PuqPress Automatic Tamper Review: Is It Worth The Cost?
For the average home espresso lover, an expensive automatic tamper probably seems like an extravagance. But, for a professional barista preparing hundreds of espressos a day or anyone prone to wrist and shoulder injuries, the PuqPress is absolutely money well spent.
There are three different models of PuqPress. In this review, we’ll discuss all of them: the Mini, the Q1, and the Q2. Keep reading for all the details. You’ll learn if an automatic tamper is a worthwhile use of your hard-earned cash and which model is the right fit for your home or business.
Summary: The PuqPress Tamper
- Compact and efficient freestanding automatic tamper that ensures perfectly compressed coffee grounds
- Available in three models to suit different capacity needs of homes and businesses
- Simple to use, clean, and maintain
A great little piece of equipment. It is remarkably consistent, takes up very little counter space and saves the wrists of baristas everywhere!– Michael A.
The Full PuqPress Automatic Tamper Review
The PuqPress tamper is made by a barista technology company based in the Netherlands. The company’s founder, Laurens Plumiers, initially worked with jack-up rigs, huge ships able to lift themselves out of the water. In 2011, he put this same technology to work on a much tinier scale, tamping coffee and has found success in the decades since (1).
There are a few reasons one might purchase an automatic tamper, which is, of course, far more expensive than a traditional tamper. The main one is consistency. For a professional barista, the tamp is the part of the espresso-making process most prone to human error. Even a skilled barista struggles to achieve a perfectly level tamp with identical pressure every single time, especially when making hundreds of espresso a day. That makes tamping ripe for automation.
The other reason to buy an automatic tamper is to prevent or manage an injury. If you’ve ever spoken with a professional barista with experience in busy cafes, you’ll have heard of Barista Wrist. In the same way, office workers get repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel, and baristas develop pain from the tamping day in and day out. Zac Cadwalader, the managing editor at Sprudge, explains the danger.
A repetitive motion injury, Barista Wrist is the result of tamping—the thing baristas do hundreds of times a day—using an unnatural, not ergonomic wrist position.
A 2018 report found that Barista Wrist was responsible for the most time lost of any restaurant-related injury because it can take so long to recover (2).
Most home users don’t make enough espresso to worry about repetitive strain. But if a pre-existing injury hampers you to the wrist or shoulder, an automatic tamper will save you a lot of grief.
There are three models of the PuqPress — the Mini, the Q1, and the Q2 — and for the most part, they are very similar. In this review, we’ll consider all three and make a note of where differences arise. Mainly, each is for a different usage level. The Mini is for home use, the Q1 is for light-duty commercial use, and the Q2 is for heavy-duty commercial use.
Design – 4/5
Each model of the PuqPress looks essentially the same. In fact, all three have the exact dimensions, measuring 11.3″ tall by 7.7″ deep by 5.6″ wide. The main difference visible from the outside is the design of the portafilter holder on each.
The freestanding PuqPress has a cheery aesthetic, with its curved lines and small footprint. It doesn’t feel overly industrial and honestly looks just as appropriate on the bar at a busy cafe as it does on a home countertop.
Each PuqPress, including the least expensive Mini model, is available in two colours, either matte black or white. In the most recent editions, the brand has added a new non-stick finish, which is attractive and repels stains and clinging coffee grounds. When it might be hard to keep the counter looking clean and professional during a busy rush, you can trust that at least your tamper will be spick and span.
Tamping Capability – 4.5/5
The tamping capability varies depending on which model you choose, but each one is well-suited to its designated use. We’ll discuss the differences in detail below, but first, let’s mention a few similarities between the Mini, Q1, and Q2.
All three are very easy to use and guarantee a perfectly flat and level tamp. They have an on/off switch on the back and a touchpad on the side that uses obvious + and – buttons to adjust the various settings. The PuqPress operates hands-free. Once you’ve turned it on and set your tamping parameters, all you need to do is insert a portafilter full of coffee, and it knows what to do.
The other thing they all share is the same range of diameters. You can adjust the tamper diameter from 53 mm to 58.3 mm no matter the model. The vast majority of commercial espresso machines use 58 mm portafilters, and this range should also cover most home machines.
An exception is specific lower-end semi-automatic espresso machines designed for domestic use. For example, many DeLonghi models use 51 mm baskets. While the crossover between people buying automatic tampers and using very cheap espresso machines is likely tiny, it’s worth double-checking the filter basket diameter on your espresso machine before you invest in a PuqPress.
Although PuqPress markets Mini towards domestic use, it is still designed to perform up to 100 tamps a day. Such capacity is an enormous amount of espresso for the average home. Plus, you can adjust its tamping pressure in 1 kg increments from 10 to 30 kg. Finally, Mini is compatible with all types of portafilters. These include bottomless portafilters, which are very popular among enthusiastic home baristas.
Q1 is for light-duty commercial work, perhaps a catering business or a restaurant or bar where coffee is available but not the main focus. It can perform up to 300 tamps a day, so triple the capacity of Mini, though, unlike Mini, it is not compatible with bottomless portafilters. You can adjust the tamping pressure in 1 kg increments from 10 to 30 kg as with Mini.
Q2 is the big brother of the line-up, designed for unlimited daily tamps. It’s like the Energiser bunny of tamping; it just keeps going. If you’re running a busy coffee shop, you will appreciate its durability and consistency. Like Mini, Q2 is compatible with all styles of the portafilter, including bottomless.
Q2 has a few features that distinguish it from the cheaper models and justify its cost upgrade along with the increased capacity.
First, you can adjust the tamping pressure through a broader range, from 5 to 30 kg, again in 1 kg steps. But you can also set tamping profiles. The profiles, however, alter the tamping speed to influence the finished beverage or increase efficiency (3). Q2 has five profiles: Speedy, Precision, Hulk, Soft, and Single.
Durability – 4/5
Every PuqPress comes with a two-year warranty. For the Q2, that means at least a million guaranteed tamps; for the Q1, it’s over 200,000; and for the Mini, it’s nearly 75,000. And that’s just the first two years. Provided you treat your PuqPress correctly, you should expect many years of loyal service. And you’ll be happy to learn that treating it correctly is a piece of cake, with just a simple cleaning procedure.
Depending on usage, about once a week, give or take, press the cleaning button, remove a bolt, and unscrew the tamp to give it a quick inside cleaning. This whole procedure takes only a minute or two, and the tools needed are included with your PuqPress. Finish off with a quick swipe of the exterior, which you can easily do, thanks to the new non-stick coating. You’ll be good to go for another high-volume week of tamping.
Value for Money 3.5/5
Value for money is perhaps the area in which there is the biggest difference between the three models.
PuqPress Mini retails for about 8 to 10 times the cost of a standard tamper. To put it even more in perspective, you’ll pay more for PuqPress Mini than you would for a great espresso grinder like the Eureka Mignon Specialita. If you’re a home espresso enthusiast, even if you’re making upwards of ten shots a day, it’s hard to justify that kind of cost — unless you have an injury that prevents using a traditional tamper. Even though it saves you having to buy other accessories, like a tamper mat, there are, in my opinion, better ways to spend your money that will add more quality to your espresso.
On the other hand, Q1 is only about $50 more than Mini, and Q2 is another $250 or so above that. If you’re running a coffee business, the value for money for either of these commercial models is much higher.
By investing in PuqPress, you’re ensuring a faster and more efficient workflow, which will keep customers happy and earn you more money.
You’re also guaranteeing healthier and happier baristas, which translates to better service, lower staff turnover, and fewer workplace injury claims. And finally, you’re ensuring consistency between baristas. That means less time training and supervising staff and that customers know they can rely on you for the same great espresso on every visit.
All of those benefits are like money in your pocket, making the initial outlay for PuqPress a wise spending choice indeed.
Don’t Buy the Puqpress If…
You don’t make a lot of coffee – Even the smallest model of PuqPress, the Mini, is rated to 100 tamps per day. If you only make a few shots of espresso a day, there is absolutely no need for a PuqPress unless you have an injury that prevents you from tamping.
You’re on a budget – If you don’t want to shell out for the PuqPress but still want to ensure consistency in tamping, consider a calibrated manual tamper like the Luxhaus or Espro tampers, the latter of which was the top-rated in our list of good ones. These are calibrated to guarantee you apply the same pressure to each puck, and they’re about a tenth the cost of a PuqPress.
You have a very small portafilter – The PuqPress covers a good range of portafilter sizes, from 53 to 58.3 mm diameters, but some machines use smaller baskets. For example, Delonghi’s popular home models, like the EC155 and Dedica, or unique manual brewers like the Flair. Of course, none of these are machines you’d expect to find in a high-volume setting. But if you own a machine with a smaller basket, you’ll need to look for an appropriately sized tamper.
The PuqPress Tamper is becoming popular in the coffee industry, but it isn’t for everybody. Indeed, it’s the rare home user who will get total value from this machine. But for a busy cafe or anyone prone to wrist and shoulder injuries, the PuqPress is an attractive solution. It may be expensive upfront, but it will undoubtedly save you money and grief in the long run.
- Bean Scene Magazine. (2020, April). The rise of Puqpress. Retrieved from https://www.beanscenemag.com.au/the-rise-of-puqpress/
- Cadwalader, Z. (2019, January 23). Barista Wrist Leads All Restaurant-Related Injuries in Time Lost. Retrieved from https://sprudge.com/barista-wrist-leads-all-restaurant-related-injuries-in-time-lost-139783.html
- Aloe, R. M. (2020, August 14). The Diminishing Returns of Tamping for Espresso. Retrieved from https://towardsdatascience.com/the-diminishing-returns-of-tamping-for-espresso-cac289685059