January 27, 2017

Barista Skills: A VIDEO Guide to Tamping


Great coffee. Great equipment. Great espresso recipe. Great water. What more do you need to create the perfect espresso?

Great tamping.

Tamping isn’t as simple as pressing your tamper into your coffee. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult either. Watch today’s video guide for step-by-step instructions from the experts.

Why Do We Tamp?

An espresso is extracted by pushing water at high pressure and great speed through ground coffee. This means that if the coffee is not evenly ground and distributed – if there are clumps or some grinds are smaller than others – you’ll get channeling. Water always takes the route with least resistance, so it will ignore those clumpy sections and go straight for the areas with more air. The result? Some of your coffee will be under-extracted (sour) and some will be over-extracted (bitter and ashy).

Fortunately, tamping helps us to keep our coffee flat, compacted, and evenly distributed. So let’s look at how to do it.

How to Distribute Grounds

Tamping will be at its most effective if the coffee grounds are evenly distributed beforehand. In fact, Scott Rao says that “the most important skill a barista can have is to distribute the grounds evenly before tamping”. In this quick clip he breaks down how best to do this. Spoiler alert: no fingers!

SEE ALSO: How to Make Your Own Tamper: A VIDEO Guide

How to Tamp

In this video from Seattle Coffee Gear, Joe takes a comprehensive look at the act of tamping. Watch to discover tips ranging from choosing the best type of tamper to the amount of force required, and your body posture to polishing.

SEE ALSO: Coffee Theory: A VIDEO Introduction to Pulling Espresso Shots

Learned something new? Let us know how these tips work for you!

Feature photo credit: David Joyce via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Please note: Perfect Daily Grind does not own the rights to these videos and cannot be held accountable for their content.

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