By: Taylor Nachtrieb
The importance of a good espresso tamp can easily be compared to the quality of grapes that go into making a fine wine. The tamping process involved in pulling a shot of espresso can be a make or break scenario. The reason why tamping is such a crucial part of this process is because it greatly affects the taste of the espresso. A ‘bad’ tamp will cause uneven extraction and channeling, where all the water goes through one part of the espresso rather than being evenly distributed throughout. The end result – bitterness, yuck! The key to a successful tamp is even, consistent downward exerted pressure. Therefore, consistent tamp pressure = consistent espresso extraction.
You may be thinking to yourself, ‘this all sounds well & good, but how the heck do you actually achieve this perfect tamp?!’ The first thing you want to do is step up to your espresso station with confidence like you are about to strike a home run at the World Series, Yankees vs. Red Sox final game. Once you have ground only the best espresso, Machristay Black Pearl, and filled your portafilter you are now ready to tamp. You should rest the portafilter on either the edge of the countertop or your preferred tamping mat to ensure stability. It’s important to hold the tamper loosely in your dominant hand while making a 90-degree angle with your elbow and press straight down with even pressure. Some people will choose to knock on the side of the portafilter after the initial tamp to allow for any excess espresso to settle before tamping again. However, this may cause the seal of the espresso puck to break, which could affect the extraction process so we do not recommend this.
If you want to practice your new tamping skills but aren’t necessarily an espresso connoisseur when it comes to taste & aroma, the answer is go naked! Don’t worry you don’t have to take your clothes off, but you do need a bottomless portafilter. A bottomless portafilter will not lie to you because if the tamp is uneven the espresso has a tendency to shoot out in all directions & can give you quite the shower. Pictured below is what you want your extraction to look like, beautiful brown and caramel coloring concentrated in a single centered stream of espresso. Another indication that you have succeeded with your even tamp is when you knock the espresso out of the portafilter it comes out as a perfectly round shaped ‘hockey puck.’
For the commercial setting espresso user you may already be an expert tamper but you are also probably one step closer to carpal tunnel after tamping up to 100 times each day. We have the answer to this problem and it is called the Puq Press automatic tamping system! All you have to do is place your portafilter into the system and the tamper is automatically activated giving you the perfect, even tamp time and time again! Some of the features of the PuqPress include; adjustable tamping pressure between 10-30 kg, consistent pressure no matter the coffee dose, and the ability to use any style or size portafilter. Visit our website for more information, photos, & videos, and to place your pre-order today.
Happy tamping to all!