Tips for a Perfect Tamp
How hard should you tamp?
Tamping for espresso is riddled with an incredible amount of folk-knowledge. It’s one of those things that can make or break a coffee which is why the dreaded question of “how hard should you tamp” can create some fierce debate in coffee circles. Today we are going to shed some light on the tamping process and how easy it is to get it right!
Why is the tamp so important?
Tamping is pretty simple. You’re compressing the coffee grinds to promote an even extraction in an ergonomic and consistent way. If there is air between the grind the water will use this shortcut and speed through – leaving that watery taste. If there is no air (or minimal), the grinds will slow the water down.
However, coffee grinds are not one and the same as they are all dependent on the grind size. Grind size is the deciding factor for flow rate, not the amount of air between the grinds.
Promote an Even Extraction
Tamping should create a bed of coffee with even density. This means there is no shortcuts or easy ways through for the water to speed out. The aim is for the water to travel through the mass of grinds as evenly as possible. If there’s an area of lower density, the water will travel through it more quickly. The grinds in that area will be over extracted and the rest will be under extracted.
To achieve even density we need a perfectly flat, horizontal bed of coffee. Flat tampers are crucial here. And your tamping technique should always be perfectly horizontal.
Ergonomic and consistency
The amount of pressure applied should be as small as possible, without sacrificing any of the above. Aiming for the lightest pressure that works is key.
To control the flow rate of your espresso by adjusting grind size, not tamping pressure. If the pressure is variable then you need to do it the same every single time, this is frankly a ridiculous ask and can be entirely avoided.
Tamping squeezes the air from between the grinds, with only so much air between them the grinds eventually reach a point where they cannot compress any further. At a certain point you will hit the maximum density and no matter how hard you try they won’t move any further.
This is great news for consistency as it means there is no maximum tamping pressure and it doesn’t require much pressure at all.
To find out how little or how much pressure is required try slowly increasing the pressure with the tamper. At the maximum density the tamper will stop moving so when it stops you stop – that easy!
Don’t tamp too lightly
As we mentioned before humans are not consistent so you do not want to be relying on the tamping pressure. If you tamp lightly it is almost impossible to do it consistently which means your coffee will never be consistent. The only way you can wipe this out is to rely on maximum density.
If your tamp ends up lighter than your used to – you can thank you us for your happy shoulder and arm 😊
If your tamp ends up heavier than your used to – well you will be thanking us for a delicious cup every time!
And to get the best cup make sure you grab a bag of our beans here.