To tamp or not to tamp - Page 2

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mattwells

#11: Post by mattwells »

I have little experience in the 'light tamp' world, but have been tamping to a consistent 30 pounds for the past 2 years on my e-61 machines. I just got a Cremina and am having to do the 'no tamp' (although, I do have a little downward pressure when performing my Stockfleth's - a habit I can't kill) because I don't have a 49.5mm tamper.

At this point (having pulled about 5 shots from my Cremina), the grinding finer/no tamp is working pretty darn well. And is MUCH easier to accomplish (without practice) than the 30#'s I used to tamp.

I have not had enough experience to say whether one 'tastes' better, but I do think the no-tamp method is a touch easier/more consistent. I would be interested to see if we could get some of the more experienced tasters to do a test on their machines (whether it be pump or lever) to see if the no-tamp is a valid prep method.

Interesting discussion.

/mw
Matt Wells

LMWDP #160

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Latte Jed

#12: Post by Latte Jed »

Wow- The convergence, tangency and dogma fluttering around the threads lately! Things I agree with- things not. Some presented with great care and persuasion and some just more raw but all genuine in belief. Some of the members here have a scientific approach and some instinctual.
.......

It is in these threads I love to see the variety of opinions and approaches. All is valid / nothing is valid. It is so informative to just read a stated opinion that I may hold and see it promoted and then pulled apart for validation or repudiation. I have double pulled before, but not now. I may return to the practice one day- and why I do not know yet. Thats OK for me. I will let my mouth tell me what is next.
I'm with you, Greg. The variety of responses we see here makes it all the more interesting. Like you I rotate through several different machines as the mood strikes me. Some days it's the La Pavoni with a hand Zass grinder, other days I'm on the Brewtus and the Zip grinder, other times I'm on the Conti. I try to be consistent, but all these machines seem to have their own personalities and I use techniques that helps them agree with me.

I love to see what works for other HBers, and I adapt what I can use.

Back to tamping, I've been a 40 pounder, which I check on the scale that the La Pavoni sits on. This discussion, and reading David Schomer, has convinced me to try 30lbs. And I think I'll try the "sotto voce" tamp that I've heard the Italians use.

Thanks, guys.

Charlie Bruce
LMWDP #076

grong

#13: Post by grong »

mattwells wrote:I would be interested to see if we could get some of the more experienced tasters to do a test on their machines (whether it be pump or lever) to see if the no-tamp is a valid prep method.
I must admit that I have only been making and drinking espresso for 20 years. When I am more experienced, I will report back. Until then, please take my above comments about enjoying the cup from a light tamp under advisement.

Trust your tastebuds!

Just how experienced are those Italians, anyway?

mattwells

#14: Post by mattwells »

grong wrote:
I must admit that I have only been making and drinking espresso for 20 years. When I am more experienced, I will report back. Until then, please take my above comments about enjoying the cup from a light tamp under advisement.
And my Grandfather has been making and drinking coffee for 87 years, by your logic I should trust what he says over Peter Guliano then? No, Grandpa only uses folgers and a percolator, his 87 years experience doesn't help him be a better judge of coffee. My 3 years of home-cupping attempts and fresh roasted coffee probably makes me more qualified.

My comment was not to knock your decision to no-tamp (which I am doing as well), but to try to get some more 'professional' tasting and methodology in. To get some of the people who regularly evaluate espresso (not drink espresso, but actually evaluate it) and have them do some double-blind testing, test across a few different blends, etc.
Matt Wells

LMWDP #160

grong

#15: Post by grong »

My comment was not to knock your decision to no-tamp
Certainly not!
but to try to get some more 'professional' tasting and methodology in.
Okay, Matt. There's always room for that.

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peacecup

#16: Post by peacecup »

I have been getting very good results with light tamping lately. Not exactly the "level and kiss no-tamp", but just enough to compact and polish the puck. I still don't like such a light tamp the the "cake" is loose and mushy. I still believe (based on no direct evidence, but on hydrodynamic ideas) that if the grinds as so loosely packed they will move about the basket during extraction, and water will find the path of least resistance, i.e. "channels" will develop. I believe if the puck is tamped and polished so that it does not move, extraction will be more even.

I am thankful to timo for promoting the light tamp technique. I'd read about it long ago, and had been gravitating towards it, but his relentless efforts have hastened my experiments.

PC
LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

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timo888

#17: Post by timo888 »

mattwells wrote: ... get some of the people who regularly evaluate espresso (not drink espresso, but actually evaluate it) and have them do some double-blind testing, test across a few different blends, etc.
For a blind test to be a valid quasi-objective assessment of the quality of the espresso made with no tamp or a very light tamp, the baristas who are making the espresso must be practiced in the art of making espresso in that manner.

Regards
Timo

grong

#18: Post by grong »

A cup of espresso is worth a thousand words. —anonymous

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frege

#19: Post by frege »

I just pulled two single shots (double basket) with my Leva. I used the same grind and bean that I've been using over the last few days (Hairbender that my sweetie picked up for me on a business trip to Portland). I did not tamp; I just rested my Reg Barber (which weighs something like 500g) on top of the grounds and polished with no downward pressure.

Both shots turned out beautifully. I was expecting gushers, but nope. Lovely spotted crema (more on shot 1 but both had a nice reddish-brown and pretty thick crema), and the flavour of the shots was great, balanced. not that I've not had good results tamping with this batch. I was very surprised and pleased.

I might add that I have permanently adopted a short pre-infusion. I infuse until I hear the filling in the brew chamber stop, which takes about 4 seconds.

I'm not going to give up tamping, I think, but I am looking forward to trying this on beans that seem less heat tolerant and that seem to suffer more from overextraction (eg the Hines I bought yesterday).
LMWDP #119

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narc

#20: Post by narc »

Depends. I'm beginning to get the impression that light to heavy tamp is dependent on type of machine, specific machine, level of grind, evenness of distribution .... Just too many factors to make a hard statement on degree of tamp needed to pull the ultimate shot.

This morning while flushing the head clean on the Ponte Vecchio Lusso (PVL) a thought developed. The boiler pstat is set at 1.0 +/- 0.05 bars. So the maximum pressure at preinfusion would be ~29.4 psi(1atm + 1.05 bars). Considering the linear water flow that hits the puck initially at a low pressure maxing to the 1.05 Bars would not the puck be basically "tamped" by the water pressure to ~30pounds? By having a lighter than 30# tamp the water instead of hitting a "wall" of coffee would hit a puck that would more readily absorb the water. Compression by water pressure and the expansion of the coffee occurring in tandem. Might this process contribute to the quality of the shot? Would the dynamics of a less violent impact be a factor that has resulted in the better and more consistent quality espresso I have been pulling with a lighter tamp?
LMWDP #151