Facts About Tamping Every Barista Should Know
Tamping is a skill that any barista trying to make it into the league of professionals must equip themselves with. It becomes even important for commercial coffee brewing. Apart from the quality of the beans, the most important thing according to baristas is pressure. A combination of tamping pressure and the pressurised water is what makes a great cup of espresso.
Important Tamping Facts You Should Know
What is tamping? What's a tamper and the common types? That’s what we are going to look into in this article:
What is tamping?
Tamping is simply the method that baristas use on loosely packed coffee grounds in the portafilter to turn them into a tightly compressed and evenly dispersed puck. It is meant to create the necessary resistance to the pressurised water to extract the espresso flavour from the grounds. Water is lazy and if allowed will choose the weak path through the grounds and thus failing to extract the required flavour. Actually, tamping is the second in the process of making coffee after bean grinding. That’s why it’s important to have it done correctly. Without proper tamping of the ground, the rest of the steps to making espresso will not make any difference.
Apart from compressing the grounds to create resistance, tamping is also necessary for creating a little space between the compressed ground cake and the screen through which the water comes out of the espresso. That space is necessary due to the expansion of the grounds once they get wetted by hot water and if it’s created, there can be a mess while brewing. But you need to have the right tamping tool to do it right, and that’s a tamper.
What is tamper?
This is simply a tool that packs grounds into the filter basket. It packs the grounds evenly for a quality shot. But you need to learn the trick of using this tool to make a great cup of espresso. But before that, you need to get the right tamper. There are numerous factors that you need to check before settling on one.
Types of tampers
Tampers come in different shapes, weights, sizes, and colours. But a good tamper is made from lightweight metal and should match the filter basket of the portafilter of your espresso machine. If you have more than one basket, then you may need one or two-sided tamper. There are four different types of tampers that are popular with professional baristas. Here are the 4 basic styles?
- Dual-Head Tamper - this one is the most popular with baristas using multiple filter baskets. It actually looks like a lopsided dumbbell. It comes with two flat ends where one is small than the other. This enables the barista to use one tamper on two different baskets.
- Handle Tamper - these tampers can be mistaken by the old-fashioned rubber stamp. The tampers can be identified by their knob material that’s mostly made from metal or wood and mostly nice hardwood. They are popular with baristas since they allow you to add more force to the basket.
- Weight-Calibrated tamper- this option usually comes with the handle of the tamper. With this version, you can monitor the force that you are applying on the grounds. The tamper is mostly in commercial coffee brewing where maintaining a certain taste or uniformity is crucial.
Tips for Choosing the Right Tamper
If you are going to the market for a new tamper from either of the mention versions, few tips can help you pick the best one. You don’t want to brew low quality espresso or experience pains and strains in hand just because you picked the wrong tamper. These are tips to help you choose the right tamper:
- Right diameter- make sure that the diameter of the tamper fits your baskets.
- Although some espresso machine comes with a built in tamper, we would recommend a separate tamper.
- Be ready to spend. Quality is important and that why you should be ready to spend more on this tool. Check with Baristawarehouse.com.au for top quality tampers and tamping mats and stands.
- Material and weight- go for a material that’s durable such as metal or hardwood and don’t pick a type that’s too heavy as you might experience pains and strains.