This post was updated on: December 14, 2019
Tamping the coffee grounds is an art spoken often during the tutorials and in blogs. In fact, tamping the coffee grounds is the prime factor which results in perfect extraction. Tamping is hence, the art and science of filling the portafilter tight enough with the coffee grounds which allows water to pass out from the spout only after the coffee blends in it uniformly.
Getting an espresso machine with a tamper can be expensive and worthless for domestic use as far as you learn the easy art of tamping coffee using hand tamper.
Coffee Suitable for Tamping
Tamping is not the task you will have to do while brewing coffee by any of the brewing methods but the Espresso! The definition of espresso itself states the importance of tamping.
A coffee brewing process which channels the hot water through the tightly packed fine coffee grounds in the shape of a puck in the portafilter by applying pressure.
This process extracts the coffee taste, qualities, aroma of the coffee grounds which blends in the flowing water, which becomes espresso after the extraction. Hence, the liquid you receive after brewing is the espresso in its purest form.
By the way, when the definition says the coffee-puck, it means the tightly packed coffee grounds in the portafilter. There the tamping coffee grounds using the tamper finds its importance.
As the matter of fact, making espresso tamp is only possible by using the finely ground coffee beans of any roast type depending on your preference(dark roasts are best for espresso).
Importance of Tamping
Tamping minimizes the air voids inside the portafilter after the coffee filter is filled with grounds. That is the reason, we need coffee as fine grounds to avail voids as little as measuring in the range of micrometers. Coarsely grounds coffee will not clog water sufficient enough which will result in under extraction.
Additionally, tamping the finely ground coffee more or less than required will also lead to over-extraction or underextraction respectively. In fact, tamping too hard can lead to overloading the extraction pump or the boiler along with reducing their working life.
Tamp Coffee – The Right Way
There are many ways one can go wrong brewing the coffee especially when we consider tamping the grounds in the portafilter. This is the only difference differentiating a professional Barista and a regular brewer, the professional baristas have mastered to manage the extraction timing and tamping the grounds.
Moreover, Baristas will suggest using the pressure gauge while learning to tamp the coffee in a portafilter. Now, it is up to you if you want to tangle up the learning process with the laboratory apparatus! On the other hand, we can teach you the perfect method to learn to tamp without engaging in any hassle.
How Hard to Tamp Espresso?
First things first, you need to learn the right method to fill the portafilter with coffee grounds.
1. Fill the Portafilter with Coffee Grounds
Starting with the first step, you shall fill the portafilter with coffee grounds without shaking or snapping on the hard surface. You can use the tamping mat to place the tamper while filling the grounds in it. Mat will dampen the unnecessary shocks reaching to the portafilter. However, you can proceed without the mat by keeping the portafilter free from even the minute shocks.
2. Distribute the Grounds Perfectly in the Portafilter
Thereafter, you should uniformly distribute the grounds in the portafilter using the index finger without applying any pressure. The surface of the grounds and the top face of the portafilter should coincide.
3. Use the Tamper to Tamp Coffee
Finally, you shall use the best tamper for tamping espresso. Remember getting the tamper similar to the size of the portafilter. There are many types of tamper to choose the best for your machine.
Remember, knowing how hard to tamp espresso is not as important as tamping vertically making homogeneous coffee puck with uniform microvoids. However, the microvoids will not be visible with the naked eye.
Now, you are good to start brewing the espresso by tamping the coffee grounds tightly in the portafilter. Also, you start tamping right off without thinking much about tamping hard but keeping in mind about the consistent microvoids.