Coffee Facts

Why you need a tamper for better espresso shots

by Lucia Liang on Aug 11, 2023

Why you need a tamper for better espresso shots

Even Steven

Certainly, we have all had one of those shots of espresso. You know! The ones that taste too sour or too burnt or too bitter or too much this or not enough that! One doesn't need to be a coffee cupping expert or barista to know when a shot of espresso just isn't right. Sometimes the problem with too sour or odd-tasting espresso is a simple fix. Sometimes the problem is just a matter of evening out one espresso grinds. Well, today we will take a closer look at how one can ensure their espresso grinds are always on the even track, with an espresso grinds tamper! Let's learn a bit more about the tamper and why you should add it to your own espresso arsenal.


What is a tamper?

Though deceptively simple looking, a tamper is a very important item. Usually, it looks sort of like a stamp, and it more or less functions the same as one too, at least in the sense that it is used to push down on things! Many tampers feature round faces with a handle on the back, again, akin to a stamp. They serve the important role of pushing down on your grounds to ensure they are evenly flat and tightly packed into their espresso puck form. 

The way a tamper is used is super simple and a user-friendly item for sure. Once you have measured, ground, and added your coffee grinds to your portafilter, your tamper can come into play. Just simply use your tamper to press down on your coffee grinds to flatten them, and push out any air pockets that may hinder an ideal espresso shot from being pulled. Some may be wondering why a spoon or other utensils cannot simply be used instead. That is because the spoon's shape is not conducive to following along with the portafilter's unique shape. A tamper is made to fit a portafilter exactly, while a spoon will only cause an uneven tamping down of your espresso grinds. Using a spoon, though seemingly convenient, is a good way to make your grinds uneven and can lead to a less-than-perfect shot of espresso!


Why do you need a tamper?

Now a tamper is important because it directly affects the quality of your espresso pulls. By ensuring your grounds are tightly and evenly packed into the portafilter you are making sure the quality of your shots improves too. If your grinds are uneven or there are air pockets or bubbles then your pulls will taste and smell bizarre. Perhaps too sour or too burnt.


The tamper- a simple yet imperative tool

The tamper is a key item to add to your coffee arsenal. By ensuring your grinds are tightly, evenly, and completely packed you can have better control over the quality and consistency of your espresso shots. In case your shots are coming out a bit too sour, a bit too burnt, or just offering up a flavor that seems off, then add a tamper to your coffee tool kit. That way you can even things out and only pull the best shots! Happy brewing and be sure to add a tamper to your coffee tool kit today.


Works Cited

  • “Barista Tips: The Espresso Tamper.” Serious Eats, Accessed 9 Aug. 2023.
  • “Why Is a Tamper so Important in Making Espresso?” The Spruce Eats, Accessed 9 Aug. 2023.
  • “What Is Tamping and Why Is It Necessary?” The Coffee Chronicler, 21 Dec. 2021,


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