7 Best Espresso Tamping Mats (2023 Reviews)
Tamping mats are a common sight in cafes. Yet, people often overlook them in the home barista’s setup. Espresso tamper mats are designed to prevent damage from repetitive tamping to both your counter and your portafilter. So, do you need one if you’re only making a couple of coffees a day?
Read the guide below to see how an espresso tamping mat can help you with your brewing. You’ll also find some of the best mats you can buy right now.
At A Glance:
- OUR TOP PICK: Rhino Classic Tamping Mat
- GREAT VALUE: Yolococa Coffee Tamper Mat
- FEATURE FILLED: Apexstone Silicone Coffee Tamper Mat
The Best Tamper Mats in 2023
If you’re in the market for your first tamping mat, you have plenty to choose from. From the most basic designs to models with a few extra features, here are our favorite coffee tamping mats.
1. Rhino Classic Tamping Mat – Best Overall
Rhino Classic Tamping Mat gets our top pick for being such a good all-rounder at a great price.
It might not have all the features of other tamping mats, but that doesn’t matter.
The compact size makes it suitable for pretty much any countertop.
Moreover, the flat shape is easier to store than a corner mat. It’s made from an extra thick food-grade silicone that provides plenty of padding between your portafilter and your counter – you won’t have to worry about chipping anymore.
There’s a tamper rest in one corner and a raised edge to help keep things clean. It’s everything you need in a tamping mat and nothing you don’t.
The Rhino brand is well known among coffee professionals and home baristas who want professional quality gear. The company makes a huge range of accessories for brewing, including milk pitchers, thermometers, and even spare parts for grinders.
2. Rattleware Espresso Tamping Mat – Budget Pick
Let’s face it. Getting all the equipment to make the perfect espresso at home can be costly. So it’s nice to know that not everything you need comes with a hefty price tag.
The discount price you pay does mean you miss out on features like a tamper rest or a raised edge, but the main job of a tamping mat is to provide protection. Made from 1/4 inch heavy-duty rubber, this is a solid and durable surface for all-day tamping.
It might be cheap, but Rattleware is a reputable brand for coffee equipment. The company makes a wide range of professional accessories, including knock boxes, thermometers, and stainless steel tampers.
3. Barista Basics Tamping Mat – Best for Commercial Use
This tamper mat looks pretty similar to most of the others on our list, but there is one key difference: it’s made from rubber. NBR rubber has higher tensile strength and better abrasion resistance than silicone, making it a better choice to use in commercial settings. This mat will take the pounding from your portafilter day after day.
As the name suggests, the Barista Basics brand by Espresso Parts makes products for more professional coffee makers, with an emphasis on ergonomics and durability. This mat has a simple design, with just a raised edge to prevent grounds from spilling on your counter. It only requires rinsing to clear but is also dishwasher safe if you want to give it a good wash from time to time.
The Barista Basics tamper mat is also available in a 6 x 6-inch size for smaller spaces.
4. Yolococa Coffee Tamper Mat – Best Value for Money
While none of the mats here will break the bank, the Yolococoa Coffee Tamper Mat comes at a perfect price if you’re looking for a few extra features.
Like most of the mats, you’ll come across, it’s created from food-grade silicone, creating a heat-resistant, non-slip surface to work on. In addition, it’s coated in a special non-toxic spray developed by Yolococa that is designed to have anti-dust properties, which is a great feature to have when you need to wipe off coffee fines. Any residue will come off by rinsing with water.
In one corner, you’ll find a 60mm tamper rest, which should be large enough to fit any size tamper that you might have. This particular model has a raised edge to keep grounds in place while you’re tamping.
Yolococa also makes a larger 5 x 12-inch rectangular mat and an 8 x 6-inch corner mat.
5. Apexstone Silicone Coffee Tamper Mat – Best Corner Mat
Depending on your kitchen setup, a corner tamper mat could be the best choice for you. The overhang prevents the mat from moving as you tamp, which is helpful if you have a particularly slippery countertop (or if you tend to get carried away with your tamping!) The fact that it sits right on edge can also be a benefit if space is tight.
This silicone coffee tamper mat from Apexstone integrates a portafilter rest into the overhang. The semi-circle shape follows the curve of the group head to provide even more stability during the tamping process. However, you should be aware that it’s not designed to be used with naked (bottomless) portafilters.
There’s a roomy 63mm rest to hold your tamper when not in use. The base of the rest contains raised bumps to help the tamper dry out and prevent it from sticking to the silicone surface.
6. Joy-Now Soft Silicone Coffee Tamper Mat – Best Mini Tamping Mat
We all might like to have a dedicated corner of the kitchen as a barista station, but sometimes there’s not enough space. If you’re stuck with a tiny counter, you can still enjoy a professional setup; you just might need to downsize a little.
This tamping mat from Joy-Now is about as small as you’re going to get. The circular mat has enough space to hold a tamper up to 60 mm, but nothing else. It’s designed to hold your tamper when not in use and provide a small but durable patch of protection for your benchtop when preparing your puck.
When using a tamping mat this small, you’ll have to be extra careful to use a steady motion to press your coffee. Silicone does have excellent high-grip properties (1), but something this small won’t have the same stability as mats with a larger surface area.
7. Kyonano Espresso Tamping Mat – Best Drainage
The Kyonano Espresso Tamping Mat looks a little different, and that’s because it’s designed to serve double-duty. As well as a tamping mat, it’s also a drying mat for your espresso cups, milk pitcher, or latte glasses.
The entire surface of this large mat is covered in raised nodules, which keep your portafilter (or anything else) off the base when drying. They also give you extra stability when preparing your coffee.
The amount of pressure is not nearly as important as your consistency and ability to keep the tamp perfectly level.
The texture ensures there’s no slipping across the mat – even if you press hard.
Kyonano has used platinum silicone for the construction, which is classed as medical grade. This has all of the benefits of food-grade silicone but with a longer lifespan (2). The mat has an additional non-stick coating that will make cleaning easier.
How to Choose the Right Espresso Tamping Mat
At its most basic, a tamping mat is a straightforward bit of kit. But there can be more to these things than meets the eye. Here are a few things you should take into consideration before buying.
Do I really need a coffee tamper mat?
This is the critical question you’re probably asking yourself. A tamping mat makes sense in a professional setting, but what about at home? If you care about your gear and your kitchen, then it’s certainly worth the investment. Tamping directly on your benchtop, you not only run the risk of damaging your counter but also yourself.
All it takes is one lazy and unlucky tamp to cause wrist strain and discomfort.
Even if you’re not making enough coffee to give yourself a barista wrist (3), brewing your morning cup of joe should be as ergonomic as possible. Having a secure non-slip surface to work on also makes it easier to apply even pressure when tamping, which will help you get a better cup of coffee.
Silicone vs rubber
Most mats you come across will be made of either silicone or rubber, which each have their strengths. Silicone is an increasingly popular choice for use in kitchens, as it is resistant to temperatures up to 446 F (4). Rubber is more resistant to abrasion, making it a better choice for heavy use situations such as cafes.
Size and shape
The size and shape of the mat you buy will mainly be determined by the space you have on your counter.
Tamping mats generally come in two designs: flat or corner.
You can place a flat mat right up to the front of your espresso machine for efficient coffee making, and the shape makes it easier to store if needed. A corner mat has an overhang that provides extra stability when applying pressure and often includes a portafilter rest for more ergonomic tamping.
A tamping mat might be easily left off the shopping list for your espresso setup, but this tiny bit of kit can make brewing a little more comfortable. For a mat that covers all the basics, we like the Rhino Classic Tamping Mat. It’s a brand with an excellent reputation for durability, and it comes at a competitive price.
The best espresso tamper is not always the one that comes with your espresso machine. Heavy tampers made from metal rather than plastic will make it easier to apply the pressure required. You’ll also want one that suits your style and your budget.
You need a knock box if you want to take the best care of your portafilter. People often use the side of the trash bin or even the sink, but this can cause damage to the portafilter, as well as transfer germs. Using a knock box also makes it easier to keep the coffee grounds separate for composting.
If you tamp coffee too hard, the water will take longer to make its way through the puck, resulting in over-extraction (5). However, excessive pressure when tamping will probably hurt your wrist, so you’re more likely to have problems with under tamping or uneven tamping.
- Silicone anti-slip. Elkem. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.elkem.com/markets/personal-care-consumer-goods/textile-leather/non-slip-silicone-coatings
- Medical-grade silicone vs food-grade: Errly Bird breaks it down 2019. HotBox Magazine. (2021, August 4). Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://thehotboxmagazine.com/errly-bird-breaks-down-medical-grade-silicone/
- Barista wrist: It’s real! Food Republic. (2011, July 29). Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.foodrepublic.com/2011/07/29/barista-wrist-its-real/
- Silicone vs nitrile: Articles. Jehbco Silicones. (2021, April 1). Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://jehbco.com.au/silicone-vs-nitrile/
- What happens if you tamp espresso too hard? Majesty Coffee School. (2020, July 14). Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://majestycoffee.com/pages/what-happens-if-you-tamp-espresso-too-hard