Sunday, December 3, 2023

How to Use a Tamper

by Mads

Get Your Coffee Game Leveled Up with Tamper Techniques

If you’re a coffee aficionado, then you are probably familiar with the importance of using the right tools to achieve that perfect cup. One such tool is the tamper. A tamper is used to compact the coffee grounds in an espresso machine portafilter, ensuring even extraction and a consistent taste. In this article, we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of how to use a tamper effectively and elevate your coffee game to the next level.

How does a tamper work?

Before we dive into using a tamper, let’s understand how it works. A tamper is a small, hand-held tool used to compress coffee grounds evenly in a portafilter basket. The compression of the grounds is crucial to ensuring that water flows through them evenly, resulting in a smooth, well-balanced cup. A well-tamped puck of coffee ensures an even brewing process and maximizes the extraction of flavor.

How to use a tamper?

1. Choose the right size tamper: First things first, make sure that you have the right size tamper for your portafilter basket. A tamper that is too small or too large won’t distribute the coffee evenly. Most espresso machines come with a tamper that fits the portafilter basket perfectly, but you can also purchase a separate, more ergonomic tamper that’s comfortable to grip.

2. Grind & Dose: Grind your coffee beans to the desired fineness and transfer the grounds to your portafilter basket. Next, dose the coffee by leveling the coffee grounds with the flat of your finger or a distribution tool.

3. Position the tamper: With the portafilter basket on a flat surface, position the tamper on top of the coffee grounds, centering it as much as possible.

4. Apply pressure: Using a firm but controlled grip, apply pressure to the tamper to compress the coffee grounds. Keep your arm directly above the tamper and use your body weight to push down. Aim for a compressing force of 30 lbs.

5. Polish the puck: Remove the tamper and gently polish the puck in the basket by rotating the tamper around the edges, being careful not to disturb the grounds inside. This final step will ensure that the grounds are evenly distributed and that extraction will happen consistently.

6. Brew: Put the portafilter into the group head and run the water through the coffee under the desired pressure and time.

Why use a tamper?

Using a tamper ensures that the coffee grounds are distributed and compressed evenly, allowing the water to pass through each particle at the same rate. Uneven distribution and tamping can lead to a poorly extracted shot of espresso, resulting in a bitter or sour taste. A tamper also creates a polished and smooth surface which reduces the chance of water seeping through uneven parts and producing less consistent shots. Overall, the tamper is a crucial tool that ensures the quality and consistency of your coffee every single time.


Mastering the art of using a tamper will take some practice, but it’s well worth the effort and adds an extra level of satisfaction to your coffee routine. Remember to choose the right size tamper, apply firm but gentle pressure, and polish the puck to achieve a consistent, well-balanced shot of espresso every time. Embrace the ritual of tamping to elevate your coffee game and impress your taste buds and those around you. Happy tamping!

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