What are the best practices for tamping ground coffee when making espresso?

What are the best practices for tamping ground coffee when making espresso?

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  1. Press the espresso down into the filter basket with the back of a spoon or your coffee scoop. Then add some more ground espresso, and repeat. After pressing it down once or twice in this manner, you’re ready to pull your shot. Make sure the top is level (neither concave nor convex) when you’re done.
    Another consideration here is the timing of your shot. In my experience, espresso shots are best when they take between 15-19 seconds to pull. If you tamp it down too much, it will take too long. If you leave it too loosely packed, the shot will be too short (weak).
    All of this assumes (from your main question) that you are using a manual espresso machine. If your machine is automatic, then you have less control–you can generally only set how coarse or fine a grind you’d like (which affects the shot timing) but the machine will tamp it for you.

  2. Best practices for tamping ground coffee when making espresso include:

    1. ensure that the process does no put undue pressure on the wrist because Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) can occur over time if the wrist is engaged in the pressure tamping.
    2. exert sufficient pressure to ensure that the ground coffee does not move in the process of engaging the portafilter with the group head. The ‘screw-up’ pressure on the grounds as the portafilter engages tightly with the group head will exert far more pressure on the grounds than the tamp ever will.
    3. make sure all lose coffee grains have been removed from the portafilter edge so that an impenetrable seal is formed with the group head (i.e. no loss of pump pressure through the ground coffee) and so that there is minimal wear and tear on the rubber seal.
    4. tip, tap or shake lose grains from the coffee filled portafilter to minimize the amount that gets caught in the group head shower screen in the extraction process.
    5. choose the appropriate tamper. while the two-handed separate bench-tamper is safer for RSI it creates inefficiencies in a busy espresso making environment as compared with the on-grinder ‘lift & tamp’.
    6. check the spent coffee puck after extraction to ensure no pit-holes, no side cavities, the group head screw imprint is visible in the grounds and the puck that is dry, solid and removes easily in one piece from the portafilter with a single firm tap. This usually means you got the whole extraction process ‘about right’.

    Of all the variables involved in extracting the perfect espresso, I have found that tamping makes the least significant contribution.
    The other variables all play a much more significant role in getting that perfect extraction of espresso. These other variables are:

    * coffee bean species (Arabica)
    * bean quality/grade (AA, SHB, Supremo)
    * roast (mid-dark)
    * freshness (less than 2 weeks for beans, less than 15 minutes ground)
    * grinder/grind (commercial conical, fine powder)
    * dose size (maximum for the filter that the machine will allow)
    * filter & shower head (spotless)
    * portafilter seal with group head (non-penetrable under 10 bar pressure)
    * water quality (filtered & demineralized),
    * temperature (94 degrees) and
    * run time (20-25 seconds)

    Because I fill my portafilter to the maximum amount, I use the tamping process to simply work the pack of mound coffee into a usable form that is shaped slightly higher at the edges than the middle. This properly and neatly shaped ground coffee in the portafilter can then be more easily connected with the espresso machine without causing spillage and interfeering with the very important need to have a tight non-penetrable seal between the portafilter and t…

  3. Read other good answers.I was taught to exert about 12 kg pressure when tamping and to turn the tamper during the proocess this enures an better distribution of the water during extration. If you use an Espro tamper, it actually clicks whenthe correct pressure is applied. The compressed coffee. In the Portafilter should not touch the water outlet in the Group Head.

  4. A proper Italian-style espresso’s extraction time is usually between 20-30 seconds. I personally try to achieve at least 23-27 seconds.
    But as we all know, there are many variables that could affect the taste of your espresso shot. Tamping, being one of the key variables that are often hard to control.
    The golden rule is 30 pounds of pressure. For starters, it is best tamping your espresso on a bathroom scale until you become familiar with the amount of strength to use.
    However, if you intend to be working in a coffee shop making coffee, for workplace safety, it is best you familiarize yourself to the right technique and posture. Wrist must always be straight, and your arm should always be perpendicular (at right angles) to the bench top. This puts you in a comfortable angle which allows you to control your strength, and hopefully get you used to the required 30 pounds of pressure.
    If you can maintain this tamping variable, you only have 2 more variables to worry about – grind size and dose.
    All the best.


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