Tamp pressure doesn't matter. Or does it?

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GrindFiner
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Postby GrindFiner » Apr 04, 2018, 12:36 am

I've read a lot of things that say tamp pressure doesn't matter, particularly compared to the amount of pressure exerted by the espresso machine when pulling a shot. That makes sense.

What doesn't make sense to me is why I'm able to grind to a certain fineness, and then have the tamp pressure make the difference between clogging the machine or pulling a nice shot. If the pressure is that minimal compared to the shot pressure, how could it cause that big of a swing?

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AssafL
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Postby AssafL » Apr 04, 2018, 5:21 am

IMHO (and it is only an opinion) tamp pressure matters if (and only if - another opinion) you have a problem with grinding, distribution, grooming and/or PI.

For a perfect puck tamping pressure should have minimal influence.

These are based on observation. Not on a theory or hypothesis.
Caution! Water, heat, pressure and electricity don't mix! I want an espresso.

Stinsonddog
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Postby Stinsonddog » replying to AssafL » Apr 04, 2018, 7:20 am

I agree with this except I will add having a level tamp makes things much easier as well and is more important than the pressure. I will add to the list above dosage as well. We just got a Levatamp from Kafatek and it seems to work quite well. Haven't had one spurting shot. I don't press very hard compared to long ago.
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BaristaBob
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Postby BaristaBob » Apr 04, 2018, 8:09 am

Stinsonddog wrote:I agree with this except I will add having a level tamp makes things much easier as well and is more important that the pressure. I will add to the list above dosage as well. We just got a Levatamp from Kafatek and it seems to work quite well. Haven't had one spurting shot. I don't press very hard compared to long ago.


And In my opinion (hoping it's humble), all that has been previously said add up to your puck (and mine...not pointing fingers at anyone in particular) not being "perfect". This means your mass of grinds in that pf is full of non uniformity...full of air pockets, at the very least. Tamping is just another means to control one more variable in the puck formation process. I think the quotes about "no tamping necessary" I actually think this was initially meant as tamp, but pressure is not as critical as we thought years ago. A level ramp is now more critical for a great cup. So, in my mind, tamping is important, no so much the pressure but make it level every time.
Hope that helps.
Bob "hello darkness my old friend..."

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Peppersass
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Postby Peppersass » Apr 05, 2018, 1:15 am

I don't use my tamper anymore.

On suggestion from a well-known distributor of espresso machines, I adjusted my grooming tool (a BT Wedge) to about the depth of the tamper (a Lev-Tamp) and just use the Wedge. Actually, I wasn't able to quite match the tamper depth, but it didn't seem to matter. There was no change in the flow rate and my pours look as good or better than they did with the grooming tool and tamper. I was surprised. One less step, one less thing to clean.
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Bret
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Postby Bret » Apr 05, 2018, 1:36 am

The things I have read about tamp pressure not mattering were in the context that tamp pressure consistency does matter, specific tamp pressure (e.g. 30lbs) does not. Controlling the variable does matter, leaving it to vary from shot to shot is not good.

My preferred method of achieving tamp pressure consistency is simply to tamp to full compression. I can repeat that. Trying to repeat a 'light tamp" is too prone to variation in my experience. ymmv.

I do agree that my shots improved in a huge way once I got them consistently level (I use a Lev Tamp, love it). I've toyed with the idea of using the grooming tool alone. I tried it once and it seems plausible. I like the feel of using the lev tamp, and the feel it provides of the actual tamping. The groomer takes away the 'road feel' in a way that troubles me. But I could see getting over it. And in a cafe I could easily see the huge advantage of the leveling groomer approach.

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aecletec
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Postby aecletec » Apr 05, 2018, 2:01 am

If there is no difference in flow rate between tamp pressure in these tests, why would consistency matter?

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AssafL
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Postby AssafL » Apr 05, 2018, 6:25 am

Consistency in keeping the tamper perfectly horizontal to the puck? That matters a lot.

Consistency on pressure does not seem to matter much. Obviously within reason (like Dick I use a wedge and alternate tamping and no tamping - zilch difference in timing and pour; even though the tamper does move down a mm or so after the wedge; which was kind of surprising to me that it made little difference).

It has been a long time since I made an effort to get to 30# so I have no idea if "extreme" tamping to 10# or 30# or 70# (with a Puq) makes a difference.

Last point is that temp pressure may make a difference if PI was insufficient.
Caution! Water, heat, pressure and electricity don't mix! I want an espresso.

BaristaBob
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Postby BaristaBob » Apr 05, 2018, 7:16 am

Peppersass wrote:I don't use my tamper anymore.

On suggestion from a well-known distributor of espresso machines, I adjusted my grooming tool (a BT Wedge) to about the depth of the tamper (a Lev-Tamp) and just use the Wedge. Actually, I wasn't able to quite match the tamper depth, but it didn't seem to matter. There was no change in the flow rate and my pours look as good or better than they did with the grooming tool and tamper. I was surprised. One less step, one less thing to clean.


I've played around with this approach before, but it never seems to work well in my case. Do you stick to using the same coffee for long periods of time? I'm a flavor changer, so I rotate three coffees in the course of a day...and many times they rise or fall in my pf differently. Therefore using the distribution tool (mine is similar to yours...Pullman Chisel) places a different amount of pressure on my pucks and causes some nasty flows at times. For me that final compaction with the tamper of 1-2mm is all I need to finish off a good looking flow from the pf. BTW...though tamping pressure may not be important consistency is, so I use a Decent Tamper which is spring loaded.
Bob "hello darkness my old friend..."

BaristaBob
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Postby BaristaBob » Apr 05, 2018, 8:00 am

Dick, I really do like the thought of not using a tamper...besides one less tool to clean, it's one less variable in the mix. This is a big deal considering all the variables we have to deal with and try to control. Maybe my problem besides switching coffee beans on every espresso is my inferior grinder. Once my MonoCon comes (in September)...don't laugh...at least I'm on the list, I must revisit your approach sans tamper!
Bob "hello darkness my old friend..."