Looking For The Best Espresso Tamper? (Coffee Tamper Reviews)
- Espresso Tampers Explained
- Tamper Varieties
- The Top 5 Espresso Tampers of 2019
- THE VERDICT
Does the built-in tamper on your machine leave lots to be desired? Or maybe you just got a fancy new espresso machine and need the best espresso tamper to match it?
Whatever your reason, a quality tamper is super important for so many reasons. I will show you why you need a great espresso tamper and which ones are the highest rated for 2019.
Espresso Tampers Explained
So first, what is an espresso tamper (and also what is a coffee tamper or what is a tamper tool…. hint hint, they're the same!).
Simple - it is a tool used to evenly compress the espresso grinds into the basket (aka portafilter) of the espresso machine to make a high quality shot of espresso. When the espresso is properly tamped the water will push through packed grinds and pick up the oils of the coffee and become a delicious shot of espresso.
“Coffee grinds aren’t always uniformly dense so we need to compress them together, eliminating that void space … the grind size is the deciding factor for flow rate; not the amount of air between the grinds" (1) - Barista Hustle
Is there a way to tamp espresso without a tamper? Sure. You could use your thumb to press down the grinds or maybe a small shot glass. These will work in a pinch but if you truly want to make great espresso, get a tamper … keep the shot glass for liquor only.
While tamping espresso can take a while to master, beginning with a great espresso tamper will help you immensely (2). You already have a great espresso machine so a good tamper may just be the missing piece in your puzzle to brew amazing, cream rich espresso.
Now what to look for…
The size of the tamper
Espresso tamper sizes vary in millimeters from 48 mm to 58 mm with most brands utilizing a 58 mm size tamper.
Many tampers will include the size of the basket right in their name (i.e. The Motta Professional Coffee Tamper, 58mm). Still lost? It would be best to check out an Espresso Tamper Sizing Guide so you can choose the perfect tamper size for your machine (3).
The weight of the tamper
To apply the right amount of pressure your tamper needs to weight around 1-2 pounds.
PRO TIP: you'll want to apply 30 pounds of pressure to your espresso when tamping. This is much easier to achieve with a nice heavy tamper (when compared to something lightweight)
Skip tampers made of plastic and opt for one made of a nice heavy material (maybe stainless steel…). According to customers and baristas, tampers around 1 pound seem to be the best.
Convex vs Flat?
A convex tamper will have a slightly rounded surface while a flat tamper is (you guessed it) completely flat. Convex tampers are said to help prevent channeling by pushing the coffee slightly up the sides of the portafilter. (4)
Has it been calibrated?
A calibrated tamper has a handle that is separated from the base of the tamper. The handle and base will connect and 'click' when pushed to 30 pounds of pressure. Calibrated tampers are perfect for beginner baristas or pros who want to be 100% sure they applied the correct pressure.
This video explains calibrated tampers in depth.
Appearance - How stylish is it?
Like a carved wooden handle like on most Motta tampers? Or want to get even more extravagant and get an engraved coffee tamper or even a custom coffee tamper? Fancy! They all have unique looks - pick what appeals to you!
How much are you willing to spend?
Tampers can be $4 for a basic plastic version to an expensive Pullman Barista Tamper which can be in the $200 range (yes, for just the tamper!). Luckily, our top 5 tampers are all over in price so you will surely be able to find the perfect tamper no matter your budget.
“The pressure used to tamp doesn't need to be aggressive, just consistent. The part that makes the coffee taste good isn't a singular action - it's a combination of multiple factors; importantly the grind size, the yield and the dose.” - Sarah Millard (US Barista)
The Top 5 Espresso Tampers of 2019
We've reviewed the best espresso tampers to make it easier for you to decide and choose:
|Espro Calibrated Flat Tamper||CHECK PRICE →|
|Zoie and Chloe Stainless Steel Espresso Tamper||CHECK PRICE →|
|Rattleware Round Handle Tamper||CHECK PRICE →|
|Benicci Espresso Coffee Tamper||CHECK PRICE →|
|Reg Barber Tall Bubinga Tamper||CHECK PRICE →|
The Espro Calibrated Flat Tamper is factory regulated to deliver 30 pounds of tamping pressure with every use which means a perfect shot of espresso every time. The fact that this tamper weighs one pound is also awesome as the heavy weight makes applying 30 pounds of pressure so easy.
The Espro just feels like a nice solid tool to use. And speaking of solid tools, there is a one year factory warranty on this tamper which is perfect for anyone who is wary of spending a lot (this tamper is one of the more expensive on our list). We also love the fact that this tamper is available in multiple sizes so you can definitely find one that will fit your portafilter. (5)
A consistent shot of espresso each and every time you tamp is what the Espro Calibrated Flat Tamper will give you - isn't that always the goal?.
Check out this video to see the Espro in action:
- Consistent 30 pounds of tamping pressure
- Available in multiple sizes
- Nice weight- a stainless steel base with aluminum handle
- An expensive tamper
If you are looking to add some color to your espresso machine set up, the brushed stainless steel on the Zoie and Chloe espresso tamper comes in three vibrate options: red, blue or rose gold (how trendy!). The handles also screw apart from the base of the tamper so you can easily clean the tamper or switch to a new handle color.
This tamper is on the smaller side, only 49 mm, which will definitely fit most espresso portafilters, especially the smaller baskets typical of home espresso machines. It has a nice ergonomic design and is easy to hold and use.
The Zoie and Chloe is also very well priced, a feature anyone can appreciate!
- Colorful stainless steel
- Great price
- Good weight and designs for easy use
- Hand wash only- not dishwasher safe (boo)
- Small size of the base may be too small for larger portafilers (which would cause unevenly packed espresso)
Solid. Sturdy. Does the job. That is the Rattleware Round Handle tamper in a nutshell.
Weighing close to a pound, the weight of the tamper will greatly help to apply that magical 30 pounds of pressure needed to create a perfect espresso shot. The 58 mm base is the standard size of many portafilters so there's a great chance it will work with your espresso machine.
While the Rattleware tamper isn't as fancy as others, we kind of like the simplicity of the silver base and black handle - you can't beat a classic look! Not a bad price either for a piece of equipment that should last you years and years to come.
- Heavy, durable build
- Evenly flat stainless steel base
- Decent price
- Handle is on the shorter side which can be hard to use if you have larger hands
- No bells and whistles (this could also be considered a pro depending on your view…)
Weighing in at almost a pound and a half, this is one hefty tamper. All that weight will make it almost effortless to pack your espresso grounds. The Benicci tamper is one piece of solid stainless steel that is guaranteed to be rust free throughout the life of the tamper (and the company claims it will last forever).
The 58 mm convex base is perfect for most home espresso systems and should pack the espresso in a way that will prevent channeling thanks to the rounded bottom. The sleek design and bright silver metal will also just look great while you are making espresso.
What is especially cool is that if you don't like how this tamper works, you have a 60 day money back guarantee.
- Solid, single body construction
- 60 day money back guarantee
- Commercial grade, rust free stainless steel
- Metal may scratch easily
- Only available in 58 mm size
Choosing the best tamper can definitely be a matter of preference and that is why the Reg Barber tamper has ended up on this list - almost every part of it is customizable.
Offering four different bases (stainless steel, aluminum, brass or copper), you can choose the look and the weight of the metal. So if you like a super heavy tamper, go for the brass base but be aware that it’s the hardest to clean.
With every handle in the Reg Barber collection being interchangeable, you can easily adapt your tamper to suit your current style - wood, aluminum, colored stainless steel…the choices are endless. You can also choose the ergonomics of the handle so if you have larger hands, there is a long handle waiting just for you to make using the tamper a breeze.
Reg Barber can also add any logo you'd like to the end of the handle making it completely unique and might I add, pretty bad ass. Oh and they are also all handmade. Seems ideal for someone who really wants a tamper that has eye appeal but also the quality and craftsmanship to make a great espresso.
- Each tamper is handmade
- Completely customizable from the base to the handle
- Extremely well known brand
- Maybe a few too many options- how do you choose?!
Espresso pros and happy customers have voted with their money (and reviews). The Espro Calibrated Flat Tamper is the number one tamper for a multitude of reasons. This heavy tamper has great ergonomic appeal even when compared to the Reg Baber who usually leads the pack on this point.
It leads the pack as the best calibrated tamper and the calibration ensures that the pressure used to pack the espresso is the same every time and is something a professional or novice barista would love.
It is universally appealing as it is available in multiple sizes to perfectly fit your machines portafilter and therefore the flat base will have little wiggle room to cause channeling when making your shot.
Why is tamping necessary?
Tamping is necessary for you to fully enjoy the richness and bold flavor of a properly made espresso. The purpose for doing so is so that water will need to force its way through the coffee grounds, thereby allowing for more time for it to extract the flavor from the coffee. This results in the perfect shot of espresso.
How do you tamp down espresso?
First, you have to make sure that the portafilter basket is clean and dry, then add ground espresso to the basket with the goal of creating an even bed of grounds. Then using your finger, even out the basket and brush aside any grounds that are on the rim before tamping. Finally, tamp the shot by placing an even extraction using about 30 pounds of pressure. Here is a guide to tamping espresso.
How do I know what tamper size to buy?
The rule of thumb is that it should be somewhat smaller than the inside diameter of your portafilter basket in order to evenly tamp your coffee grounds. Over the years, compilations have been made containing a list of tampers for many popular espresso machines. Choose a tamper that is at least 0.75mm smaller than your filter basket measurement.
- How Hard Should You Tamp? (2019, May 20). Retrieved June 10, 2019, from https://baristahustle.com/blog/how-hard-should-you-tamp/
- Manfredi, E. D. (2015, January 19). How to: Tamping. Retrieved June 10, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfcS1F5tXnQ
- Espresso Tamper Sizing Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2019, from https://www.espressozone.com/learning-center/espresso-tamper-sizing-guide
- How to fix espresso shot channelling. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2019, from https://www.mycuppa.com.au/how-i-solved-my-irritating-coffee-channelling-problem
McAllister, K. (2010, April 15). The Espro Calibrated Tamper. Retrieved June 10, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4KvSMc1ViM