Display Digital Tamper

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.

#1: Post by Mancio76 »

Ciao all,
I'm quite new on the forum.
But I would like to share with you all my night hobby results.
A digital Tamper, fully 3D printed, with electronics force and level monitor.

I'm looking for feedback to improve the device and explore new ideas.

This is a great coffee-passionate forum and I will appreciate your opinions.

Who I am?
Italian, a coffee enthusiast (Lelit Victoria pl91 + Eureka Mignon Specialità CR16 are my daily tools), and an electronic engineer with a passion for 3D printing and mechanics.
These are the ingredients of my recipe and the HOW of the development.
WHY I did do this? Because I'm struggling with the perfect espresso. Fighting every day with a grinder.
But in the espresso coffee process, I was blind during the tamping step. And the idea was to realize a tamper able to reproduce, for every coffee, similar tamping.
And, for me, it works fantastically :D

Let me know your opinions.

Thank you all.

Have a nice view!

Team HB

#2: Post by ira »

It's certainly the most entertaining tamper I can recall seeing. I can't imagine it's better at leveling than any of the myriad leveling tampers one can already buy. If it measured pressure at many points around the base and you could see both level and the pressure variation around the puck, you might discover what it takes for almost perfect puck prep. Without that, you've just made a clever device, but it's unclear to me how or if it advances the art of puck prep. I say that assuming that level without uniform distribution of the coffee is worse than level with uniform distribution of the coffee.

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#3: Post by HB »

Mancio76 wrote:Because I'm struggling with the perfect espresso... I was blind during the tamping step... Let me know your opinions.
I'll say it's original. :)

I'm with Ira, the value of calibrated tamper pressure, in my opinion, is minimal. Whether you tamp at 10 pounds, 20 pounds, or gorilla tamp at 100 pounds, it doesn't really matter. Just be consistent. On the other hand, some baristas have trouble tamping without a cant and so-called "leveling tampers" make that a no-brainer.

The production quality is cringeworthy, but I addressed this question in Newbie Introduction to Espresso - Barista Mechanics. Of the skills difficult to master, tamping is near the bottom of my list. With the proliferation of leveling tools since I made that video 9 years ago (!), they've really made it as close to idiot-proof as one gets.
Dan Kehn

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#4: Post by cafeIKE »

As a retired electronics engineer: WAY, WAY COOL.

As a practical espressionista: WAY OVERKILL. Level and consistent are teachable in about 5 minutes.


#5: Post by Pressino »

I love it! While I agree with the others who said the "automatic" leveling and spring-loaded tampers make it easy for motorically challenged baristas to tamp properly, your gadget, which does look a bit challenging to use at first will actually help train and improve the barista's tamping skills, skills that will transfer to his or her use of the plain old tamping iron...

In other words, this is a great training tool. Buon Lavoro! :D

Mancio76 (original poster)

#6: Post by Mancio76 (original poster) »

Thank you all for your appreciated comments.
Really fantastic to collect feedback from coffee lovers.
My idea is that for the process regarding the perfect espresso, levelling and pressing always in the same way (it's our choice how we level and press, but should be almost the same), helps.
My objective was to have 8gr of coffee, filtered for 20 seconds with water at 95°C, 9 bars to reach 20gr of joy in the coffee cup.
I'm still struggling with grinding but controlling how I tamp, gives me the feedback to improve the espresso way.
And it's really easy. In the video, the camera takes the right position and I was working in an unnatural way :(
My personal experience was to test for one month the digital tamper. Then back to a super-full manual one.
The experience was uncomfortable. No idea about proper levelling and force applied. Finale result was a large spread of outcomes.
Then back to the digital era and the feeling was "I can control" (I know it's not the truth)
For me, the level of force makes the difference in coffee extraction.
A more pressed coffee (the same coffee at the same grinding level) results in a higher extraction time. And bye-bye to the perfect espresso procedure.
Compacting has some effects!

Focusing on other points of the coffee experience, any idea where technology can improve our experience?
Any suggestion?
Grinding it's really challenging for me... I make 4/5 coffees per day and from morning to evening, the process is not under control :(
Any ideas to develop? :)

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Randy G.

#7: Post by Randy G. »

A digital tamper that measured force has been done. It was called the MG Coffeetools Smart-Tamp. I reviewed it 8 years ago. It is no longer available. The value of such a device is easily tested, debated, and possibly discounted if not eliminated. I would offer that consistancy is more important when it comes to tamping force.

Level is more important, certainly, and tampers which accomplish this are easily found. But without addressing distribution, both of the prior lose value regardless as to how accurate they are. My favorite, after testing snd reviewing many tampers, is the one I have been using for a few years which accomplishes all three tasks. TheForce tamper.

I applaud your ability and creativity, but question the usefulness of your device. Level is important but controlling it mechanically is of greater value when it comes to egonomices. Applied force has been shown to be effective in quite a wide range.
* 22nd Anniversary 2000-2022 *

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#8: Post by AssafL »

Love the bullseye image. The offset display. Cool!

I however, do agree that this isn't the place where ROI happens.

The main issue (I think) with espresso is having a perfectly homogenous puck. That is that the density of the dry coffee is uniform throughout the puck.

Easier said than done. For example, the grinder gives particles velocity and might separate higher momentum boulders from lower momentum chaff.

A slide (like in Mazzers) might make boulder slide farther. Causing the puck to saturate one side of the puck first.

The large manufacturers have added agitators that do what they call Normalization of the grinds.

Also, adding flow control helps reduce this somewhat.
Scraping away (slowly) at the tyranny of biases and dogma.


#9: Post by jpender »

As a sometimes electronics hobbyist I think that looks like a cool project.

From a practical level, like Ian I find it not too difficult to keep the tamper level. Passive leveling tampers are easy enough to come by in any case. For the tamping pressure I just try to be consistent. I think I am... maybe I should check? A tamper that told me the force would certainly keep me honest in that regard. But wouldn't a scale provide the same thing without need for a specialized tool?

Another thought: The tamper weight itself is part of the force but it appears that your tamper zeros without including that. Some people just set the tamper on the grounds and call it good.

A further thought: There is some evidence that tamping can be cumulative. That is, if you tamp and then tamp again it makes a difference in the density of the puck versus just the first tamp. So it may be the case that duration of tamp matters as well as maximum pressure.


#10: Post by Pressino »

AssafL wrote:The main issue (I think) with espresso is having a perfectly homogenous puck. That is that the density of the dry coffee is uniform throughout the puck.
I hadn't thought about this before, but your point now makes me wonder if the "best" tamp is the one that maintains the uniformity of coffee density throughout the puck, i.e. with the same density at the top, middle, and bottom of the puck.

If we start with a portafilter containing evenly distributed coffee grounds, then it seems to me that just about all of the current methods of tamping will tend to compress and make the grounds more dense at the top of the puck, where the face of the tamper makes first contact. The Force Tamper, which has been praised for it's somewhat "sudden release" tamp would seem even more likely to cause local upper puck density, but I'm not sure of that.

Anyhow, AssafL's comment suggests to me that the "best" tamp is one that involves starting with evenly distributed coffee (WDT helps greatly there) and the gentlest leveling and tamping with the least pressure and "trauma" to the puck.

If indeed a perfectly homogeneous puck is the ideal. Food for thought?