Which espresso tamper is best?
An espresso tamper is an essential part of the espresso-making process either on the stove or with a machine, ensuring every cup gets a consistent extraction so your espresso is reliably delicious. Variations in the shape and size of a tamper make significant differences. For more information, take a look at the complete espresso tamper buying guide from BestReviews. If you’re ready to up your at-home coffee game, the Espro 58mm Calibrated Convex Tamper is the best espresso tamper for the job.
What to know before you buy an espresso tamper
Espresso tampers come in different materials, including plastic and metal. Plastic tampers are inexpensive but tend to crack more easily and absorb stains and odors because the material is porous. Aluminum espresso tampers are a better, more affordable choice, although most coffee aficionados prefer stainless steel tampers for their resilience and long lifespans.
The surface shape of an espresso tamper is either flat or convex. A flat espresso tamper contacts the coffee grounds evenly when you press it. A convex espresso tamper rises from the sides, creating a rounded tamper surface that forces coffee grounds to the sides when you press it. That motion can help prevent water from channeling around the sides of the beans, which weakens the extraction. No matter the shape, apply even force when tamping the grounds.
The size of the espresso tamper you need depends on your espresso machine’s filter basket. Tamper measurements range from 49 to 60 mm. Measure the filter basket in millimeters and shop for a tamper accordingly.
What to look for in a quality espresso tamper
The heavier the espresso tamper, the easier it is to compact the grounds. Avoid a tamper that’s too heavy to handle comfortably. Aim for an espresso tamper that weighs between 10-25 ounces for the best handling.
If an espresso tamper is calibrated, that means it has a spring between the base and handle, offering an equal force for each use. Calibrated tampers are ideal for coffee drinkers who frequently enjoy espresso drinks or who want to get a perfect shot every time. These tampers produce consistent, precise results, although they are more expensive than regular tampers.
Some tampers come with a dual head that offers a different size tamper on each end. These are best for espresso machines with multiple filter basket sizes so you only need one tool no matter how you prepare your espresso.
You hold onto the handle of the espresso tamper when compressing the grounds into the filter basket, so it’s crucial to find a handle that suits your grip comfortably and is durable enough to withstand repeated use. Metal and wood handles are more resilient than plastic ones.
How much you can expect to spend on an espresso tamper
Most stainless steel tampers cost between $10-$75, with less- and more-expensive options available depending on materials, size and features.
Espresso tamper FAQ
Why do you need to tamper with coffee grounds when making espresso?
A. Tamping the grounds prevents water from rushing through the cake of grounds too quickly, ensuring the pressurized water filters evenly through the grounds for the richest flavor. Tamping also allows a bit of extra room in your filter so the coffee can expand as it fills with water.
What’s the difference between a coffee tamper and an espresso tamper?
A. The short answer is there is no difference. Espresso is a type of coffee, so you would use the espresso tamper to tamper coffee grounds. But since you don’t use a tamper when brewing coffee, it is a tool exclusive to making espresso.
How do you clean an espresso tamper?
A. Follow specific instructions included with your espresso machine and tamper. Avoid the dishwasher; wash your tamper by hand with warm water, mild soap and a soft cloth.
What type of tamper is best for a beginner?
A. A calibrated espresso tamper can be most helpful if you’re new to espresso machines. The spring-loaded tamper helps create an even and consistent cake of grounds with every shot, so you’re sure to make a flavorful drink each time.
What’s the best espresso tamper to buy?
Top espresso tamper
What you need to know: This high-end calibrated tamper delivers a consistent shot of espresso every time, perfect for beginners and enthusiasts alike.
What you’ll love: The tamper is factory calibrated for 30 pounds of pressure and clicks when complete. A stainless steel base and aluminum handle hold up to wear and tear. It’s available in multiple sizes to fit various espresso machines.
What you should consider: This is a more expensive option, although it is very high quality. If you are already a pro at pulling espresso, you may not need the calibrated base.
Where to buy: Sold by Bed Bath & Beyond
Top espresso tamper for the money
What you need to know: This mid-grade tamper offers about 30 pounds of tamping pressure at an affordable price.
What you’ll love: This tamper is calibrated to give 30 pounds of pressure and has a flat base for an even finish. Stainless steel materials are durable and the ergonomic handle is comfortable. It’s available in multiple sizes.
What you should consider: The tamper doesn’t deliver a perfect result every time but it is close to the recommended range of 20 to 50 pounds of pressure.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Espresso tamper worth checking out
What you need to know: A dual-sided espresso tamper is helpful for various sizes of portafilters, most notably for DeLonghi models.
What you’ll love: This tamper is made with die-cast aluminum. Two ends offer 51 mm and 58 mm tamping sizes. The aluminum resists corrosion from coffee acids. The double-sided espresso tamper is of commercial quality and versatile for use with numerous machines.
What you should consider: To retain its finish, avoid using the dishwasher. Measure your basket before ordering to ensure a proper fit.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Katy Palmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.