to how durable the finish on the handle is. It's French polish and as such will need occasional maintenance like any other hand crafted & polished wood object. I do not see this as a problem and although both my Reg Barber tampers are not as Shinny as when new, I've not yet felt the need to redo the French polish.
This tamper is all about quality craftsmanship, with wonderful form and straightforward function. It's not only beautiful; it feels great in the hand. Does it do any better job than a similar weight tamper? Probably not, but it's not about being better it's about being a unique, well crafted object that really reminds one of the days when people still took pride in their work. Is it overpriced, as many claim? I don't think so. It strikes me as just about the right price for an object as wonderful as this.
[Note: Both the Ergo Packer and Reg Tamper have pistons (bases) which unscrew from the handle. So it's possible to place a different size/shape piston on the handle w/o buying a whole new tamper. I still don't have proof that the Schomer and Reg pistons are interchangable and/or if there was ever any change in the screw size over the production run for either line of tampers]