Saint Anthonys Levy Precision Tamper worth it?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.

#1: Post by matthewh133 »

I just ordered a Normcore spring-loaded tamper for $50, but I recently came across the Saint Anthonys Industries Levy Precision Tamper. Does anyone have experience with both and can give some first-hand comments? Happy to spend the extra money for the SAI Levy if it's actually better, but probably wouldn't bother just for aesthetics.

My issues with my current tamper (the one that came with my Mara x) is multi-faceted. Firstly, consistency is hard to achieve. Secondly, it seems to leave behind some grinds on top of the puck after pulling away. Not sure if that's a technique issue or something with the tamper. Thirdly, it doesn't seem to fit snug in my 18g IMS Precision Nanotech basket.

Two items in question: ... upgrate-v4 ... ion-tamper


#2: Post by DamianWarS replying to matthewh133 »

The normcore one is a nice tamper. Self leveling and 58.5mm (so it should fit snug) and in a tamper those are the features you want. Normcore sells a palm tamper too (cheaper on amazon) if you happen to like that style. I don't see what advantage you would get with the Saint Anthonys one unless you really like the aesthetics but the normcore one should be an excellent tamper.

I'm not sure what your tamper is like but if it has some sort of pattern on the surface or is marked up that may be a cause why grinds on sticking to it. Also make sure everything the basket and tamper are dry, anything wet won't be good. A leveling tamper will be very consistent so you won't have to worry if it's level or not but tamping is the final stage of puck prep and you should be doing something else to distribute the coffee. WDT is one of the most effective ways to distribute coffee and you can get them cheap. Normcore has a nice one to just a bit more money.

I would say a leveling tamper (like the normcore one you linked to) and WDT are highly effective and I would recommend any one into espresso to use them.

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#3: Post by Jeff »

Grinds stick to tamper faces depending on the roast level, fineness, local humidity, and probably a dozen other things including if you're wearing wool or synthetics. I prep on a folded washcloth and wiping the tamper face is part of my habit.

In terms of performance in the cup, in the hand of an experienced user, pours from a slightly dented, "58" from probably 20 years ago are likely every bit as good in a blind test to any expensive tamper. Square-to-basket tampers require less careful attention during the tamp, but do nothing to level the grinds before the tamp. An uneven bed looks pretty afterwards, but you've got uneven density under that pretty surface.


#4: Post by emradguy replying to Jeff »

I completely agree with this and I also wipe my tamper face on a dry towel right before using it. I would like to emphasize Jeff's point that leveling tampers do NOT correct uneven distribution. You need an evenly distributed level basket of grounds before you tamp.

I have experience with the SAI Levy. It's fantastic, once you dial in your coffee, and don't change the dose or grind setting after you set it's depth. However, if you switch coffees frequently, I would say, it's not for you.

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#5: Post by Nunas »

matthewh133 wrote:<snip>Secondly, it seems to leave behind some grinds on top of the puck after pulling away. Not sure if that's a technique issue or something with the tamper. Thirdly, it doesn't seem to fit snug in my 18g IMS Precision Nanotech basket.<snip>
Virtually all tampers do this. The looser the fit of the tamper in the basket, which you mention is your case, the more this happens. When you pull the tamper out of the basket, a slight vacuum is produced, which pulls in stray (untamped) grinds from around the edge, and even from the top rim of the basket. For this reason, I always do a second tamp to incorporate them into the puck. These don't really affect the cup, though; it's just a case of not being visually pleasing.


#6: Post by Plinyyounger »

I have a St Anthony's palm tamper it's beautiful with its walnut finish, it's heavy which I like and the design is also beautiful. But I don't use it anymore. I do take it out every now and then but I always put it back in the drawer.

I still use the st Antony's leveler though, it is fantastic and it helps pull great shots.

The type of tamper I prefer now are the Decent leveling style that have a lip to engage the top of the basket. In my experience it is much easier to tamp easily and properly with this type. Unfortunately the St Andrew's slides all the way into the basket and the shoulder stops it from progressing further. I was having to unscrew and extend the tamper depth to make sure it tamped firm enough. Not sure if this makes sense the way I'm describing it. I'd also have to readjust the depth depending on the dose, basket and coffee I was using.

I much prefer the Decent style, to me it's full proof. But I'd try my St Anthony's again if someone can give me a better way to use it. Setting the depth to max is the only fix I see and I don't think I can be as consistent doing so.
Big 98mm flat grinder, been there done that, sold it. I’m happy now.


#7: Post by emradguy »

I'll answer this here, because it might help the OP in making his decision.

The SAI Levy needs to be adjusted such that it shoulders on the top of the basket and pf, at the same time as the puck becomes fully compressed. This simultaneously allows you to get a consistently compressed tamp, and take advantage of the SAI leveling feature. There are several ways to accomplish this adjustment, but the more important thing is that you'll be using the same coffee, at the same dose, ground at the same setting for some period of time that won't make it a pita to recalibrate the tamper adjustment the next time you need to. For example, you're going to buy a 4 or 5 pound bag, dial it in, then use it all up. Then, next bag, dial in again, set the SAI depth, pull shots until you move to another coffee.

As for how to adjust the Levy, you need to be able to dial in your coffee to dose weight and grind, then once you get it there, adjust your levy for depth. It's kind of trial and error, easiest if you have it set so the tamping component runs too deep, then back it off little bits at a time, until you set it back down and it seats on the basket edge. The smaller your increments between adjustments, the most likely you'll get it exactly right. Once you're happy with its depth, lock it in and you're good to go.

Now, of course, you can still drink other coffees. You'll either need another tamper, or a dose and grind setting that fills the basket the same as or higher as the one you've just calibrated. If it under fills the basket, your leveling feature will engage and prevent you from getting an adequate compression.