tampers3With a custom ROK tamper from Top Shed coming to the Espresso Unplugged store soon, (which we’re all very excited about) I wanted to try out some different bases. I got my hands on a curved and curved/ripple and brewed up a storm.

While I have been using a flat tamper both at home and when working in a cafe, I was interested to see the differences and changes these other types made to my espresso from the ROK.

There’s an age-old question in the coffee world of which is better: The flat, or the curved (convex) tamper base? Many industry professionals offer pros and cons for both types, and the use of convex base tampers seems to be growing in popularity. Some suggest the convex shape improves how evenly the coffee grounds are distributed in the filter basket. They were created to seal the edges of the puck around the perimeter of the basket and to prevent channelling.
I’ve also read that it is better to use a convex tamper base if your portafilter basket tapered inwards, compressing the coffee grounds to the true shape of the basket.

The theory around the ripple base is that the ripple effect provides more surface area for the water to pass through the coffee. On some of the forums over at CoffeeGeek.com, it’s mentioned that the ripples are to encourage ‘controlled channelling’, which in turn creates even initial saturation of the puck as the water pressure builds. Some have even described the end result in their espresso is a sweeter, more pronounced flavour.

With my Tamper play, I didn’t notice any sweeter voicing in the espresso, but after slightly adjusting my grind, certainly found less channelling and more defined ripples in the puck post-extraction. The particular rippled base I used was also slightly curved, so for me, that was the only difference between the two. I’m definitley keen for further testing and experimentation to see if they can improve my shots and end results.
I’d like to get my hands on a base that has a larger curve next.

My personal preference is still for the flat base – whether that is just what I’m used to or that it remains to yield the most consistent results, I’m not sure. I’d be more than happy to convinced otherwise if it means my coffee will be better!

What tamper type do you like to use?

If you’ve tried different kinds, which one do you prefer?