Can't get a level tamp, should I Puqpress?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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#1: Post by RJB83 »

I have a big step tamper and even with that my tamps aren't even in the basket, one side is always higher.

Thinking about investing in the puqpress mini and calling it a day.

I don't want to invest in any more expensive tampers only to end up with the same result

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#2: Post by DaveC replying to RJB83 »

It's funny, in 20 years, I have never felt the need for a device like that....I've used the same Reg Barber for almost 18 years...been quite happy with it.

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#3: Post by Marcelnl »

perhaps you are trying too hard, that is ; as in pressing too hard?

Even a slightly askew puck extracts just fine.
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#4: Post by HB »

I used the Puqpress at catering events and posted videos in the PuqPress Automatic Tamper Review. It cut a few seconds off the drink-to-drink time. For a home barista where seconds don't matter, there are no-cost and low-cost alternatives (e.g., technique tricks or levelers or level tampers).

I offered some "no cost" tips for a level tamp in the Newbie Introduction to Espresso - Grinders video (TL;DW - dose with the basket outside the portafilter, pay attention to the landing, check level before pressing hard). Another technique that I didn't mention that really makes it idiot-proof is a distributor/leveler. Assuming you distributed correctly or used the WDT, the "distributor" part is really superfluous, but you can set the depth to just above pre-tamp height. Because the leveler hugs the rim, the coffee is "pre-tamped" with precision. Your final tamp at that point really can't mess it up since the coffee bed is already perfectly even and partially compressed.
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RJB83 (original poster)
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#5: Post by RJB83 (original poster) »

I may try dosing and tamping in the basket only vs holding the double spout portafilter on the edge of the counter with a tamp pad.

I'll also try not to press so hard, it could be that when I press hard my wrist shifts and so does the puck

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#6: Post by SteveRhinehart »

A leveling tamper would be a much less expensive alternative. Normcore and Levtamp are the two I've seen most often, but I am sure there are other options on the market. They use a plate to catch the top of the basket and hold the piston perpendicular to the plane of the basket rim. Puck tampers can do the same, but you'll need to reset the depth any time you significantly change dose, grind, or coffee.

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#7: Post by Nunas »

It is my opinion that a level tamp is the most important aspect of preparing the puck. I've never had off-level tamps since I changed the way I do it. I hold the tamper with the butt-end in the centre of my palm, with my thumb and a few fingers extended down to the edge of the tamper. Pressing only lightly, I slightly rock the tamper back and forth N-S, E-W and in between, using my fingers to judge when the tamper is even with the rim. Once that's done, I remove the tamper, which creates a tiny bit of suction; the suction pulls the last few stray grinds from the edge of the rim and the upper part of the basket wall. It also gives me an opportunity to see how level the tamp actually is. I then reinsert the tamper and press down firmly. At the end, I swirl the tamper to polish the surface, but I suspect this does more for aesthetics than anything in the cup :lol: . This is easy to do with any high quality tamper; it might be hard to accomplish with a plastic one.

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#8: Post by cafeIKE »

A tamper should fit your hand like so:

Use your fingers to feel the basket rim. If the tamper is too tall for that, then you need a smaller handle.

You can make a cheap and cheerful tripod stand for a double PF with a small block of wood.

IMO, tampers, except in few minimum headroom cases, are bling and people are being seen off with all the falderal.
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RJB83 (original poster)
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#9: Post by RJB83 (original poster) »

Thanks I'll need to shorten the handle because to see if I can hold the same as in the pic above.

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#10: Post by Doolittlej »

A tamping stand helped me eliminate barriers to a level tamp.