But what really makes the difference is another operation, the pressing of the coffee, called tamping: in fact, an expert barista knows exactly how to regulate the pressure applied in this action.
Besides the raw materials – which must be good quality – a balanced drink, pleasing to the nose and palate is also the result of an expert hand.
So let’s see what advice we should be following and what errors to avoid during the coffee tamping.
Why is correct coffee tamping necessary?
Coffee powder should be treated in the correct way, in all the phases that lead to the extraction of the espresso: starting from the correct storing of the beans and their grinding, which is necessary to obtain the powder to insert in the portafilter, every step is fundamental and guarantees the quality of the final result.
What makes even more difference is the pressing or tamping: this is required to compact the coffee powder, making it almost into a single block, so that it can resist the flow of hot water that comes from the machine.
The work of a barista is all a question of dexterity and experience, and it is necessary to practice for a while before you can tamp the coffee in the best way: the coffee powder must not fill the portafilter completely, but an empty space should be created between the surface of the coffee and the water dispenser.
Furthermore, the correct tamping means that the coffee does not separate into granules when the water passes through it, thus preventing the drink from being weak and with little flavor.
Coffee tamping: how to do it correctly
Coffee tamping should be done with the right equipment, which in this case is called a tamper.
This is a quite heavy metal object, with a convenient handle.
It should be exactly the right size for the filter used, because if the tamper is too small it is not possible to compact the coffee adequately.
Naturally, for this operation to be a success, it is important to use the right quantity of coffee (7 g for one single cup and 14 g for two), ground in the right way.
So let’s take a look at the right steps to follow for correct coffee tamping:
● with the coffee grinder-doser, fill the portafilter with the amount of coffee you require, freshly ground;
● hit the portafilter against the palm of your hand, to even out the level of the coffee;
● rest the portafilter on a mat, which will buffer the hit and prevent the dispensers below from being damaged;
● using the tamper, press the coffee lightly, holding the tool perfectly straight, perpendicular to the portafilter;
● press the coffee a second time: the pressure applied should be the equivalent of around 15-20 kg. How can this pressure be calculated?
One simple way is to try out your pressure on a set of scales, pretending to press the coffee in the filter;
● finish off the operation with the polishing, in other words, turning the tamper in the filter to give the surface of the coffee that classic shiny look;
● using a clean, dry cloth or sponge, remove any coffee residues remaining around the edges of the portafilter, to avoid damaging the seals of the espresso machine;
● attach the portafilter to the machine and exact the drink.
What errors should be avoided in tamping the coffee?
Although the tamping is a crucial step in producing a good espresso, actually doing it correctly is not as difficult as it may seem.
There are however, some errors that should be avoided:
● first of all, do not apply more force than is necessary: if you push the tamper too hard, you risk pressing the ground coffee unevenly.
Applying too much pressure and with a hurried action, it is difficult to hold the tamper perfectly straight.
● Be delicate in removing the tamper from the portafilter, so as to limit any spillage of coffee powder and not damage the surface of that inside the filter.
This is the advice from the experts at Filicori Zecchini.
Were you familiar with the secrets for the perfect coffee tamping?