- Espresso Tamper Buying Guide: How do I choose an espresso tamper?
- Best Espresso Tampers of 2021 [Top 7 Reviews]
- 1. LuxHaus Calibrated Espresso Tamper - Our Top Pick
- 2. Motta Professional Coffee Tamper - Also Great
- 3. Tamper for Espresso Coffee by Purple Mountain - Most Durable
- 4. MATOW Calibrated Coffee Tamper - Best Calibrated
- 5. MATOW Dual Head Espresso Tamper - Best Leveler
- 6. ESPRO Calibrated Convex Espresso Tamper - Best Convex Base
- 7. Zoie + Chloe Stainless Steel Espresso Coffee Tamper - Best Budget Pick
One of the most obvious differences between baristas at heart and those who just drink espresso for the extra caffeine is that the latter sticks to the plasticky disk that came with their machine.
The former? They use one of the best espresso tampers, of course!
Since we can tell that you take your espresso very seriously, we’ve tested and reviewed the best models and compiled a simple buying guide to help you choose your first or next tamper.
After all, the way you press your grounds can make all the difference, so don’t let your espresso be a shot in the dark!
OUR TOP PICKS
- Traditional wooden design
- Standard size
- Made in Italy
- 4 different sizes
- Made in the USA
- Extremely durable
Espresso Tamper Buying Guide: How do I choose an espresso tamper?
Here’s why this small tool is one of the most important parts of your espresso equipment and how to choose the right one for you.
How important is tamping?
When it comes to espresso brewing, tamping is key. In fact, that’s one of the main variables that allow you to avoid an uneven extraction by blocking the formation of pockets of air (1).
“Tamping is just another name for compressing coffee grounds into a “cake”, or puck, in the portafilter.”Coffee Magazine
Basically, when the water is pressured through the grounds, it will naturally find the path with the least resistance. If your puck was tamped correctly, there won’t be any: your espresso will be evenly extracted and as delicious as it gets.
If it wasn’t tamped properly, you’ll incur into channeling, which is what happens when the water goes through these less dense areas and pockets of air first. In other words, an unevenly extracted mess.
How do you tamp coffee properly?
To tamp coffee properly, you must follow these steps, which we promise will become automatic after the first couple of times:
- Place your fine grounds in the portafilter and level them by pushing off any excess coffee;
- After placing the portafilter on your counter, tamp the grounds by bending your elbow at around 90 degrees but keeping your wrist straight;
- Once you can see a compact puck, push even harder (around 30 pounds of pressure) but without overdoing it or hurting yourself (you’d be surprised!) (2) ;
- Twist the tamper on the puck to ensure that there are no gaps on the surface;
- Wipe off any leftover grounds around the edges of your portafilter.
PRO TIP: To aim for the correct amount of pressure, you can either choose a calibrated tamper or practice with a bathroom scale for the first few times: stand on it while tamping and check your weight decrease until it’s 30 lbs. lighter.
Standard 58 mm or a different size?
58 mm is the most popular portafilter size when it comes to espresso machines. However, it’s not universal!
Some models can be slightly smaller or larger, and trust us: even 0.5 mm will make a difference when it comes to espresso tamping.
Be sure to measure the exact size of yours in order to find the best espresso tamper for it!
Weight & material
The reason why plastic tampers are unreliable is that they’re too light to help you press the grounds correctly.
Instead, look for a metal tamper and, preferably, one that weighs between 1 and 2 pounds: this will allow you to reach the recommended 30 pounds of pressure more easily.
We also recommend avoiding espresso tampers with coatings that could flake off and end up in your portafilter. Yuck!
The flat or convex debate
Just like whether or not pineapple goes on pizza, you’ll hear many baristas have different opinions as to what type of base you should pick.
A flat base is still the most popular, but a convex shape could help you prevent channeling by pushing some grounds towards the edges.
For home brewing, both are fine, so it really comes down to personal preference.
Calibrated tamper or not?
If you’re still getting used to tamping or you simply want to be 100% sure that you’re using the correct amount of pressure, you could consider choosing a calibrated espresso tamper.
These models include a small gap between the handle and the metal part of the tamper which you can only close when you hit that sweet spot (usually 30 pounds).
Best Espresso Tampers of 2021 [Top 7 Reviews]
An overview of the small but mighty espresso tampers that let you tamp like a champ:
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Tamper by Purple Mountain
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MATOW Calibrated Tamper
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MATOW Dual Head
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Zoie + Chloe Tamper
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Let’s see which of the best espresso tampers can become your faithful barista sidekick.
1. LuxHaus Calibrated Espresso Tamper - Our Top Pick
- Size: 51, 53 or 58mm
- Material: hard plastic and stainless steel
- Weight: 0.96 lbs
Best for: a versatile, calibrated experience
Combining an ergonomic hard-plastic handle and a food-safe stainless steel base without any dangerous coating, this simple but timeless model has your morning espresso covered.
The LuxHaus relies on the popular flat base and, as well as the standard 58mm size, it comes in two different ones too, so it can easily fit most portafilters.
We know that aesthetics isn’t the main factor when it comes to the best espresso tampers, but we couldn’t help appreciating the versatile design of this model and the fact that it comes in a red velvet pouch.
The only small problem—and this is just to be pedantic—is that the logo engraving on its base might end up trapping some grounds, but that’s unlikely to cause any mess.
Bottom line: A timeless design, perfect calibration, and different sizes to choose from.
2. Motta Professional Coffee Tamper - Also Great
- Size: 58 mm
- Material: wood and stainless steel
- Weight: 0.77 lbs
Best for: those who love traditions
What we like about the Motta Professional Coffee Tamper is that it maintains a nostalgic design without compromising on its effectiveness.
As well as a 18-10 stainless steel base, it features a beautiful wooden handle that makes it look like just the tampers you’ve seen in cafés and a stunning example of made in Italy design.
Featuring a flat base and a 58mm size, it also matches most portafilters.
Just keep in mind that the wooden handle means it’s not dishwasher safe.
Bottom line: If you want to recreate some coffee shop vibes but don’t need a calibrated model, this is guaranteed to be the best espresso tamper for you.
3. Tamper for Espresso Coffee by Purple Mountain - Most Durable
- Size: 49, 51, 53 and 58mm
- Material: solid stainless steel
- Weight: 1.5 lbs
Best for: those who prefer a simple, one-piece model
When it comes to durability, you only have to worry about that of your floor tiles... if you ever were to drop this Purple Mountain tamper!
This heavy model is entirely made of food-safe stainless steel, without any platings or coatings. This means it’s durable, resistant, and dishwasher safe.
Plus, it’s made in the USA and its finish will help it match the rest of your coffee equipment and kitchen appliances.
Bottom line: A reliable block with a versatile look.
4. MATOW Calibrated Coffee Tamper - Best Calibrated
- Size: 53mm
- Material: wood or aluminum handle and stainless steel
- Weight: 0.75 lbs
Best for: the most professional calibrated tamp
This calibrated model is designed to let you hit a 30-lb. tamp every single time.
Whether you opt for the sandal wood or aluminum finish, you can rely on a comfortable and ergonomic handle and an impeccable flat base.
Because it’s made of stainless steel without any coating, you also don’t need to worry about food safety.
Bottom line: An impeccable tamp and a stylish design.
5. MATOW Dual Head Espresso Tamper - Best Leveler
- Size: 53mm
- Material: aluminum and stainless steel
- Weight: 1.08 lbs
Best for: those who want to polish the grounds properly before tamping them
It’s easy to forget about this step, but leveling your grounds is just as important as the tamping itself (3):
“If you tamp when the puck is just a little uneven, that pressurized hot water also won’t make its way through the coffee evenly.” Perfect Daily Grind
The MATOW Dual Head Espresso Tamper takes care of both steps: the blade side allows you to polish the grounds, while the flat half tamps them.
By including an adjustable depth, this two-in-one model will let you customize and perfect your tamping experience.
Bottom line: There’s no better way to ensure a leveled surface than to use this dual-head espresso tamper.
6. ESPRO Calibrated Convex Espresso Tamper - Best Convex Base
- Size: 49, 51, 57 and 58mm
- Material: anodized aluminum and stainless steel
- Weight: 1 lb
Best for: those who prefer convex bases
If you’re part of the convex base squad, look no further than this ergonomic Espro model.
Not only does it include this alternative to the traditional flat base, but it’s also calibrated, so you really won’t need to struggle to apply the correct amount of pressure.
This versatile model is made of anodized aluminum and stainless steel and, luckily, it’s available in four different sizes, so it’s extremely likely to fit your portafilter.
Bottom line: If you don’t want to leave anything to chance when it comes to channeling, this calibrated convex tamper will make sure everything runs smoothly.
7. Zoie + Chloe Stainless Steel Espresso Coffee Tamper - Best Budget Pick
- Size: 58mm
- Material: stainless steel
- Weight: 0.8 lbs
Best for: an affordable but reliable tamper
The world of espresso tampers isn’t necessarily divided into expensive models and cheap plasticky options. This Zoie + Chloe tamper is the perfect compromise to get the right tamp without a crazy price tag.
Featuring a flat bottom, it’s made of reliable stainless steel but, due to its handle, isn’t dishwasher safe.
Still, we’re pretty sure you’re going to fall in love with its colorful design, available in either red, blue or rose gold.
Should your portafilter be smaller than the standard 58mm size, check out the 49mm version of the same Zoie + Chloe model.
Bottom line: An affordable espresso tamper in lots of attention-grabbing colors.
1. Do you need a tamper for espresso?
Yes, you definitely need a tamper for espresso if you want to avoid channeling and uneven extraction. While most espresso machines come with a small plastic tamper, investing in a separate, more professional model will allow you to obtain barista-worthy results.
2. What is the best coffee tamper?
The best coffee tamper is the LuxHaus Calibrated Tamper because it helps you familiarize yourself with the correct amount of pressure that you should apply and facilitates keeping it consistent. Alternatively, if you don’t care for a calibrated option, the best coffee tamper for you would probably be the Motta Professional Coffee Tamper.
3. What makes a good coffee tamper?
A good coffee tamper must be the perfect size for your specific portafilter, the right weight (1-2 lbs), sturdy and reliable, made of food-safe materials, and, if you think you’d struggle to apply the correct pressure, calibrated.
- Johnson, M. (2019, May 16). Tamp That!. Retrieved from https://www.coffeemagazine.co.za/blog/9/5637/tamp-that
- Pinola, M. (2014, April 12). Use the Right Tamping Pressure for Perfect Espresso Shots. Retrieved from https://lifehacker.com/use-the-right-tamping-pressure-for-perfect-espresso-sho-1666786261
- Petrich, I. L. (2017, December 18). How to pull a perfect shot of espresso. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/12/weighing-grinding-tamping-how-to-pull-a-great-espresso-shot/