Coffee tampers – what are they? FAQ
A small tool used by Baristas. Coffee tampers compress ground coffee in filter baskets. Enabling an equal pass through rate of water throughout all of the coffee. Making coffee in an espresso machine is difficult without a coffee tamper.
First of all this article aims to answer the most frequently asked questions about coffee tampers. As with most things coffee it is subjective. With over 14 years full time experience. The views here are therefore well considered and proven.
What sizes do the tampers come in?
The most common sizes are 57mm and 58mm, Happy Donkey have recently added a new size for users of Krups home espresso machines.
What size tamper do I need for my espresso machine?
Domestic machines like the Gaggia Classic, Espresso, Coffee and Tebe. Use 57-58mm diameter filter baskets, much as does the Rancilio Silvia.
All commercial machines use 57-58mm filter baskets and therefore require a 57 or 58mm coffee tampers. The exception is San Marco and La Spaziale commercial machines which use a 53mm standard size.
In these scenarios a 58mm works very well in double baskets. A 57mm tamper is suggested if single baskets are to be used.
How can I tell which size tamper I need?
Determine this by simply measuring the inner diameter of the machines filter basket.
This must be done with care, do not second guess. Do not take a gamble and order a random size. if it is unclear mail Happy Donkey the machine and model name.
Is a convex tamper better than a flat version?
For most people the answer is yes.
Baristas tamp because the water is required to run through the coffee grounds at an even pace.
Furthermore as the majority of baskets slope inwards at the edge. The compression or tamp is more significant than to that of the middle.
The domed middle of the convex compensates for the slope. Leading to a better level of compression. All across the expanse of coffee in the basket.
With a straight side walled basket the principle is to a degree the same, the wall is a barrier. Therefore when the coffee being compressed comes into contact with that wall it is effectively being pushed in from two sides.
The outer edge ends up with more compression than the area of grounds sat within the more central area.
The feedback from people who buy the 58mm convex is that the improvement after is significant hence: See pours photographed on an Iberital Expresson Pro using a convex.
The photos on the article show the espresso through the bottomless portafilter. Using a filter basket with 180 degree walls.
If the bottom of the basket is flat then try a flat bottomed tamper first. If it is not flat then the convex will work best without doubt.
What metal is the bottom of the coffee tampers made of?
All the tampers are stainless steel based. The quality of metal is very high quality. Most models supplied at Happy Donkey are designed and manufactured in Italy. The home of espresso. In addition the Black Mamba tamper is teflon coated throughout.
What wood is used to make the wooden handled tampers?
Unless stated in the product description it is unknown. The workmanship on these tampers is superb. Customers are always pleased with Happy Donkey tampers.
What make are the tampers?
Unless stated the tampers are unbranded. The quality of manufacture is high. Italy is the preferred source, products from other regions may look similar. But the quality is always inferior.
Do wooden tampers have a metal disk in the top for tapping the side of the filter with?
The disks are visible in the product images. The disk is neither removable or replaceable and will scratch over time if used for this purpose. It is better to use the palm of the hand for tapping. Hand tapping is more accurate and becomes second nature with practice.
58.4mm tamper is best, is that true?
A tamper with a diameter of 58.4mm will only fit third party baskets . It will not fit the vast majority of standard baskets. It will be too big.
Visualise 10mm, now visualise 1mm or look at it on a tape measure. Finally visualise or look directly at 0.4mm That is less than half a millimetres worth of compression. Over an expanse of 58mm it is easy to argue the difference it makes is most questionable.
Most noteworthy is unless the basket purchased specifically states best used with a 58.4mm tamper, don’t bother. Get the 58mm Convex or flat.