Convex corrects errors better than flat tampers? - Page 3

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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Psyd

#21: Post by Psyd »

Just remember that everyone has different experiences, 'cause everyone lives in a different clime, altitude, with different water, different grinders, and different machines with different accessories. The combination of variables that would allow your experiences to directly parallel anyone's here would require identical kit, in your kitchen, and would make the whole forum thing moot.
Anyhoo, regardless of anyone's stance that this is or this is not the way, keep that in mind when you ask such questions. Take the Root Mean Square of any response, discarding both the highest and lowest three scores as fanatics who aren't to be persuaded by facts.
And if this vendor has published his pet theories online somewhere, he knows that one of us will eventually see it and challenge it. We're a very skeptical group, and they've either decided that they have evidence to back it up, or hope for sales til they're exposed! ; >
Truly, they vend the stuff, mostly, from the designer and inventor's promotional hype. In effect, they are usually telling you what they've been told to sell the item. The theory that I repeated seems to have been well shot down by cafeIKE, as well as the one that it may help seal the edges. Since he will regularly advocate a no-tamp, he may have his own agenda, or the e-61 will work equally well with anything from no tamp at all to the bottom of a jelly jar. cannonfodder, OTOH, has regular exposure to many different machines, and many different tamps. He says that it will make a difference, and it may be one or the other of the theories being debunked that is the reason why. Or not.
When you arrive here, what you're looking for is a number of responses to give you an idea of a direction. Those in the situation most similar to yours should carry the most weight. While there are quite a few very knowledgeable folks that post here, there are a large percentage that won't have any experience with a lever machine, or haven't ever touched a Gaggia Classic. Not having touched the machinery that you're playing with, their advice might be great, just not applicable. Take it with as many grains of salt as you think you might need.
As far as tampers go, unless you're pulling with the frequency of a pro, the most important factor is what it looks like when your friends see you using it. I had a fifty-three mm jelly jar for quite a while.
make sure it fits, and get a flat or a convex. Then, later on, get the opposite base for it and compare. Then, even further down the road, get another handle so you have both! Once you've figured out which one actually makes the best coffee, sell the other on ebay, CL, or CG, so another HB gets to make the experiment!
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

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cafeIKE
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#22: Post by cafeIKE »

Psyd wrote: Since [cafeIKE] will regularly advocate a no-tamp, he may have his own agenda
My only agenda is great espresso without unnecessary falderol. I always tamp, except for demonstration purposes that no tamp maybe equally as effective a calibrated tippy-tappy-twirler. Of course, YMMV.

zin1953

#23: Post by zin1953 »

Sarah? Don't over-think this.

I have three 58mm tampers; two are convex and one is flat. I have a 49mm tamper and one that is 45mm; both are flat.
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

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cannonfodder
Team HB

#24: Post by cannonfodder »

Psyd wrote: cannonfodder, OTOH, has regular exposure to many different machines, and many different tamps. He says that it will make a difference, and it may be one or the other of the theories being debunked that is the reason why. Or not.
I have had one machine that it made a difference on, a 60 vintage Faema two group. The other dozen machines I have had the pleasure to use, it made no difference.

As a new home barista, I would put your tamper selection way down on the list of things to worry about. Don't stress over it or get overwhelmed. Just find one that is the correct size, presumably 58mm. Don't worry about getting a custom fitted to your basket, an off the shelf 58 will work just fine. Just find something that looks good to you and get it. As to flat or convex, heads, convex, tales, flat, flip a quarter and get that one. If after 6 months of using your new home kit you think the other piston type may make a difference, you can purchase just a piston and screw your handle on it.

Don't sweat the little stuff, just enjoy the coffee. As to...
Oy! What a "hobby" this is! It seems hard to see the end of the tunnel where I will finally have all the equipment I need for a great shot and great microfoamed milk....
All you need is a machine, good grinder, container for frothing milk (a Styrofoam cup would even work, I do it all the time at work) and most importantly, fresh coffee and patience. You have fallen down the rabbit hole, and it is a deep hole from which there is not climbing out. Just enjoy the ride and follow the white rabbit.
Dave Stephens

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cafeIKE
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#25: Post by cafeIKE »

cannonfodder wrote:I have had one machine that it made a difference on, a 60 vintage Faema two group.
Not to be overly picky, but for illustrative purposes :
  • - at all doses?
    - were diameters identical?
    - were the handles identical?
    - what was the piston thickness?
    - at pressure, was the rim of the tamper in the identical position relative to the basket rim?
    - what was your experience level at the time? IRRC, you've mentioned you'd a problem with off camber tamps.
Too often we ascribe 'improvements' to a 'change' when in fact there are multiple unaccounted for factors contributing to the improvement.

I know :oops: :cry: :roll:

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Psyd

#26: Post by Psyd »

cafeIKE wrote:My only agenda is great espresso without unnecessary falderol. .
Perhaps 'regularly' and 'advocate' were used in haste for expediency.
cannonfodder wrote:I have had one machine that it made a difference on, a 60 vintage Faema two group.

As a new home barista, I would put your tamper selection way down on the list of things to worry about.
Unless you've purchased a vintage two-group Faema! Or something similar... :wink:


Anyhoo, I was just using your recent posts as examples of points of view. I didn't mean to indicate that that represented your position on tampers in general. Even if it sounded sorta like that. Apologies all around.
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

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cannonfodder
Team HB

#27: Post by cannonfodder »

Not at all, we learn for each other and I still have plenty to learn. As Ian points out, there are many variables that can make a difference and typically, or rather in my limited experience, they make a much larger impact that the shape of the tamper. This old Faema was the only machine I have had that experience with. I have even tamped with a bottle when I forgot my tamper when traveling. Yes, on an extended trip I will pack a grinder and espresso machine.
Dave Stephens

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Psyd

#28: Post by Psyd »

cannonfodder wrote: Yes, on an extended trip I will pack a grinder and espresso machine.
If by 'extended' you mean more than overnight, yeah, mee too! I have a Silvia/Rocky (well, Brace of Rockys) at the GF's house, and a small lever paired with a brace of hand grinders in an ATA case for the road-trips. The lever gets replaced by a mokapot if I'm going somewhere without electricity.
Doesn't everyone have a road kit? :wink:
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

IMAWriter

#29: Post by IMAWriter »

Sarah, another consideration is what fits comfortably in your hand. IMO, MORE important that piston shape.
I really like my slightly "downsized" by length Penney tamper, as it affords me the ability to have my fingers at the piston, so I can "grab a feel" :oops: ...that is, be able to feel the rim of the basket for a guaranteed LEVEL tamp, again something that has no correlation to which piston bottom configuration you choose.
If you're going 58mm, most tamper makers will offer a slightly shorter tamper if you need one...unless you have hands like Rachmaninoff. :lol:
Rob
LMWDP #187
www.robertjason.com

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michaelbenis

#30: Post by michaelbenis »

sweaner wrote:Sarah, do you now see that you are over thinking this? The tamper is probably the least important aspect of espresso making. However, I think they look great. Find one that looks good and fits the basket and you will be good to go.
That's the advice I would take from all this. If so many experienced coffee fiends can't agree - and one can only assume that what they are doing works for them - well, that gives you an idea of your priorities.

Take the money you would be spending on a really expensive tamper (unless it is one of Les Alberg's works of art) and put it towards a better grinder.

Great fresh beans and the right grind are what make the biggest difference. You could get by with even the crappiest, wrong-sized plastic tamper with that....

Cheers

Mike
LMWDP No. 237