Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tamping By Volume (TBV)

Pictures of tampers at 1st-line Equipment, LLC
Photo courtesy of 1st-line Equipment. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
Over the last 15 years, there has been much discussion about tamper types (flat vs curved), sizing, tamping pressure, and polishing. This is a helluva lot of reading to do, and when clients visit us, we follow one simple rule which is inline with the KISS principle:
Keep It Simple & Stupid.

In other words, our philosophy is


What does this mean? The barista will only tamp to the point where the top rim of the metal base of the tamper will be even with the top rim of the filter basket holding the coffee grinds. In this scenario, the tamping pressure always remain the same without the use of any scale. The back and forth polishing also makes sure the tamper stays even when the compression occurs and when rotating the tamper for polishing the surface.

As long as the filter basket is filled to the rim evenly every time, the tamp by volume method removes tamping pressure and volume of coffee grinds from the espresso extraction equation. The only variable remaining is finding the correct fineness in the coffee grind.

Picture of tamper base too small for filter basket
Photo courtesy of 1st-line Equipment. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
The only scenarios this method will not work is if
a) The tamper is not right sized to the basket width (pictured to left), or
b) The tamper base is of the el'cheapo plastic types that are too thin (pictured above on left side), or
c) The tamper base is too thick (both tampers in rear pictured above).

The tamper we like best for this practice is one that has a base thickness similarly sized as the Concept Art (black handle one picture above in front right).

Below, you can watch a quick video of the TBV tamping technique. Remember, to keep the ground coffee, loosely filled, consistent and even to the rim of the filter basket.

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