Espresso Tampers & More  
Why Tamp?

Myths and Truths

How to Tamp

Tamping Mistakes

Remember This

Espresso Tampers

This page is dedicated to all kinds of espresso tampers from around the world


Why do we tamp?

We tamp espresso to help achieve a uniform extraction during the brewing process. The proper combination of grind and tamping pressure will ensure the finest and most consistent result from your espresso blend.

Tamping myths and the real truth

Myth - There is only one proper way to tamp
It doesn't matter if you hand tamp, use a doser mounted tamper, spring mounted tamper, or a mechanical tamper. Tamping is not actually a one size fits all proposition. It is just one parameter in the making of a good espresso. The espresso blend, degree of roast, particle size from grinding, brewing temperature, infusion time and pump pressure all combine to make the final product.

Myth - There is only one correct pressure to apply
As stated above, the amount of pressure to apply is mostly dependent on your espresso blend. If your blend is dark roasted, a coarser grind with a harder tamp might taste better. If your espresso is a medium roast, you can use a finer grind and a lighter tamp to achieve strong flavors without bitterness and over extraction. Most sources recommend a tamping pressure of 30 to 40 psi. Disregard this nonsense completely and simply practice to find out what works for you and how to make your espresso blend taste best.

Myth - There is only one best style of espresso tamper
Espresso tampers come in a few different shapes: rounded, flat, sharp edges, beveled edges, rounded edges, wood, metal etc. The shape of the tamper is not that important compared to the way it fits in a given filter basket. The diameter of the tamper should closely match the width of the basket to ensure an even tamp using the least amount of motions.

Myth - The Twist
Some people insist that a finishing twist of the tamper to polish the espresso is necessary for a good pour. Different sources define technique as a 45, 90, 360, or 720 degree twist....whatever!

How to tamp properly with a hand held tamper
  1. Fill the filter basket with the correct amount of espresso, 7 grams for a single, 14 grams for a double. Don't skimp on coffee either, espresso pours better when the proper amount is used.

  2. Shake the handle slightly to even out and level the espresso.

  3. Hold the group handle on the counter so that it is level.

  4. Tamp the espresso using an even, level pressure.

  5. Using the back of the tamper handle, tap the flange of the group handle once or twice to knock the grounds off of the sides of the filter basket.

  6. Tamp again lightly to even out the surface of the grounds, that's it, make the espresso already and enjoy it or serve it while it is hot and fresh with lots of crema.

Tamping mistakes
Over tamping
Tamping too hard will result in a slow pour and over extraction. This is basically cooking the coffee too much, extracting more solids and flavor components than we want. The espresso will taste bitter and burnt.

Over tapping
By tapping the side of the group handle more than once or twice, it is possible to open up unwanted channels within the coffee bed. This will allow water to find the path of least resistance and flow through the coffee without achieving a uniform and full extraction. The result is a weaker and simple espresso.

There is no scientific absolute right or wrong way to use an espresso tamper. Proper tamping is about finding your own personal preference in combination with your particular espresso blend. Some blends respond to a coarser grind and harder tamp, some shine using the opposite technique. The key is to learn how your blend tastes prepared using your espresso machine. Relax, tamp it and brew it. Don't stress about it, it's only tamping.


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