How To Use My Tamper


The ergonomics of tamping is very important for the professional barista as well as the occasional home user.

We all have different hand shapes and sizes and preferences for how we do things. It is important that your grip is comfortable and that you can easily control the tamper.

To assist in achieving good ergonomics, Cafeen tampers come with three spacer rings to provide four handle heights. Refer to Figure 2 showing how to unscrew the handle and add to or take away the number of spacers. If you have large hands use all three spacers. Depending on hand size and comfort, use 2 or 1 or even no spacers if you have very small hands. We recommend the grip shown in Figure 1 with your thumb pressing on the rubber curve above the base. This stops all the downward force pressing on the inside of your palm. In addition, we recommend that your wrist is kept straight during tamping to provide easy transfer of stress up the arm. Try different numbers of spacers until you have a comfortable grip.

Keep any unused spacers in a safe place in case you ever want to experiment with a different height.

Now you are ready to practice tamping ground coffee.  Fill the filter basket with ground coffee. Rest the portafilter on a tamping base, mat or with its edge on the edge of a bench, and position your body as close to the tamper as possible. Rest the tamper in the filter basket and adjust the angle of the tamper so it is exactly level with the top of the portafilter. Keeping your wrist straight, apply firm even pressure from your shoulder through your elbow and into the tamper to compress the ground coffee while keeping the tamper base parallel with the top of the portafilter.

Initially, do this quite slowly while you get used to the feel while keeping it level. Aim to use about 15kg of force. A simple way to get a feel for this force is to push your tamper onto a set of bathroom scales. Quite quickly you will get a feel for what is 15Kg. With experience you can easily become consistent.

Once you have completed tamping, release the pressure on the tamper and spin the tamper about 90 degrees. This turning action helps give the coffee surface a clean smooth surface and loosens any coffee grounds that may have stuck to the tamper. The tamper should turn freely. If it scrapes on the side of the basket it probably means tamping wasn't level – take more care of that in the future. Ensure there are no grounds around the top edge of the portafilter that will grind against and gradually wear down the group head receptacle of your machine, making sealing less reliable.

Now load the portafilter into your machine and brew a shot of espresso. Aim for about 30ml of espresso per cup (i.e. 30ml total from a single basket and 60ml total from a double basket) in about 25 seconds, timed from when you activate the brew switch. If it takes longer than this, make your grind a bit coarser; if it's faster, adjust the grind a bit finer.

Care and Maintenance

Cafe creative tampers are made using anodized aluminium, stainless steel and synthetic rubber which are impervious to boiling water and common cleaning agents so can be washed or wiped as required. It is recommended that you DO NOT clean in commercial dishwashers or any harsh or caustic chemical cleaners such as bleach or caustic soda, and do not allow any chemicals to dry on the tamper.

The tamper base can be unscrewed for cleaning, however, all that is really needed is a wipe with a damp cloth to remove any dried coffee residue.