What Is Tamping And Why Is It Necessary?

crazy by Editorial Staff | Posted on March 31st, 2023

Hey there, coffee enthusiasts! Noah Nighswonger here—full-time barista in New York City and part-time coffee reviewer.


Today, we’re talking about tamping. Don’t worry, it’s not as mysterious as it sounds, and I’m here to guide you through every detail.

espresso tamp

Tamping: The Basics

Tamping is the simple yet essential act of compressing finely ground coffee held within a portafilter. It may seem like a small step, but it plays a significant role in making that perfect espresso shot.

Finding the Right Pressure

So, how much pressure should you apply when tamping? You’ll hear different opinions, but here’s my rule of thumb: press until the tamper isn’t going any further. That’s when the grounds are fully compressed, and further pressure won’t do much. Some folks mention 20-30 lbs of pressure as ideal, but just listen to the coffee—it’ll “push back” when it’s ready.

The Importance of Form and Consistency

When it comes to tamping, good form is key. Trust me—I’ve been a barista for three years, and my wrist can feel the difference. Tamping should be enjoyable and sustainable, whether you’re a home barista or a pro.

Step-by-Step Guide to Tamping

  1. Distribution: Evenly distribute the coffee in the portafilter.
  2. Proper Form: Hold the tamper with a straight wrist and 90-degree elbow angle.
  3. Apply Pressure: Press down until the coffee grounds are fully compressed.
  4. Check for Level: Ensure the surface of the coffee is uniform.
  5. Pull Shot & Evaluate: Start pulling your shot and evaluate the results.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do: Practice good form from the start and ask experienced baristas for help.
  • Don’t: Avoid second tamps, polishing, and nutation.

The Right Tools: Comparing different tampers:

Type of TamperDescriptionAdvantagesDisadvantages
Precision TampAdjustable depth, evenly distributes pressureConsistent results, adjustable depthMore expensive
Palm TampAllows for pressure application using the palmReduces wrist strain, ergonomicLess traditional
Old-School TampClassic tamper with a handleTraditional feel, wide varietyMay cause wrist strain if used incorrectly

And that’s a wrap on tamping! With these tips, you’re on your way to pulling fantastic espresso shots. Happy brewing!

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Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.