Clover Leaf Coffee "Tamper" Use

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
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#1: Post by Nunas »

For many years, I distributed and tamped to 30#, as was common practice. After a long stay in Spain, I stopped doing this, having picked up the habit from a local barista to use a lighter tamp of about 10#. More recently, I stopped tamping at all, in the normal sense, opting instead to merely push my tamper down far enough to produce the requisite headspace. Coupled with longer infusion time before the pull, this has produced much more consistent shots.

Recently, I took that a step farther by buying one of the myriads of cloverleaf tampers available on Amazon and elsewhere. It does an amazing job. By virtue of the design, my pucks are dead level and nicely polished before use. But after use, I notice that the spent puck is somewhat concave. It's not unlike the spent pucks I used to get when using a curved-base tamper. The results are still very good.

But, this makes me wonder if there are meaningful variations on how to use the tamper. For example, I generally give the PF a little tap or two to do a rough distribution, then I set the "tamper" on top and rotate it, letting the considerable weight of the tamper compress the puck. I also tried pressing the tamper a bit as I twisted, just to see the difference...none that I could discern.

So, anyone out there messing around with these things, measuring puck density at different points and so on?


#2: Post by Montrealer »

I use the distribute and tamp method with this tool.

Before starting i do two side taps and one vertical down tap of the portafilter in the palm of my hand.

Then i take the tool. As the clover starts making contact with the coffee, i start twisting and holding its wight back to do a very slow compress + twist.

After a few 1/4 turns, i let the full weight of the tool rest on the bed and keep twisting. When compression stops from the weight alone, i then start a push twist, until the tool bottoms out on the portafilter.

The final compression force is is maybe 10 lbs max?

I use a regular tamper just to check/finalise the tamp manually.

This method has the added benefit of not needing to adjust the tool depth all the time when changing beans.

I don't have any puckology to prove this works, only visual confirmation of consistent extractions via naked portafilter.

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#3: Post by Nunas »

Thanks for responding! I thought I might be coming up with nothing but crickets on this thread :lol:

I thought this cloverleaf gadget was just another thing that I would play with and quickly abandon. Not so! I love it. My current technique, if one can call it that is similar to yours, except I don't follow with any tamping. Also, before getting this gadget I started leaving a deeper headspace, about half again the normal, mostly because the tamper that came with my ECM Synk is deep. So, I set the cloverleaf thing (what the heck is the proper name for this thing anyway :?: ) to the same depth. My pulls have always been really good with a regular tamper (which I just use as a depth gauge, not a true tamp). But now they are truly consistent shot after shot. Once I tried turning the cloverleaf thing CCW instead of clockwise...does not work well that way.


#4: Post by ludespeedny »

Sorry to piggyback off your thread, but how do you guys know what depth to set the leveler to? i use the leveler only method for now, but trying to get it all set up correct.

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#5: Post by Nunas »

I set mine so that the levelled coffee is a little lower than the level of the ridge in my basket. This allows plenty of room for expansion of the puck during infusion. Note that I don't tamp. In my double basket, I put 18 grams of very finely ground coffee. I then lift the lever (e61) and allow the pump to bring the pressure in the basket up to about 6 to 7 bar, at which time I lower the lever halfway to shut off the pump. I watch the pressure slowly subside as the air is displaced from the grounds and the grounds swell. At about 3 bar I raise the lever and pull. If you want to try this technique and don't have a brew pressure gauge, then raise the lever for about 5-6 seconds, lower it to halfway to shut off the pump, and when you see a few drops of coffee start to emerge from the PF then raise the lever to pull the shot.

Edit: oops, I see you have a Silvia. I'm not sure how any of this would work for you.


#6: Post by ludespeedny »

I have a silvia and don't have a pressure gauge on it.


#7: Post by Montrealer »

If you want to level and tamp with the clover, i think the best way to do so is to try to match your tamping pressure to when the tool "bottoms out" on the basket ridge.

For minimal coffee waste, i suggest slowly increasing clover depth + finish the tamp with your regular tamper until you no longer compress the puck when pushing down with your regular tamper.

I systematically finish with a "check tamp" with my regular tamper (light, less than 10 lbs or so) as a safety check but it rarely compresses the puck any further.

I too tend to grind very fine with long preinfusion. So that influences my prefered tamping pressure. Keep that in mind when adjusting your tool and aim for your desired output weight/time.