The Ideal Tamper – What Should You Watch Out for?

The Ideal Tamper – What Should You Watch Out for?

Everything you need to know about pressing ground coffee into the brewing sieve

With the help of a tamper, the coffee powder is pressed firmly into the portafilter. It belongs to the basic equipment of a barista and is an important tool when preparing coffee. Tamping sounds simple, but there are a few things to consider. The way in which the tamper is pressed onto the coffee powder is decisive for the quality of the perfect espresso. Here, we tell you how you can best succeed and what is important in the art of tamping.

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The importance of tamping

When brewing in the portafilter, oils, fats, flavors and other aromas are extracted from the grist. The tamper has an extremely important function for this and is responsible for compacting the coffee grounds within the portafilter. The more thorough the pressure with the help of the tamper, the better the quality of the espresso. This is because the more evenly it is tamped, the sooner water meets the same resistance at every point in the brewing sieve. If the coffee grounds are not evenly distributed and “pressed”, the water will find the fastest route through the brewing sieve – with the result that the espresso is over-extracted and becomes bitter and aroma-free.

What types of tamper models are there?

Coffee fans use the hand tamper, which, as the term suggests, is operated manually. There are also tampers on the market that have already been built into the portafilter machine, as well as lever tamper .
The materials that are used to make coffee presses are wood, aluminum, plastic or stainless steel. When buying portafilter espresso machines, you often get simple plastic tamper. However, these models can usually not be used. You should rather use high-quality coffee stamps from specialist shops, as such tamper are much more suitable for optimal pressing.

What you should look for when buying the tamper

When buying, always make sure that the size is right for the portafilter. Coffee stamps are not only available on the market in a wide variety of designs, but also in various sizes.

Even if many espresso lovers attach great importance to the appearance, the accuracy of fit with the sieve is one of the most important technical aspects when preparing a perfect espresso. The tamper must fill the sieve with as little tolerance as possible, because this is the only way to evenly compact the coffee bed. A coffee press with a size of 58mm is suitable for many standard sieves. The most important thing, however, is that the tamper lies comfortably in the hand and feels good to the touch. It is best to try out several different tampers.

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Quality features of the tamper

The quality of the workmanship naturally plays a decisive role in the long usability. The durability as well as the best possible combination of handle and tamper are extremely important.
Finally, it is recommended that you also focus on the execution of the materials used. Tamper have a flat or a lens-shaped underside. You should preferably opt for a lens-shaped underside, as this creates a light tub in the coffee bed. In this way, the water is better distributed, which has a positive effect on the taste of your espresso.

In the end, however, it is a matter of personal taste which type of tamper you choose. It also depends on the model of the sieve used. If you use the one-cup sieve, for example, the slightly rounded, i.e. lenticular underside is more suitable.

In addition, the plate must be excellently processed and completely cleanly deburred. The lower side of the tamper should be polished exactly so that you can twist it on the coffee powder without any resistance and a smooth and clean surface is formed. Therefore, the screw connection between the handle and the coffee press must also be stable. It should also lie comfortably in your hand, for example by means of a smooth wooden handle, and feel comfortable.
When using a wooden handle, it must be possible to unscrew it, as this is important for cleaning with water. In this context, a sealed handle is perfect because it doesn’t mind the effects of moisture during use.

From wood to stainless steel

A tamper is made of many different materials. The spectrum ranges from wood to plastic and aluminum to stainless steel. Caution is sometimes advised with a very inexpensive version made of plastic. Manufacturers of espresso machines occasionally include them as an accessory. Its use may lead to exactly the opposite of what it is intended to achieve: the even distribution of the flour in the sieve. A good tamper from a specialist store has either a flat or a convex pressure surface– so a lenticular one. Some barista prefer this lenticular underside because they are convinced that it optimally distributes the water in the brewing strainer: This is how the coffee crema or espresso unfolds particularly well. The click tamper from Concept-Art is one of the special forms. In this version, there is a mechanism in the handle with the option of setting the defined contact pressure. In this way, the same pressure is always guaranteed.

Which handling with the tamper is the best?

To get straight to the point: a generally applicable answer to this question is hardly possible. Because in addition to your personal taste, it depends on the type of coffee you use, the degree of grinding and the texture of the brewing sieve. Last but not least, the proverb also applies to tamping: ” Practice makes perfect “!

The amount of pressure you should exert when tamping is also determined by the grind of the coffee and is always a reason for extensive discussions. Basically, one cannot speak of the one right pressure. In this context, experts recommend a contact pressure of 15 kg.

How do you tamp properly?

In general, the use of the tamper is divided into the processes of tapping and turning. When you have pressed the coffee bed in the brewing sieve, tap the end of the tamper against the portafilter once or twice to remove any coffee grounds that may have gotten onto the portafilter. Finally, turn the tamper on the surface of the ground coffee pressed into the sieve to smooth it out precisely, with the aim of getting a better structure of the crema. Because it makes a decisive contribution to the aroma of your tamped espresso, as it binds a large component of the espresso aroma.

Tip: After tamping, the preparation takes place in the portafilter machine – the extraction time should be approx. 25 seconds. In total, around 30 ml of espresso with a fine crema is created – if it has been tamped properly. In our shop you will find professional portafilter machines from La Marzocco or Sage.


Tamping is an important practice for any passionate barista. The perfect taste of the espresso depends on this process !

  • “Tamping” means the even compression of the ground coffee in the coffee strainer.
  • Also known as “coffee stamps” and “coffee presses”, there are hand tamper, tamper already built into portafilter and lever tamper.
  • The materials used for a tamper are made of stainless steel, aluminum, plastic or wood.
  • Tamper have a lenticular or flat bottom.
  • Only use tamper from specialist dealers for perfect pressing.
  • The coffee press enables fats, oils, flavors and other aromas to be extracted from the coffee bed.
  • In any case, you must purchase it as precisely as possible to match your coffee strainer, otherwise the espresso cannot be extracted optimally.
  • The tamper uses are divided into “tapping” and “rotating”.