Espresso is all about pressure. The tamper is the human side of the pressure equation.
If you are in the market for a 49mm espresso tamper, you've come to the right place. The only goals of this site are to connect you with the right tamper for your espresso machine and to advocate for 49mm portafilters. Sure, the commercial world has settled on the 58mm tamper, and we're totally fine with that, but 49mm tampers shouldn't have to be second class citizens! This site will identify and connect coffee lovers with the best 49mm tampers sold today.
An espresso tamper is a very simple object: it's a tool, usually made of plastic, metal, wood, or some combination of the three, that applies pressure to the ground coffee once it's placed in a the espresso machine's portafilter basket. A good tamper is sturdy, precise, ergonomic, consistent, and easily cleaned. It does not have to be expensive, stylized, spring-loaded or in any way fancy.
This video is an excellent introduction to espresso tampers:
Importantly, espresso tampers are categorized by their diameter because this determines which portafilter baskets they can be used with, which determines which portafilter can be used, which is determined by your espresso machine. The standard size for professional espresso machines in cafe and other professional environments is 58mm. Some home machines are 58mm, and some aren't. This site is dedicated to 49mm tampers, which are used on a select number of espresso machines, a number of which have built up cult followings over the years.
Here is a list of well-known espresso machines that utilize 49mm tampers. It's not an exhaustive list, but we'll try to cover the big ones. The 49mm size is very popular with lever-action espresso machines in particular.
This is a curated list of espresso tampers that are above $30 but below $100. There are many good options here, but our typical advice is to go cheap and save your cash or really blow it out and buy a top-end model.
|Reg Barber||Wood, Brs, Cpr, SS, Al||$80+||Yes||Reg Barber|
|Espro||Al, SS||$105||Yes||Lowest Price|
Sadly, no major manufacturers yet to produce 49mm espresso distributors or levelers. While distribution tools have gotten quite popular in the espresso community and with 58mm portafilter, they just haven't made their way down to the smaller market of 49mm tampers. The only options in this space is the KafaTek 49mm "Grooming Tool" which is a distributor for 49mm portafilters, but right not it's not available and it retails for over $100. That's a pricey purchase -- if you can even find it -- but if you have a Cremina or Elektra MCal, etc. it's the only game in town!
If you are looking for a handsome wooden tamper, Thor is the go-to name. Wood tampers generally aren't used in professional settings, but many home users have come to love their style, ability to be customized, and hand-made nature. Thor's 49mm models start at $55. In this video we reviwed a tamper with a base of Lignum Vitae (one of the hardest woods in the world) and a grip made of Amboyna Burl, a beautiful and increasingly rare wood. One of the best things about Thor is that they will make a tamper in any size you want, so it can be fit perfectly to your portafilter basket.
When it comes to calibrated (as in spring-loaded) tampers, Espro is the top choice. Yes, there other other companies selling these, but Espro is the official brand associated with the technology. You'll pay a hefty price for their track record of success and pioneering engineering, but the tamper's flawless reviews should be a good indicator of the quality and reliability of what you are getting. The simple fact that it lets you essentially remove one big variable from espresso making is a huge benefit. Plus, wow, that click just feels so right!.
If you are looking for an affordable, calibrated tamper then LuxHaus is just about the best game in town. Yes, it appears to be a clone of the excellent Espro tamper, but at $30 vs. the Espro's $100, it's hard to argue with the virtures of the LuxHaus. The downsides of this tamper are the grindy feel when applying the pressure (though it should get smoother over time) and the fact that the base is 49.0mm, not our preferred 49.4mm. At about 370 grams the tamper is surprisingly heavy and well-built. The aestetics are surprisingly nice, but it can feel somewhat top-heavy, which throws off the looks a bit and might lead to a drop if you aren't careful.
If you are looking for an affordable 49mm tamper for your lever espresso machine and you don't want to break the bank, than look no further than the Orphan Espresso HLE IIT. This minimalist tamper comes in multiple handle shapes and colors, but all offer excellent value and superb accuracy. The tamper has a flat, stainless steel bottom. This tamper is the perfect example of a simple, effective design that gets the job done.
When considering a tamper, here are the attributes to keep in mind:
There has been some confusion about this online, but it's worth pointing out, for sure, that the Rok manual espresso press uses a 49mm portafilter basket and thus a 49mm tamper. The most exacting home baristas online have pointed out that the size is exactly 49.7mm, but this means any 49mm tamper will work with the Rok. Just make sure not to buy a 51mm or 50mm -- those will be too big for your basket! This 49.6mm tamper is perfect for the Rok and will nicely match its finish.
Here at 49mm Tamper we recommend a flat base tamper with no patterns on it. It's nice to think that a convex base or some clever patterns will improve your espresso, but we simply haven't found that to be true. Save your money and save your time testing -- a flat-based espresso tamper is simpler, cheaper, and easier to store. Ultimately the difference between flat and convex will be extremely minor (if present at all!), so recommend you just don't worry about this variable. Espresso is hard enough already!
Yes, this is a site about 49mm tampers, but you might need some help with a buying a new 49mm portafilter as well. Here are some tips to get you started, just keep in mind your options are limited!
Quick tip: these are the same thing! Coffee people tend to call espresso "coffee" since, after all, espresso is just another type of coffee drink. You would never tamper down coffee in the normal prepartion of a standard coffee drink so a "coffee tamper" isn't generally something you'd needed. Ground espresso is always tamped before being put in the espresso machine so "espresso tamper" is the more common, and the more precise, term. That said, some people do call it a coffee tamper and that makes perfect sense but just keep in mind that you are tamping the coffee in order to make espresso!
The tampers we talk about on on this site are generally known as espresso tampers. As noted, some people call them coffee tampers while still other call them hand tampers. What's the deal? Hand tampers are largely a regional distinction and not that common in the US. The tamper is placed in and operated with your hand, so it's not an altogether bizarre term. In fact the term "hand tamper" has gotten more interesting with the growth of automatic espresso tampers, like the Puqpress, which are actual machines that do the tamping for you (perfectly every time). Automatic coffee tampers are the definition of equipment built for the cafe environment and almost always used by professional baristas, so they are designed to work with professional machines... which means they are usually automatic 58mm tampers. No auto tamper is currently sold in a 49mm variety.
Yes, this site is about 49mm coffee tampers, but we understand that information about quality coffee and espresso great is extremely limited, so you might have arrived trying to learn about your 50mm portafilter or to find the best 50mm tamper. This section is for you!
What espresso machines use a 50mm portafilter? Breville uses 50mm at times, including with the Duo-Temp 800ESXL, Infuser BES830XL, Cafe Roma ESP8XL, Cafe Modena ESP6SX, and BES820XL, but this is a relatively rare size and probably not what you are looking for! So don't buy unless you are sure -- 51mm portafilters are much more popular.
51mm portafilter baskets are used by La Pavoni Millenium machines, replacing the Pre-Millenium 49mm parts. These machines include the La Pavoni Europiccola Millennium. 51mm is generally seen as a workable solution to the La Pavoni 51mm basket but it can be a bit snug of a fit. Other espresso machines that use 51mm parts include the DeLonghi Dedica EC680 (though people tend to recommended 52mm tampers for this one), Krups Espresso Bravo Plus, Mr Coffee ECMP50, and the Delonghi EC155.
Our thoughts? If you are here for a 50mm tamper you might want to go through your research again (or email us and tell us we're wrong!), unless you are downsizing from a 51mm La Pavoni. And don't forget, you can always just measure your portafilter basket and buy what's going to fit! If you do want a 50mm tamper or a 51mm tamper, here are some ideas.
If you have a modern (post-2000) La Pavoni then you are looking for a 51.0mm tamper. Some people opt to size up for 51.1mm, but we'd recommend a 51.0 model.
There are a lot of options in the 51mm size (see above) but you can't go wrong with a Reg Barber or the very popular Luxhaus calibrated tamper. That said, there are a surprising number of tampers sold in this size (even more than in 49mm!) so finding what you are looking for shouldn't be too hard.
If you are looking for a great tamper for a Pre-Millenium La Pavoni machine, then you are going to want to go with a 49.6mm model. This video clearly demonstrates the improvement when upgrading from a budget 49.0mm tamper up to a 49.6mm Reg Barber. The espresso puck is much cleaner, with no spillover or "flashing" around the tamping area. The grinds go in the pressed puck and nothing spills out. Apply even pressure and you can be sure that you'll get a great shot with no channeling and a nice smooth flow.