How much do you have to spend on basket/tamper?

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#1: Post by 1rider »

I recently spend $3K on a new machine, bottomless portafilter and a tamper all made by the same manufacturer. I stuck with the same brand thinking the $110.00 tamper would fit properly in the basket by the same manufacturer. Nope, I was wrong.
I've been around enough to know the tamper that comes included with the machine was not going to cut it. So, I pulled the trigger and added the additional tamper to the cart which I now regret.

This sounds like a complaint and I suppose it is for the most part, so forgive me for that. It would seem I need to spend more money still on a basket/tamper combination to get some precision. I'll spend some time this long weekend searching here for good information on this subject.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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#2: Post by Jeff »

I've pulled great shots with a $5-ish "Faema-style", stamped basket and a decades-old "58" tamper, especially with classic espresso-style blends and roasts.

I can't recommend VST or other fast-flowing baskets to those without both a lot of experience and pulling shots from coffees that benefit from them. The EPNW HQ 14 (doses like an 18) impressed me as a forgiving, well-made basket at under $10.

Most "high-end" tampers are, in my opinion, more bling than anything else. A square-to-basket tamper can help if you haven't developed the skills to tamp level. They're also invaluable for those with limited dexterity.

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BaristaBoy E61

#3: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

I prefer and enjoy using well-made ergonomic tools such as the Rancilio naked portafilter and the Mahlgut palm dozer and palm tamper. I also feel that I've had very good results with the VST 18g basket.

At the same time, I also agree with much of Jeff's analysis.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"


#4: Post by makspyat »

IMHO tamper is the most personalized part of the workflow. In addition to the diameter and leveling, there is also weight (is it comfortable?), the shape of handle, how it looks, etc. You either like it, or keep searching. I also made several mistakes, until found something good.

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#5: Post by Jeff »

I definitely agree. A tamper that is comfortable, that lets your fingertips effortlessly feel the rim of the basket as you tamp, makes a big difference.

My intent was that you don't have to spend a lot to achieve that and that blindly spending more isn't always associated with getting something that is better for your own hand.

1rider (original poster)

#6: Post by 1rider (original poster) »

Thanks everyone for the thoughtful replies. As someone mentioned I don't want to blindly spend more money on something like this, but at the same time I would like something that fits better. I can get a serviceable tamp out of what I have already with some effort by doing several added pushes targeting the outside of the basket where the tamp comes up short.
I should add that I am the coffee enthusiast in the house, others have really started to enjoy brewing as well so the tamper is serving more than one person. My wife's hands are half the size of mine so in the end we may wind up with a collection of tampers.

Or maybe we just keep working with what we have until consistency comes through practice.

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#7: Post by Ypuh »

I bought the Bravo tamper a couple of months ago, and now that I think of it, I really love it. It makes tamping effortless and precise. Just put the tamper on your basket, bottom it out and you're done.

Aesthetically it is built as a tank to spec. I like items that are built by small manufacturers (if I remember correctly Gilberto is a HB-member and Bravo a run-out-of-hand hobby). So yes, a tamper is a personal item, specs do matter to some extend, but recommended is to find one that suits both your taste and workflow.
I don't want a Decent

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#8: Post by cafeIKE »

1rider wrote:I would like something that fits better.
Be wary. A snug fit may fit no other basket. If the tamper is with 1mm of the nominal basket diameter it is fine. Face shapes come in to play in a small subset of basket / dose / screen combination. Once could brew espresso for an entire lifetime with a generic 57mm in a 58mm basket using a classic espresso roast and dose.

IMO, people obsess too much over bling hardware. And the number one mistake noobees make is how to align the tamper with the basket. You don't hold it like stick shift, but by having the handle ball in the palm and fingers and thumb around the base so as to align exactly with the basket.


#9: Post by CSME9 »

Short handle RB style 58mm I've had for years with OEM shower screen has worked well. Recently upgraded to the caffewerks shower screen and have noticed slight water/shot distribution improvement. Nothing fancy, grind, level, tamp, pull and enjoy.

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#10: Post by espressotime »

I used a pepper container for a year once. It fitted the 49 mm basket perfectly. Worked great. So 2$ should be enough.