Making flavorful espresso shots isn’t all about having good coffee beans and a cutting-edge coffee machine.
Sometimes, what stands between you and a cup of charming cappuccino is a ten-dollar tamper.
It’s a simple tool for compressing coffee grounds to a firm puck inside portafilters. When you pop them into the espresso machine, water travels slowly yet evenly through the grounds.
The result is a matchless brew that leaves a sweet, lingering taste in your mouth! This is why we’re here today with the best espresso tampers available right now.
After all, no amount of frothy milk and caramel clumps can bring back the kick of coffee. For now, let’s see how a coffee tamper can help!
How to Choose a Perfect Tamper?
We can tell you all the barista secrets that make a cup of long black as delicious as it is. But without the right wrist action and tamping, yours will never taste as good. What you need is a quality tamper, and we know how to find it!
The features below can help you make up your mind about what type of tamper you actually need.
Compatibility with Filter Cups
Espresso tampers aren’t exactly the “One size fits all” kind of tools. It’s because different brands of espresso machines use different sizes of filter baskets.
Take a tamper too short, and the puck swells up around the edges; take a size too big, and the tamper doesn’t reach the puck, to begin with. You know you’ve got the size right when the tamper and the portafilter fit like two Lego bricks.
For one, you shouldn’t be able to see the coffee grounds when you press the tamper down on them. Tampers are measured by the size of their diameters and are now available in 50mm, 53mm, 55mm, and 58mm sizes.
Between a chrome-plated and a stainless steel tamper, we do prefer the stainless steel one. First, we know for a fact that it’s not going to chip off and leave tiny metal flakes in our coffee.
Secondly, these espresso tampers aren’t stainless steel all the way. They usually have solid iron on the inside. It makes them much heavier so that you don’t have to do all the compressing by yourself.
The reason why you’ll probably see a professional barista use a regular, dual-sided espresso tamper is thathe has mastered the technique. He knows exactly how much pressure he needs to apply and for how long.
Well, there’s an easy way around. A calibrated tamper has a spring-loaded layout that allows it to regulate pressure. Its sophisticated yet simple mechanism also allows the tamper to evenly compress coffee grounds.
Most espresso tampers these days feature a flat tamping surface. You can’t expect the right amount of acidity and sweetness from your coffee unless you level the loose coffee grounds.
Because one way or another, the extraction process will be compromised. That is why you need a flat puck of ground coffee before you brew it.
Yes, it all makes sense. However, there’s a second type of espresso tamper, and it’s pretty awesome as well. Find out more below!
A convex tamper is pointy at the center of its base. When you press it against the coffee grounds, you sink the middle of the puck more than the rest of it.
Now, it creates a tight seal in between the edge of the portafilter and coffee grounds.
When you put this filter basket inside the espresso machine, hot water can’t break through the seal and over-extract your grounds. This way, you get a slow, flavorful brew and ultimately a shot of delicious espresso.
Maintenance and Safety
Espresso tampers don’t require a lot of maintenance,except for occasional cleaning (duh!). You can pop those food-safe tampers in the dishwasher. Check if the product specifically mentions that it’s dishwasher-safe.
It’s common for espresso tampers to suffer from early discoloration. After all, coffee grounds are full of natural oils and acids. They react with the tamping surface and cause it to become darker.
Look for non-coated tampers if you don’t want chemical residues in your morning cup of joe. The LuxHaus espresso tamper is not only food-safe but also BPA-free. It’s calibrated and is a total bargain!
Calibrated vs. Non-Calibrated Tampers
Between a regular and a calibrated espresso tamper, the latter is more suitable for beginners. With a calibrated tamper, you no longer have to worry about over-compressing coffee.
On the other hand, a regular tamper is way cheaper. However,it might take multiple trials and errors before you get the hang of applying consistent pressure every time.
Ease of Use
A calibrated tamper has a spring-piston design. Once you press down on its handle, the handle starts to lower itself on the base.
It keeps the pressure the same throughout the process compared to a regular tamper, where the pressure from your fingers directly moves to the tamping base.
All in all, it depends on what type of espresso tamper you’re comfortable using.
Difference in Design
Non-calibrated espresso tampers usually have a one-piece construction if they’re made of wood. Those handy dual-sided tampers are also non-calibrated since both ends of the tool are used as tamping surfaces.
In a way, it’s quite easy to find the right size tamper when they are non-calibrated.
On the flip side, it’s quite difficult to know when to stop compressing the grounds with a non-calibrated tamper. After all, there’s no spring-action that tells you when you exceed the desired pressure level.
6 Best Espresso Tampers Review
You just need one good-quality espresso tamper to make sweet and savory coffee for life! And we have 6 quintessential coffee tampers that are perfect for the job. Without further ado, let’s get down to business!
HIC Dual-Sided Espresso Tamper
Tamping coffee grounds make all the difference in your espresso recipe. And that’s why you’ll find this dual-sided espresso tamper quite useful. It evenly compresses coffee grounds into the flattest puck- adding the magic to your macchiato!
For starters, we do love a double-sided espresso tamper for its straightforward shape. You don’t have to be a barista to master its techniques; we believe that’s what makes this espresso tamper so popular. We especially like how weighty it is.
After all, using a heavy-weight tamper means you don’t have to press down on the grounds yourself. It makes the whole process a lot quicker and doesn’t require you to put in any extra work.
One side of this tamper measures exactly 55mm, and the other side measures 50mm. You have no reason to worry about the fit because you get two sizes in one. The tamper is totally compatible with all common portafilter baskets.
Moving on, the product is equipped with a 4-ounce load. Compared to a lightweight tamper, it really helps you level the grounds and keep everything tightly pressedin.
From our everyday experience with homemade coffee, this is one of the tampers that made way for mouth-watering mocha. And it’s probably one of our coolest finds from the Internet, apart from our espresso machine, of course!
As for maintenance, all you have to do is hand-wash the tamper with soapy water and let it dry. We personally don’t like to wash our tamper everyday as it sometimes led to discoloring.
De’Longhi DLSC058 Coffee Tamper
If you already have a Delonghi espresso machine, it’s only a matter of time till you look for a DeLonghi tamper. Featuring a weight-calibrated design and a 51mm base, this coffee tamper will take your espresso game to new heights!
To begin with, this DeLonghi coffee tamper works with all pump espresso makers. It delivers a flawless leveling performance- thanks to its 51mm base diameter.
As you might already know, it’s the accurate size for most portafilter baskets. So, it’s not going to sink in and make the grounds rise up from the sides.
Other than its efficiency, we couldn’t help but notice how elegant the tamper looks. It uses natural wood as the handle and a robust stainless-steel base as the tamping surface.
Previously, we’ve had a bittersweet experience with store-bought espresso tampers. They were either too lightweight or too tricky to use. It’s safe to say that De’Longhi will make the espresso-tamping process much easier for their new users. For example, this flat tamper comes with a handle for you to hold.
As simple as it sounds, this knob-like handle actually helps you spread all five fingers around it and apply even pressure. It’s a bit problematic with dual-head tampers- one of the reasons why you get an uneven level of coffee grounds in the first place.
Last but not least, this DeLonghi tamper is calibrated to apply a certain amount of pressure on the grounds. Now, you have absolutely no risk of over-tamping your coffee grounds or doing the opposite of that.
RSVP International Dual-Sided Espresso Tamper
With two flat tamping ends, this espresso tamper is the unsung hero behind every cup of creamy cortado! In fact, it has a few uses in baking as well. The RSVP dual-sided espresso tamper is one of our all-time favorites for its quality and versatility.
In fact, this espresso tamper is not limited to tamping coffee grounds only. This one is actually a multifunctional tool that presses pastries into pans. And that’s not all. With the help of its 58mm base, you can shape mini sliders and patties, especially when you’re in the mood for some fast food.
That brings us to our second best-liked feature of this premium tamper. We are indeed talking about its large, 58mm tamping base. Of course, there is the standard 51mm base on the other side. But this slightly bigger base has got different models of coffee makers and filter cups covered.
Now, as much as you prefer not having chemicals in your food, there will always be a dicey utensil that is bad for you. For example, low-quality tampers can actually react with acids found in ground coffee and shed their “chemical coating.”
It’s probably one of the reasons why coffee connoisseurs prefer wood to alloy for their espresso tampers.
Lucky for you, this RSVP espresso tamper is made of a safe cast-alloy without a flimsy finish. It won’t get discolored after a few rounds of dishwashing- if that’s something you’re concerned about.
Apexstone 51mm Coffee Tamper
What we have here is the Apexstone espresso tamper. And it probably doubles up as a doorknob too. Jokes aside, it’s one of the coolest-looking espressotampers we’ve had our hands on recently. It has a sturdy base and a handle, and it weighs about 600 grams.
Even if you fill the coffee basket all the way to the top, a good amount of pressure with your Apexstone tamper can lower it down in no time!
And the result is a cup of full-bodied coffee that leaves you wanting more. What better way to start your morning than enjoy a cup of delicious coffee, right?
Moving on, it’s a solid iron tamper with a 51mm base. It is about 80mm tall and allows you to have a nice, firm grip on the handle. This Apexstone espresso tamper is now available in two colors- silver and black.
However, if you prefer a wooden handle, it also offers that in the same pricing. Now, for the downside, this product might not be a great fit for your Nespresso Vertuoline pods.
If you’re using other models of filter cups, you shouldn’t have any problem with the fit. Other than the issue with reusable Nespresso pods, this espresso tamper is one of our favorite tampers to date. There aren’t too many solid tampers out there that are as weighty as Apexstone’s.
Overall, we’re hopeful that this simple tamper will bring out the full-bodied flavors of your espresso. Its key takeaway is its solid iron construction. With a bit of maintenance, you can have this tamper last for years!
Youdepot Stainless Steel Coffee Tamper
Finding a perfect espresso tamper wasn’t easy. But it was even harder to find one that doesn’t rust. Lucky for you, Youdepot has a high-quality coffee tamper that checks all the boxes. It doesn’t rust, nor does it corrode. What’s more, you can get this remarkable product at an unbeatable price!
It’s quite similar to the RSVP dual-sided tamper we reviewed a while back, considering you can press mini sliders with this one too. Frankly, the fact that it’s weighty makes the tamper suitable for plenty of baking and cooking purposes.
And we all love a kitchen tool we can use in more places than one, no?
For now, let’s stick to what this espresso tamper was actually made to do. Well, it distributes coffee grounds evenly inside the filter cup. Thanks to its flat surface, you can press down the coffee grounds snugly against the bottom of the portafilter.
A common issue many people face with a cheap espresso tamper is that it gets loose from where the handle connects to the base.
Thisis why we have searched high and low for a tamper with one-piece construction. Truth be told, we were more than happy to find one from Youdepot,one that is made of 100% solid chrome-plated iron.
We’re positive that you can brew a cup of flavorsome flat white with this tamper. For one, it’s a very well-made coffee tamper. Its exterior has a stainlesssteel finish that makes the tamper withstand rust and discoloration. Next, you can tighten the base should it become loose. Chances are, it’s not going to!
LuxHaus 49mm Calibrated Espresso
Having a perfect brew is all about balance, and LuxHaus is one of the reliable coffee brands that actually get it right. Let us warn you, though;it’s not a cheap espresso tamper that comes under twenty dollars. But it’s safe to say that LuxHaus makes up for it with high-end features.
It’s a weight-calibrated tamping tool, and it’s quite sensitive to pressure. Once fully compressed, the tamper applies constant pressure inside the filter basket. This way, all the air is chucked out, and your coffee grounds are good to go!
If you want the best-tasting coffee every time, take our advice and give this professional espresso tamper a go.
Another reason why we love the LuxHaus coffee tamper is thatit incorporates one hundred percent food-safe stainless steel. It’s not coated with a cheap finish in the first place. So, you don’t have to worry about the metal flaking off the very next month.
Additionally, the handle is BPA-free, and it fits right in your palm. It doesn’t get wobbly, nor does it come off while you’re using it. Which, trust us, is no fun when you’re making coffee in front of your guests.
Rest assured, its 58mm flat base is designed to fit all professional espresso machines from different brands. This LuxHaus tamper makes such a thoughtful gift for a beloved, and you can also pamper yourself with a high-end espresso tamper.
It’s now available in 49mm, 51mm, 53mm, and 58mm sizes. Make sure to measure the inner diameter of your coffee filter basket, excluding the metal lips, to find the right size!
Coffee Tamping Tips and Tricks
When it comes to tamping coffee, you can never be too careful. After all, it doesn’t take long for a cup of doppio to turn into a disaster.
Sounds familiar? Don’t worry. Level up your coffee game with 3 simple tamping tricks!
- Tamp Once
Start by giving the group handle a nice little shake to settle the coffee grounds. For the first tamp, apply only a small amount of pressure. It shapes the puck and gets rid of the big gaps in between.
- And Tamp Twice!
You need to apply more pressure the second time around and finish it off with a subtle turn of your wrist. It’s best to use a calibrated tamper so that the pressure remains constant all the way.
- Prep and Polish
Once you get that perfect dose weight, you’re one step closer to your espresso shots. All there’s left to do is pop the puck inside the coffee brewer. Hold up; you still need to polish the puck. And this is how you do it.
Right after you’ve tamped the coffee for the second time, you need to rotate the tamper. You should do it while pressing down on the puck since it evens everything out.
- Nail Your Nutation
According to Gwilym Davies, the World Barista Champion, rotating the tamper a full 360° packs the coffee puck tightly in the middle. This process is called Nutation. Even though it takes an expert wrist movement, the flavorsome espresso shots are so worth it!
Leveler vs. Tamper
Among all the coffee distribution devices (We’re surprised that there are too many!), a leveler and a tamper are perhaps the most common. Now, the question is- can you use a leveler instead of a tamper?
But first, let’s see their differences!
- Grooming the Grounds!
The purpose of a coffee leveler is to simply create a flatbed of coffee ground. It includes grooming their uneven surface so that the puck is ready for tamping.
Using a leveler before a tamper makes sure that you get a firm puck. With a bit of practice, you can make the puck hold its shape even when you take it out of the portafilter. Amazing, right?
- Getting that Perfect Puck
Once you get a flat surface of coffee inside the basket, it’s time to tamp ’em! Tamping is basically pushing the coffee grounds further into the basket so that no air remains whatsoever. Even the smallest “channeling” can tamper with the way your coffee tastes.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do you need a tamper for espresso?
An espresso tamper is a flat-bottom tool that baristas use for pressing coffee grounds.When coffee grounds are pressed into a flat puck, the coffee machine can run water through them evenly.
It helps brew full-bodied espresso shots that you can use in multiple coffee drinks. This is why you need a tamper for espresso.
- Are all espresso tampers the same size?
No, all espresso tampers are not of the same size. The size of your espresso tamper depends on what size of filter baskets or coffee pods you’re using. Coffee tampers are available in 50mm, 55mm, and 58mm diameters.
Your portafilter can’t be smaller than the espresso tamper because that way, the tamper cannot reach the coffee grounds inside.
- What happens if you tamp espresso too hard?
If you tamp coffee grounds too hard, you could risk over-extracting them. An over-extracted coffee has a lingering bitter aftertaste, and it might not be the flavor you were going for.
Besides, tamping espresso too hard means you’re using a lot more force than necessary. It can hurt your wrists in the long run. Use no more than 30 pounds of pressure.
- What makes a good coffee tamper?
A good coffee tamper is one that has a flat bottom, a grippy handle, and is sensitive to pressure. Solid iron tampers, or weighty tampers in general, are better because they’re easy on the wrists.
Quality espresso tampers produce a flat puck that is tight not only in the center but also around the edges. We recommend food-safe, BPA-free tampers with a weight-calibrated design.
- Is tamping necessary?
Yes, tamping is necessary because it keeps the puck tightly pressed inside the filter cup. If you have any amount of channeling in the puck, the espresso shot will come out over-extracted.
The point of using an espresso tamper is to let the hot water travel uniformly through the puck. It helps the coffee achieve its body and flavors.
At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that you get a shot of flavorsome espresso. The preparation is all the easier with an espresso tamper, by the way! And we believe our best espresso tampers can help anyone brew yummy coffee drinks all year round. Thanks for reading!