We don't need no stinkin' tamper!

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
User avatar
bluesman

Postby bluesman » Feb 20, 2018, 5:29 pm

In keeping with my lifelong philosophy that you need to experience things to understand them, I broke down and bought a "leveling and distribution" tool last week. This one was only $27 on Amazon, and I had a powerful urge to see if it made a difference.
Image
I adjusted it for depth until it just left a nice flat surface, tamped as usual, and pulled away. I wasn't having a problem with channeling or spatter anyway, so I can't honestly say it made any difference in the cup or on the counter. But that beautiful, level surface does make me feel good every time I look at it - and maybe it'll reduce or eliminate the spurters I get a few times a year. So I use it regularly (for now, anyway...)

I'd shucked 3 dozen oysters Saturday night and we filled up before we ate them all - so I put the uneaten ones in a container & made fried oyster po' boys Sunday. We scarfed 'em down along with turkey breast sandwiches and a bottle of wine for dinner, and we were feeling great when it was time for coffee. I did my usual thing, spun the groomer, flushed, and pulled............and I realized just as I lifted the lever that I forgot to tamp. And it didn't matter at all!

I'm using Malabar Gold right now, ground much finer than I grind most beans both because that's the roaster's recommendation and because I run line pressure preinfusion while I'm steaming. I get beads of espresso around the circumference of the basket and it's ready to drip at about 30 seconds, which is how long it takes me to foam & texturize and to clean the wand. So I preinfuse until my hands are free, then lift the lever all the way to pull the shot.

Since that epiphany, I've pulled about 10 shots with no tamp and with varying pressures. It makes absolutely no difference at all whether or not I tamp. Eye opening!!

bettysnephew

Postby bettysnephew » Feb 20, 2018, 8:24 pm

I read in another thread on this site that the Londinium guys have been making shots with very light tamps to good success. I haven't tried it with the Bosco but it sounds like you just ventured into that territory. I have a dtamp double on order from Costas of Sweden that has the grooming device but it has not arrived as of yet. I am curious as to how it will work. Probably won't need to do much more as the thing weighs 1.9 pounds.

Mmmmm... oysters!
Suffering from EAS (Espresso Acquisition Syndrome)
LMWDP #586

User avatar
tegee

Postby tegee » Feb 20, 2018, 9:30 pm

Just ordered the same exact leveling distribution device from Amazon. It arrived this evening. I anxious as well to give a try. Will pull shots tomorrow morning and report my findings.

Thanks for sharing

User avatar
bluesman

Postby bluesman » replying to tegee » Feb 20, 2018, 10:05 pm

If your Junior is a recent one with preinfusion, I'd suggest using it to the max. And you may also want to grind a bit finer than usual. I look forward to a successful event :D

mrjag

Postby mrjag » Feb 21, 2018, 12:56 am

I wonder if the darker roast or robusta beans plays into the ability to pull tamp free shots. I saw a handful of Italian baristas grind and pull without any leveling or tamping and the shots still came out great.

User avatar
Jake_G

Postby Jake_G » Feb 21, 2018, 1:15 am

I also spun the grooming tool and locked it on without tamping recently and was shocked that the shot pulled just like usual with one caveat...

With a firm tamp and long preinfusion I get almost zero coffee grounds up above the shower screen near the group gasket. When I forgot to tamp, the whole group was covered in grounds. Shower screen, walls of the portafilter basket, group gasket, you name it; it was messy.

Even so, I can't see a difference in the cup! Since this discovery I have been tamping lightly to expose the ridge of my basket after polishing as it is just a tidier process on the tail end for me.

"I'll take an espresso martini. Polished, not tamped."

- Jake

F1

Postby F1 » Feb 21, 2018, 1:28 am

I had the same exact experience the other day. In my case I am using a Pullman chisel. I was having a conversation as I was preparing the basket and I forgot to tamp. Right after I pulled the lever(E-61) is when I realized I forgot. The shot extracted only a bit faster than the previous one which had been tamped. The extraction looked even and centered from a bottomless portafilter. Flavor was the same. I was using Hologram from Counter Culture.

desmodici

Postby desmodici » Feb 21, 2018, 1:30 pm

To add to this, I've also not experienced any negative effects of having the puck hit the shower screen if I overdose or don't tamp hard enough to create adequate headspace. Purely my guess but I'm assuming its due to the more even column of water coming out of the Bosco group that hits the puck and reduces chances of channeling.

Again, the "why" is purely a guess, but can attest that its more forgiving to tamp, underdosing/overdosing than my Duetto was.

bettysnephew wrote:I read in another thread on this site that the Londinium guys have been making shots with very light tamps to good success. I haven't tried it with the Bosco but it sounds like you just ventured into that territory. I have a dtamp double on order from Costas of Sweden that has the grooming device but it has not arrived as of yet. I am curious as to how it will work. Probably won't need to do much more as the thing weighs 1.9 pounds.

Mmmmm... oysters!

User avatar
tegee

Postby tegee » Feb 22, 2018, 8:03 am

Mine just came in yesterday and played around with a bit. Definitely a nice to level grounds after grinding.

I typical do the ole school wobbling (12-6, 3-9) of the tamper to evenly disperse the puck and then tamp, but this is a nice way too so far.

I've got a really dumb question...but here it goes. What way are you supposed to spin the device, clockwise or ccw?

Thanks so much

User avatar
bluesman

Postby bluesman » Feb 22, 2018, 11:20 am

tegee wrote:What way are you supposed to spin the device, clockwise or ccw?

I think it goes CW because the slope up to each of the 3 vanes seems longer and more gradual on the leading side if turned that way. The more gradual slope seems to me to be more likely to let the ground particles flow and spread out, rather than pressing them into the puck irregularly. And for righties (which is most of us), CW seems to be the more natural way to turn it.

I'm about to make my second cap of the morning, so I'll try it CCW.

[EDIT] As expected (which rules out any scientific merit to this little experiment...), I find no difference in the cup with CCW rotation of the tool on the puck. It does leave a bit of loose ground coffee on the surface. CW rotation leaves a perfectly smooth top. It did feel a bit awkward or unnatural to rotate it counterclockwise, though.