Can someone explain the Normcore tamper to me?

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#1: Post by LittleCoffee »

I'm after a tamper upgrade as I'm not happy with how much effort it's taking me to achieve a level (i.e. not canted) puck with my standard tamper.

I'm struggling to wrap my head around the Normcore tamper.

I can see if you have a spring loaded tamper that isn't self-levelling you'd rest it against the coffee and press down. As soon as you feel the handle move it will tell you the spring is compressing and so you're at the right pressure (or at least the pressure of the spring) and so you should stop.

I can also see if you have a levelling tamper without a spring, you'd rest the tamper on the upper lip of the basket, you'd rest the tamper on the coffee and you'll press like a normal tamper but only constrained to do so vertically against the basket.

But the Normcore combines these two actions into a spring loaded, self levelling tamper and here I struggle. I can see how you'd rest the tamper against the basket lip, but then there doesn't seem to be any way to guarantee that the tamper is resting on the coffee. And so when you begin to press, you'll compress the spring, and at some point the tamper will start moving down once the spring is compressed. But that doesn't tell you anything useful feedback wise. Then the tamper will touch the coffee and then you need to press whatever tamping pressure you want to tamp your puck with PLUS the spring tension. I'm either completely missing how this thing works or else this seems completely pointless?

Can someone help set me straight? Thanks in advance!

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#2: Post by slybarman »

discusses the tamper about 2 minutes in.

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#3: Post by BaristaBob »

I agree, the feel of these tampers (without some form of mechanical restriction) makes that tamp just a little variable IMO. You really get use to it as with the Decent Espresso v2-4. Great tampers, but I much prefer tampers that provide some "feedback". The Force tamper provides plenty of feedback automatically. The Bravo, more subtle, a gentle "bump" in the palm as you reach the max pressure...I believe around 15-20lbs. They are much more expensive than the Normcore, so the choice is up to you. You can purchase the Normcore through Amazon and then you have 30 days to return it if you don't like it.
Bob "hello darkness my old friend..I've come to drink you once again"

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#4: Post by pizzaman383 »

The spring on most of the self-leveling tampers (levtamp, easytamp, decent v4) is only there to keep the plate that sits on the edge of the filter basket "down" through the process of tamping because that is what keeps the tamper level. That spring needs to be heavy enough to do that job but light enough to not require too much force to mov the tamper face. When you place the tamper into the filter basket with the leveling plate sitting on the edge of the basket you then need to push down on the handle to overcome that spring so the tamper face moves down. The amount of force that is imparted to tamping the coffee is the amount you push minus the amount it takes to compress the spring. The spring does nothing to compress the coffee nor to limit how much force you can apply to the coffee.

This is harder to explain accurately than it is to use one. They do work.
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#5: Post by Milligan »

I've got the Normcore tamper. I went through quite a few before getting this one and it has stuck with me for awhile. I keep it pretty simple. I push down until it wont go down any more. It uses a spring to limit the tamper pressure and bottoms out on the lip spring before the tamper spring is fully compressed. So even if you put all your weight on it you still get the same tamp force since that excess weight is diverted to the portafilter.

The only variable is the distance between the puck and the bed. Less distance, slightly higher pressure. I don't find this to be much of an issue because it is consistent between same dose, same coffee, and same basket. Therefore it is taken care of in your initial dial in.

Great tamper for the price IMO.

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#6: Post by LittleCoffee (original poster) »

Thanks everyone - i now get that there are two springs. the first allows you to position by feel, the second to exert pressure by feel through the spring. i get how it's not perfect, but I also can't bring myself to pay 4x the normcore price for the force tamper. Given quite a few people seem to like the normcore I've gone ahead and ordered it - fingers crossed I join the club of happy normcore users!

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#7: Post by NewCoffeeGuy1 replying to LittleCoffee »

Your post is timely as I've weirdly recently developed a habit of non-level tamping despite my best efforts. I've gone ahead and ordered the Normcore but if I can get Gilbert to make me a Bravo with a white handle I may pull the trigger there...

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#8: Post by imcoffee2cu »

i am a new user of normcore v4 myself as i find my manual tamp skews a bit. for the sake of eliminating variables, i decided on the normcore v4. same with majority, cant justify forcetamper or bravo amidst a lot of praise.
for me, i am always able to meet the bottom of the handle with the level ring for my 18g dose, not sure if it tamps the whole puck completely as i always "bottom out".
coffee extraction is still not the awesome instagram youtube users, but i guess improved from the manual tamp as there is lesser noteable areas not covered by the coffee extraction.

and before anyone asks, wdt, taps, then tamp.

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#9: Post by espressoren »

I too was skeptical but once you use one it all makes sense. I thought I was simply pushing the tamper through the cover piece that rests on the basket. There is a spring action there, but the handle and tamper also compress independently with a second spring action. It's a bit like a prop knife where the blade retracts into the handle, you feel like you must be pushing all the way through the bottom of the basket but you just end up with a nice level puck.

I actually have the ikape version but basically the same thing.

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#10: Post by daviddecristoforo »

But... doesn't the amount of ground coffee in the basket affect the amount of pressure? If there's more grounds in the basket, the tamper will not "bottom out" on the ring. At that point, would you not be able to apply more pressure?