The Reason Rancilio Includes Plastic Tampers with Machines - Page 5

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#41: Post by luca »

Hehehe ... Jim, funny you should say that; I dug out my LM plastic tamper a few days ago and have been using it since then. Shots (doubles; lowish dose) have been fine. I actually find it relatively comfortable, too. You can't polish with it and it doesn't go all the way to the edge, but that gets you nothing in the cup as far as I can tell. I also thought that I'd have a got at dosing and then tamping without distributing, just for fun. It took a bit of getting used to to get the dose right, seeing as I was using my flat levelling tool for consistency, but that worked out fine, too. Seeing as I was on a role, and seeing as one of the baristas from down the street managed to keep the world latte art title with Australia for the third year in a row, I even pulled out a skewer and did some some etching. It all felt a little silly, but it tasted fine.

Ooh; and the tamper matches black cups pretty nicely ;P

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#42: Post by another_jim »

Thanks, Luca.

The point is that there is an internet coffee theme which says
Italians may have invented espresso, but they sure suck at it now.

The exhibits in this indictment were HX machines, dosers on grinders, wimpy 7 and 14 gram doses, and, yes, plastic tampers.

Well guess what? Every single thing in this litany turns out to be wrong or misconstrued. HX machine humped temperature profiles may be tastier and more workable than dual boiler flat lines. Given current group designs, 7 and 14 gram doses often taste more balanced, and are almost always easier to pull. They do not require meticulous distributing and tamping. Finally, letting lower end coffees with Robusta or dodgy Brazils sit ground in a doser for a half hour can improve their taste.

Espresso in Italy is mass market coffee, and the techniques are attuned to this. Some of these methods may need modification when going to higher quality specialty coffees, but most of them just need to be properly understood. My guess is that while a well crafted tamper is a lovely thing, it is not necessary for pulling good shots.
Jim Schulman


#43: Post by CoffeeOwl »

barry wrote:Schoomie, michael & ralf.

Montoya! (he should have stayed in CART/IndyCar, and the Colombian Coffee Federation should be a sponsor)

Fisichella, Barrichello, Coulthard, Villeneuve, and the rest of the gang.

greg would be cross if i left out: KIMI!
oh please!
I've been crazy with F1 all my life. Once two guys asked me which football team I favor, and I replied 'Senna'.
BTW, it's still 0-0 but I favor Italia :wink:
for the plastic tampers. Well. I was really p$%ed on the Saeco during my (shameful) starting days that there was no tamper, literally. It's another story that it's quite easy to cut plastic in proper diameter, ... and I remember small review of pavoni machine by malachi, and the complaints for the wrong diameter of tamper. :roll:
'a a ha sha sa ma!

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#44: Post by malachi »

Psyd wrote:The plasti-crap tamper is a nod to their American consumers...
The US has only recently become a significant enough market to really impact product design and packaging for espresso machines. And way "back in the day" when I bought a machine in Italy it already had such an item. So, while your statement has a certain amount of "internal logic" I don't believe it fits the facts. I'd suggest that the response from Rancilio is more universal than you let on.

(and while Man U might be the most recognizable and valuable sports franchise in the world - Gunners rule).
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

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#45: Post by malachi »

another_jim wrote:The exhibits in this indictment were HX machines, dosers on grinders, wimpy 7 and 14 gram doses, and, yes, plastic tampers.

Well guess what? Every single thing in this litany turns out to be wrong or misconstrued. HX machine humped temperature profiles may be tastier and more workable than dual boiler flat lines. Given current group designs, 7 and 14 gram doses often taste more balanced, and are almost always easier to pull. They do not require meticulous distributing and tamping. Finally, letting lower end coffees with Robusta or dodgy Brazils sit ground in a doser for a half hour can improve their taste.
Equating the HX machine to "Italy" and dual boiler to "not Italy" is of course misleading as both are in essence "Italian." So saying that people's claim to a superiority of a flat line brew temp indicates that the italians are "right" is clearly false.

Beyond that... it has become clear (to many) that there are coffees that benefit from a intra-shot variable brew temp, and coffees that benefit from a flat line brew temp. As a result - while I think it's entirely reasonable to say that it's ignorant to claim that a flat brew temp profile is universally superior it is equally wrong to claim any sort of superiority for the traditional HX "hump" profile.

I can name a couple dozen coffees that I think taste horrible at light doses (just as I can name numerous ones that taste awful at high doses). There are, however, some patterns in what tastes good at light doses (and corresponding fine grind) - and you can as a result see how people who like a specific taste in their cup might prefer one style of dosing or the other (while in reality liking a type of coffee taste). The finer grind coupled with other attributes of these coffees (pulped naturals, older robustas, low elevation coffees in general) make them more forgiving in many cases when it comes to distribution and tamping. This is far more obvious on a traditional E61 based HX machine than on a stock LM machine (for example) - perhaps in part due to the water debit differences.

These more forgiving coffees - with the specific flavour profiled desired - are often (as you describe them) "robusta or dodgy brazil". And one only has to experience these coffees cupped once to understand why some careful "aging" and oxidization might be desirable. While with great coffees we take great care to try and protect and preserve all the volatiles and aromatics and oils - and grind and prepare as quickly as possible - sometimes it's better for some of the "flavour" to go away (if you know what I mean).

I would suggest that preparing a coffee like, say, the Stumptown Hairbender using a traditional HX machine and dosing 7 grams in a single basket with a fine grind after letting the coffee sit in the hopper for a good time, marginally if at all distributed and "casually" tamped then pulled at a full 1oz will result in a shot none of us would enjoy.

Just as preparing some Lavazza using a Synesso, ground coarse and on-demand, updosed to 20 grams in a double basket, distributed using a modified Stockfleth's then tamped carefully and pulled at 1.5oz will result in a shot that NONE of us would mistake for something we'd be happy with in Italy.

In the first case - we'd probably either say "The Italians are idiots" or "This coffee sucks."
In the latter - we'd probably say "The Italians are geniuses" or "This coffee sucks."

In both cases we'd be wrong.
Instead of looking for Universal Truths we should be looking for Applicable Patterns.
Knowledge - not Rules. That's the goal.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin


#46: Post by Caffewerks »

It's not the size, or material of the tamper that makes a difference it is how you use it.......

There, I just saved Reg the trouble of responding to the thread :D

It seems to me that how the coffee tastes is the only issue at anytime. How you get there can be as independent as how you get to work. Some take the bus, some ride a bike, and some sit all alone in a car stuck on the freeway.

If the little plastic tamper works for you, then that is great. If you like the feel of a quality hand tool, then you should buy one.

Espresso Parts offers so many options, because there is not one infinite decision on how a tamper effects the quality of a shot. I have studied tamping and shot extraction with and without for over 15 years and it is baffling at best.

Flat, Convex, (geez, even Concave) c-flat, Kurved, unkurved, precision, balanced, clicking, novelty, plastic, aluminum, stainless steel, tool steel, chromed tool steel, titanium, logo, no logo, inlaid, custom fit, gold get the idea right? Tampers are as diverse as the shots they produce.

Manufacturers, most likely will leave a basic tamp as part of the machine production. The sales company should make the option available, yet, with all the choices, it is likely that tampers will remain an accessory item, as one size does NOT fit all.

This concludes my monthly post to H-B, now go make coffee by taste, and throw out the theory! :D

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#47: Post by kahvedelisi »

Randy G. wrote:BY FAR, the greatest sales Rancilio enjoys for Silvia is in the US. It would then make sense for them to include a tamper for the US market that is in tune with what that market seems to prefer.. a tamper that is a correct match for the portafilter basket in which it will be used, even if it is based on their "wrong" opinion... DUH! Why don't you call 5 manufacturers of tampers. Tell them you have a stock Rancilio Silvia with the included portafilters and baskets that came with the machine. Tell them that you don't know the real size. Ask them what size you should order.
Hmmm... the prejudices in the rear view mirror are thicker than they appear. Calling 5 manufacturers will cost me a little fortune. But since almost all of them are in your region why don't you call 5 manufacturers of tampers and ask them WHEN they started their business. It will be hard for you to find one in the business over 20 years, but you can easily find 80yo espresso machine manufacturers. God knows what those poor portafilters went through with "improper sized" plastic tampers for 60 years!! One can't believe when one "thinks" over it..
Randy G. wrote:Have you even looked at the stupid plastic thing Rancilio calls a tamper that is included with Silvia?
I don't need to look. I own one. They give the same plastic tamper with Silvia, Epoca, Classe 6, Classe 8, Classe 10. With their swiss egro there's no tamper included, you use your finger.
Randy G. wrote:Have you measured it? Have you used it? It is so undersized that it is not even close. 57mm would be a preferred size since the Italians cannot seem to make portafilter baskets within reasonable tolerance ranges. The baskets vary quite a bit- enough that a 58mm tamper would not fit in quite a good percentage of them.
It's 55mm, that's 1mm more than the protruding plastic tamper attached to cimbali grinders. And yes I used and got several good shots and 1 god shot with it (I'm sure I'd get more if I kept using it). But I had also used perfume bottles, bottom of sherry glasses, a cut in half rolling pin (highly recommended) instead of an actual tamper. Not all of them fit into basket tightly but all give good results if you know how to use.
Randy G. wrote:Now, the Silvia tamper is not only WAY undersized but the bottom is convex. it will tamp the center of the coffee and then push the coffee out and up the sides of the basket because of the large amount of clearance between the tamper and the sides of the basket. Outside of using a square tamper, the Rancilio inclusion is perfect if you enjoy channeling.
Just in case you've never heard of... There's something called AMERICAN CURVE and EURO CURVE. Also their detailed dimensions given in Reg Barber site. I don't believe it's requested by italians in the first place (the title speaks for itself). Besides almost all of you were raving and praising and comparing them to flat ones last summer (related reading). Ah and please people don't come back saying "compared to rancilio's plastic one, a 58mm diameter curved tamper will better tamp the sides of the basket". We all got geometry lessons at high school but I don't get channeling at all.
Randy G. wrote:Beyond that, I believe that Ferraris still come with tires that are of the proper DIAMETER for the rims on which they fit. Too bad Rancilio cannot pick up on that.
Adhominem won't help. Please read again what I had said about Ferrari, pay more attention to how I used Ferrari as an example and try to acknowledge what I implied with that example --> "If you were to buy a ferrari or a porsche or a lamborghini, be assured they won't come with a full tank and/or 4 extra tire"

Meaning --> It doesn't matter how well known the brand and/or respected the product is. It doesn't matter how much money you pay for that product. It doesn't matter if the producers are italian, or german or american, if it's not coming with extras then it's not coming with extras (and those extras which we have to pay for, we call them accessories). Besides, if the producers are not throwing in some higher quality extras, be assured there's a reason for that. In this case you should be hopping around screaming in joy cos thanks to rancilio, cimbali, marzocco, vibiemme, quick mill etc you are already buying these products for much less than the actual price. That Rancilio Silvia of yours, costs €515 to €550 in europe but $595 in USA (last time I checked $-€ difference was 1,56 so do the math yourself). Now don't you think Rancilio and other producers doing enough favors to US market already?
Randy G. wrote:I find your arguments fairly weak.
Really? I'll work on them and hopefully make better.
Randy G. wrote:Let me ask you, then- If my basket has an inside diameter of 58mm, what would be the smallest diameter tamper that would give a proper tamp (without having to tamp in circles over and over to get an even compression throughout the basket? Please base your answers with the fact in mind that this forum is a "guide to exceptional espresso." [look up there ^ ]. I would love to hear the results of your testing.
Hmmm tough question.... okay joking =P But lets make it really tough and say we have no tamper at all. Grind finer, distribute and level and tap your portafilter lightly on your counter 2-3 times, lock your portafilter and pull your shot. For "easy way out" better results use a coin (wash it first) place the coin close to basket side and applying even pressure with your index finger complete a circular move. Not convinced? Do you want some picture guide? Let me know I'll arrange something or you can always open up youtube and watch some dremel movies.
Randy G. wrote:Maybe Reg can chime in here was well. He knows something about tampers from what I hear.
That would be great!! I saw 2 of his tampers, he's really doing a great job. But I can't say I'm a fan of his handles (official rancilio tamper handle is very similar looking to his designs, and I'm not happy with it's handle either), anyways if I were to buy one from him I'd go for the radical pro (not the AMERICAN CURVE piston though =D )
Randy G. wrote:I would think that someone like you who owns an espresso machine that sells in the US for close to $2000USD would have a better idea as to the relationship that tamping has on distribution and quality extraction. Maybe your Rancilio Epoca ST1 came with the pod adaptor and this is all moot for you?
FYI I didn't learn the importance of tamping and distribution from online forums. My first machine came with a tamper attachment on it, and I have the gift of "2+2=4" plus machine's user guideline :D


If I ever want to use a pod adaptor with my ST1, If I ever feel the need for it, please be assured I will get one and use it as efficiently as one can use it along with some pod coffee. I'll do it feeling zero embarrassment and if I ever get good results with it then I'll feel proud. Do I need an approval from an authority?

Today I made a decision of removing my equipment list from my profile, I had thought it's there for easier communication and to create a helping environment among users (ie. similar machine owners may get direct advice from each other without some extra posts asking user's equipment etc). Sadly I realise in some cases it has more negative effect than positive... In the end there's something positive though, today I received a suggestion for a new thread (thanks) Are you influenced by the poster's espresso setup?
Resistance is futile. You will be caffeinated!

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#48: Post by homerepairbear »

I've owned my Silvia for about 10 months now and was a mocha pot owner for 20+ years prior. I do remember when I was doing the research on what machine to purchase that pretty much every rant regarding a Silvia included mention of the plastic tamper. I think anyone who's done a little homework about a Silvia has either read this or been advised by someone, that you will want to look into purchasing a better tamper. I bought an aluminum tamper for cheap to start with while I learned how to pull a decent shot. I did buy a machine with a PID, to aid in the learning curve, another piece of advise garnered from all the reviews and forums. I've since graduated to a convex Espresso Gear model, purchased slightly used, and have enjoyed the better quality and smoother surface. I'm considering an Espro in the near future.
I think Rancilio is justified in providing a plastic tamper. No matter what they provide, every owner is going to want to experiment or upgrade. I questioned the fit of the plastic tamper when I saw it, and used it a couple times, which added further appreciation of even the cheapo aluminum tamper. Just like using a Silvia, time and experience will provide new insight and proficiency, and newer, better, different, and custom tampers, espresso blends, and all the other espresso toys we acquire will always be part of the longterm relationship with our machine and the search for the perfect shot.