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Author Topic: Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)  (Read 25979 times)

caspresso

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #25 on: 19/04/2009, 11:14 AM »
Its not that I think its a problem. 1/2g variables aren't gonna blow up the coffee machine. Its the precision of it that I question. Especially because there are so many high level baristi that say its consistant, but the process cant be precise, there is simply too much potential for inconsistency.
Where do these ideas get tested, and is there any indisputeable evidence for its effectabililty.
1/2g variables are not a reasonable variation in the sense of consistency though. Because that is simply not consistant. And 1/2g variables have been explained away as ok to me in the past.....WHAT???

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #26 on: 19/04/2009, 11:16 AM »
Quote
d You dose - tap - dose - tap - disrtibute - srape - tamp - tamp - clean - extract.

Written like that it does sound like a lot of  work, however in practice a lot of the work is done while the grinder is grinding.  The rest is completed in under 1second.

And I  totally agree with your comment "Good theory does not a good method make", especially when translating that to the cafe setting.  At the end of the day, there our countless  different dosing and tamping methods.  I think it's great for a thread like this to pop up which offers a few conflicting points of view, so as that someone reading and wanting to learn more has the opportunity try the different methods and do what works best for them.

caspresso

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #27 on: 19/04/2009, 11:19 AM »
Definately. I'm learning heaps about peoples ideas, its great

ohbillygreat

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #28 on: 19/04/2009, 08:20 PM »
I only collapse once, at the end of dosing. I think that people who read Scottie Callaghan's article a while ago somewhere followed his methods of dosing halfway, collapsing, then dosing to the top and collapsing, but personally I've found this just invites trouble unless you're at an incredibly similar level every time when you're 'halfway'.

caspresso

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #29 on: 19/04/2009, 10:47 PM »
And here you have struck upon my point. You cannot dose correctly using the method stated by Scottie Callaghan. I still don't agree with any tapping. but at least doing it at the end you may have a little hope at consistency. I think, as I've said in the "grind and dose consistency" topic. Using methods such as stockfleths or the like, really require dose consistency to be efficacious. And a method which employs variables is not consistent.

flushed

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #30 on: 01/05/2009, 12:53 AM »
no-one can get halfway, then collapse every time, exactly the same. close I'm sure but not the same. I challenge everyone to measure their dosing

psaigh

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #31 on: 02/05/2009, 03:00 AM »
been there done that...  Using a constistant method of collapsing (some number of taps, similar pressure within taps) is significantly more consistant than not collapsing.

Trust me, there's a reason why every single competitor who made it to the finals of the ABC while not using a timed grinder, uses some sort of collapsing technique.  It's not just for show  ;)

flushed

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #32 on: 04/05/2009, 08:41 PM »
In the end if it works it works. I think there really needs to be a movement toward timed/weighted grind on demand grinders (which I think there is). Maybe there is a bit of basic skill lost using this ideal. But in a professional environment. these really are the better choice for speed consistency. And a lot less loud and physically demanding. But we really are talking about the high end of the coffee arena when we get into this area. And thats the reality of the topics I have started. Not the perfect cup, but the best, fastest, most consistent coffee making. perfection happens beautifully when given the time to do it. But if 1 barista is making 4 - 6 kilos a day. there generally isn't time for all the lovely tricks. but I totally disagree with the collapsing is more consistent, it may be the same/ish, but not more.
I so would love to have a coffee gathering that had nothing to do with competition, experimenting different styles and working out why which is better.

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #33 on: 04/05/2009, 09:52 PM »
I agree barista jams are great fun and a way to canvas and share knowledge as well as a chance to hang out with other coffee 'geeks'

Although I disagree about not being able to accurately collapse and manual dose for high volume - my cafe at melb uni makes 800 plus coffees per day to pretty good consistency (3 beans in melbourne coffee review) and we employ this technique, although admittedly we have two baristi on the machine at any one time and often another 'prepping'

Once my new joint in Westgarth is up and running I'll be happy to host barista jam's for all and sundry - anyone with a passion for espresso is welcome!

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #34 on: 03/12/2011, 07:52 AM »
I know this is resurrecting an old thread and I hesitated before doing so, mostly because I disagree with almost every aspect of capresso's recommended technique.

I do collapse. I do not bash the portafilter. I do not polish.

Suffice to say I believe you can get a consistent enough technique with collapsing and levelling and I'm pretty happy with that part of my process.

But it's that last one I want to chat about today.

Since starting my coffee journey earlier this year, I've experimented with a number of different tamping styles. Early on my wife had some advice from a barista we appreciate and respect that we shouldn't tamp too hard and that we should polish.

Since that time I've experimented with various tamping strengths and found that for me at least a firm (not gorilla) tamp gets the job done.

However I've been having some issues lately which are at least partly attributable to my OPV being set too high, but also partly due to that little twist.

JamesM over on 'that other place' mentioned recently that he'd abandoned polishing as he believed that it actually disrupted the puck and caused channeling. As part of my ongoing coffee evolution I've been experimenting with this recommendation.

And it's worked wonders. I've been enjoying my doppio ristrettos like never before. I'm getting vastly less (but still some*) channeling and a much better result in the cup.

I'm really looking forward to having my OPV nudged a little to see how much difference this makes.

Has anyone else experienced this?


*JamesM also (oddly) pooh-pooh's the idea of precision fitted tampers/baskets. As I have a terribly-fitted tamper, I have problems getting a level tamp and all my channeling occurs around the edges, so I don't agree. Although a Pullman and matching Synesso is greatly desired, it's way down the list of things that I can justify the purchase of to the finance minister!
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Koffee Kosmo

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #35 on: 03/12/2011, 11:48 PM »
OK let me get a few things straight

A well fitted tamper will spin and probably wont disturb the edge
A convex tamper base will spin and polish better that a flat pamper

If the tamper is not a well fitting type I agree that spinning is unwise
Having said that, my routine is to swivel the tamper in a sort of canter-lever / flower pattern prior to pressing down
This little swivel pushes down the edges of the puck
Works a treat

KK
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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #36 on: 04/12/2011, 01:14 PM »
agreed, a well fitting tamper, especially one with a rubber ring component to the base (IMHO) glides easily into the basket providing a very even and polished surface to the coffee, without actually needing to polish the surface as such

in a busy cafe environment polishing just adds one more (unnecessary in my opinion) aspect to your routine that can afford to be dropped

in my last cafe at Melbourne Uni we would make up to 1000 coffees a day and I developed a ganglia the size of a golf ball on my left wrist mostly I think from dialling the steam wand, and from knocking out the puck - but after successfully treating it with acupuncture I determined to modify my routine to get the best possible result with the least possible effort

needless to say no more polishing, no collapsing the dose with a tamper (I use the forks on the grinder instead) - and changing the dial on the steam wand to a lever all greatly helped to reduce stress on the body and to still be able to produce an amazing coffee!
"The crema which dissipates is not the lasting crema..."

JamesM

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #37 on: 04/12/2011, 10:02 PM »
JamesM over on 'that other place' mentioned recently that he'd abandoned polishing as he believed that it actually disrupted the puck and caused channeling. As part of my ongoing coffee evolution I've been experimenting with this recommendation.

And it's worked wonders. I've been enjoying my doppio ristrettos like never before. I'm getting vastly less (but still some*) channeling and a much better result in the cup.

*JamesM also (oddly) pooh-pooh's the idea of precision fitted tampers/baskets. As I have a terribly-fitted tamper, I have problems getting a level tamp and all my channeling occurs around the edges, so I don't agree. Although a Pullman and matching Synesso is greatly desired, it's way down the list of things that I can justify the purchase of to the finance minister!

Hi! Phew, I made it. How old is this thread? I have been experimenting with not polishing my grinds after tamping. Honestly, I think if you polish gently (no pressure) you are good to go, but if you polish with ANY pressure, you are basically screwing around with your nicely tamped grinds, possibly introducing issues. I've basically stopped 'polishing' all together, I am certainly not getting 'worse' results in the cup by avoiding it.. generally reducing channeling to some degree (from my own experiments)

I read an excellent thread on the home barista forum called "tamping twaddle", which goes in depth (including part #2) in to tamping with precision tampers, vs NOT. I'm convinced that a precision tamper isn't required to get good results. I do however believe that a precision fit tamper will assist you with getting a 'more' level tamp on your grinds compared to one that has a little slack. A precision tamper CAN cause a vacuum when swiftly removing your tamper from the grinds after tamping, pulling the puck away, you need to be quick to see it, sometimes it's minimal, but never the less, it's ruining your tamped grinds.

For me, it's about results in the cup. Some people polish, twist, knock, tap, swipe, do a little dance, grunt, whatever. Just make good coffee! :)
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Brett H

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #38 on: 04/12/2011, 11:39 PM »
Hi! Phew, I made it. How old is this thread? I have been experimenting with not polishing my grinds after tamping. Honestly, I think if you polish gently (no pressure) you are good to go, but if you polish with ANY pressure, you are basically screwing around with your nicely tamped grinds, possibly introducing issues. I've basically stopped 'polishing' all together, I am certainly not getting 'worse' results in the cup by avoiding it.. generally reducing channeling to some degree (from my own experiments)

I read an excellent thread on the home barista forum called "tamping twaddle", which goes in depth (including part #2) in to tamping with precision tampers, vs NOT. I'm convinced that a precision tamper isn't required to get good results. I do however believe that a precision fit tamper will assist you with getting a 'more' level tamp on your grinds compared to one that has a little slack. A precision tamper CAN cause a vacuum when swiftly removing your tamper from the grinds after tamping, pulling the puck away, you need to be quick to see it, sometimes it's minimal, but never the less, it's ruining your tamped grinds.

For me, it's about results in the cup. Some people polish, twist, knock, tap, swipe, do a little dance, grunt, whatever. Just make good coffee! :)

Welcome James. Nice first post. I will admit to tapping once to compact, once on the side with the tamper to redistribute the fines off the wall and polishing with a wrist-flick flourish.  I know I can get as good a result with my thumbs and have demonstrated this to amazed (bored senseless and sorry they asked) guests, but I really do enjoy the dance.  Sure I'm not as balletic as AM, in fact I'm right up there with Mr Bean and drunken chimps; but it is almost ceremonial for me.  I think like any technique there will always be a better way somewhere out there but after a certain level of competence technical consistency is what really counts. If I were making 350 shots a day the dance would break me but for my average of 2-4 shots I continue to enjoy the ballet.

Welcome!
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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #39 on: 04/12/2011, 11:51 PM »
I like the short videos of Gwylim Davies on Youtube.

He says too many people fuss over this or over that, just do it well, keep it clean and consistent, and always taste the coffee.

I use the same technique he shows at work and at home, though i don't do that polishing touch, and reflects in a great cup every time.  ;)

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #40 on: 05/12/2011, 12:44 AM »
Having said that, my routine is to swivel the tamper in a sort of canter-lever / flower pattern prior to pressing down
This little swivel pushes down the edges of the puck
Works a treat
KK
Evening KK,
You seem to be describing the rarely mentioned nutating tamp discussed here http://www.home-barista.com/tips/nutation-how-to-do-it-right-t12625.html I've tried it in the past but found it a little imprecise, gave me too much variation in my shots.
Cheers,

Dry Bean.

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #41 on: 05/12/2011, 09:11 AM »
JamesM - nice to see you over here! I've followed your Giotto rebuild with interest, looked like a great project.

Thanks for weighing in - hope you don't feel I was taking a shot at you over the precision tamper thing. FWIW I agree that it's not vital to getting a good shot, but I sure reckon it helps! I got a chance to play with some very nice tampers at the QLD social over the weekend. It was like night and day.

Thanks Gary, I'll check that out.

Brett, I did note your technique when we were around last - I'm not certain I agree with a compacting tamp or the portafilter bash (ok, tap!) ;) but since the best coffee I've ever had was at your place I'm re-evaluating that 'stance' (it's too  insecure to be a 'stand'. Even 'stance' is too strong a term. Hence the apostrophe's)!
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coffeehorse

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #42 on: 05/12/2011, 01:07 PM »
My 'tamping queen' is Hazel de los Reyes, and I've been fortunate enough to have a fair bit of machine time with her over the last 5 years or so. Not enough to be anywhere near her level, but enough to know they do a few things considered 'wrong' by some. Having said that, the biggest compliment I've had in my coffee-drinking life (at least, regarding coffee) is either when Hazel asked me to hop on the machine @ Coffee Alchemy or when she told me I had good technique.

So I learnt:

  • Collapse in the middle only if it suits the coffee you're using
  • Hazel doesn't mind a small 'polishing tamp' - not a spin but a gentle twist of the tamper through about 20-30
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« Reply #43 on: 05/12/2011, 05:36 PM »
Evening KK,
You seem to be describing the rarely mentioned nutating tamp discussed here http://www.home-barista.com/tips/nutation-how-to-do-it-right-t12625.html I've tried it in the past but found it a little imprecise, gave me too much variation in my shots.

My feelings exactly DB.  The huge hunk of stainless that is my Pullman Tamper doesn't easily suit this technique anyhow!


JamesM - nice to see you over here! I've followed your Giotto rebuild with interest, looked like a great project.

Thanks for weighing in - hope you don't feel I was taking a shot at you over the precision tamper thing. FWIW I agree that it's not vital to getting a good shot, but I sure reckon it helps! I got a chance to play with some very nice tampers at the QLD social over the weekend. It was like night and day.

Thanks Gary, I'll check that out.

Brett, I did note your technique when we were around last - I'm not certain I agree with a compacting tamp or the portafilter bash (ok, tap!) ;) but since the best coffee I've ever had was at your place I'm re-evaluating that 'stance' (it's too  insecure to be a 'stand'. Even 'stance' is too strong a term. Hence the apostrophe's)!

BLUSH!!! When you're next over we'll have to drink tea because I'll never live up to that a second time.  :D

Some of these old threads when rejuvenated are absolute gems!
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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #44 on: 15/07/2012, 01:47 PM »
Quote
Having said that, my routine is to swivel the tamper in a sort of canter-lever / flower pattern prior to pressing down
This little swivel pushes down the edges of the puck
Works a treat

KK


thanks for the tip KK  Than and carefully watching the dose has made big improvements

Cheers!

C-man
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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #45 on: 16/07/2012, 10:13 AM »
Here's a slightly modified blast from the past, it's over 18 months since I posted this and FWIW my opinions are still pretty much the same.

"You know I get a little pissed off with self proclaimed experts and retailers trying to tout their products telling me (and anyone else gullible enough to listen) that if I don
Cheers,

Dry Bean.

Old age and treachery always overcomes youth and skill. (Willie Nelson)

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #46 on: 16/07/2012, 11:17 AM »
I was demo'ing my previous machine (a VBM Piccolo) to a prospective buyer and thought I should use the bog-standard plastic tamper that came with the machine . It turned out to be one of the best shots I ever poured. He bought the machine.

So is the tamp the least important part of the equation?

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #47 on: 16/07/2012, 11:44 AM »
So is the tamp the least important part of the equation?
I wouldn't say tamping is the least important part of the process, it's simply another link in the chain, each link is dependant on the previous step being carried out reasonably well to finish up with something like what we are aiming for. :)
Cheers,

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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #48 on: 16/07/2012, 04:51 PM »
It's funny this has come up again today, for me at least.

Today I've pulled multiple almost-choke shots that have resulted in fairly wonderful, if incredibly short, 10ml ristrettos from a double dose over about 40 secs.

I've coarsened the grind once and then twice and am still getting the same result - off the same beans that until yesterday were requiring a super-fine grind just to get a decently timed double espresso out off.

And then it hit me.

It's a nice day today - first day without rain or humidity in a while.

It's incredible the difference that that can make.....

Which makes me wonder about the viability of coffee reps who provide machine & grinder to cafes and come in on a regular basis to adjust the grinder - which is left set that way until the next visit....
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Tamping - A gentle guide (kind of)
« Reply #49 on: 16/07/2012, 07:36 PM »
Thanks again to AM for repairing my Concept Art Hydraulic tamper - way back when - its still going better that ever!

At my work I use three of four tampers on high rotation to avoid RSI - but I keep coming back to the hydraulic one as the pressure is even and consistent, and the puck just seems to be packed that little bit tighter - with less effort - than would perhaps otherwise be the case, leading to a tighter extraction

I almost always use the hydraulic tamper for short or long coffees to pack that extra punch and it seems to work a treat

Now to mess with your mind:

I wonder how many of you wipe out your baskets with a completely dry tea towel (or similar) as opposed to a slightly damp chux multi-cloth (or similar) - I for one have been noticing a darker and more dense extraction with the slightly damp cloth - my hypothesis for this is that it lines the basket with a fine film of moisture, 'trapping' the grinds and leading to a finer extraction. 

Or perhaps it just liberates a little heat from the sides of the basket providing a 'sticky' surface for the coffee that comes into contact with it - again leading to a tighter extraction

Thoughts anyone?

P
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