Tamping Technique - whether to tap? and where?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.

Do you tap the portafilter with the tamper?

Other (explain)
Total votes: 139


#1: Post by grasshopper »

I have a question: i've been using a reg barber for some time. But, I've always been confused as to whether I should tap the pf to knock the grinds off of the side of the basket after tamping before a second tamp and polish. If I should tap, do I tap using the wooden handle, or the plastic inlay? So far, I've tapped using the wood, but the drawback is that the tamper gets nicked over time. I'm worried that if I switch to tapping using the plastic inlay it will eventually loosen and fall out.

Any suggestions?

Mike :?

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Team HB

#2: Post by RapidCoffee »

grasshopper wrote:I've always been confused as to whether I should tap the pf to knock the grinds off of the side of the basket after tamping before a second tamp and polish.
I've never been able to understand the virtues of tapping. If coffee grounds on the sides of the filter basket bother you, brush them lightly with your fingertip to loosen, and then briefly invert the PF to discard. Or ignore them - they should not have any negative impact on your shot.

Tapping OTOH can disrupt the integrity of the puck. If you're tapping hard enough to knick the wooden handle or loosen a plastic insert on your tamper, I'd guess that you're tapping hard enough to channel your puck by breaking the adhesion to the filter basket. If you must tap, tap lightly! But try not tapping at all. You might find your shots improve.

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#3: Post by rjkramek »

I use to tamp, then tap with the side of the tamper base (and then in some cases tip the basket over to get rid of the dislodged grounds), and then do a finish tamp. It wasn't until I created a naked PF that I noticed that I occasionally was getting side channeling and blond gushers. So I too think this potentially disrupts the integrity of the puck depending on how hard you tap.

Now I do an initial tamp and then a lighter NSEW tamp that scraps down the sides of the basket and then a finish polish. I never have any side channeling problems and the rare time I have a blond gusher it's from overfilling the basket (and hitting the puck against the dispersion screen).

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#4: Post by cannonfodder »

I tap with the side of the tamper base against the portafilter locking lugs, lightly. No real reason, that is just how I learned so that is what I do.
Dave Stephens


#5: Post by cappadoc »

I gently tap the basket on the counter to loosen the grounds on the sides then do a finish tamp and polish.


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#6: Post by jrtatl »

I don't tap with the tamper. I do tap BEFORE tamping, to settle the grounds. First I distribute the grounds and level-off. Then I gently tap the basket straight down on the counter to settle the grounds. Then I tamp with no further tapping.

Works for me anyway.


#7: Post by Maskedman »

I do an initial light tamp followed by a little tap, just to loosen grinds stuck on the side of the filterbasket. And then finish of with the real power tamp ;)

But I guess the tap could loosen the puck and lead to channeling?

Oh, and I tap with the top of the handle on my Ergopacker :D

- Ride it like you stole it!

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Team HB

#8: Post by cannonfodder »

Espresso Distribution & Tamp "Nutating Motion"
«missing video»

From the Tamp and Dose Techniques Digest thread.
Dave Stephens

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#9: Post by HB »

I've noticed that most barista competitors tap the portafilter. Some use the end of the tamper, and some the side of the piston. I remember Ryan Goodman of Murky Coffee touches the portafilter with a glancing blow of the tamper piston, producing the "ting-g-g" sound like an orchestra triangle. Very Zen.

Always the inquisitive one, I've asked pros and trainers why they tap. "The loose grinds float around and impart a burnt, ashy taste because they heat faster than the grinds adhering to the puck," one certified WBC judge offered. Hmm-m. "It keeps the grouphead cleaner," one USBC champion suggested.

(Me, I'm a no-tap, four-corner Staub tamp barista.)
Dan Kehn

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Compass Coffee

#10: Post by Compass Coffee »

I voted "other". I do lightly tap from the side to slightly settle grounds after filing. then Stockfleths, light level tamp, then couple light vertical downward taps of the PF against counter to knock down any strays, followed by med nutating tamp, final firm level tamp, very light pressure polish.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)