Poor tamping technique leads to channeling, uneven extraction, and a suboptimal shot of espresso. Not to mention leaving your baristas with sore wrists at the end of a busy shift. The right tamper can alleviate all that—but there are so many to choose from. What’s a cafe owner to do?
We tapped into our network of professional baristas and asked them just that. The result? A list of the five best tampers on the market.
We also covered:
- The clash of the titans: Manual vs automatic tampers
- How to pick the right espresso tamper for your business—whatever the size
- How to leverage the power of ergonomics and spare your baristas' wrists
By the end of this article you’ll be a bona fide tamper expert. Let’s get right to it.
How To Choose The Right Espresso Tamper For Your Business
What are the different types of tamper, and why does it matter? Well, there are a lot of tampers on the market—some are better for businesses with small volume, others for large. The same goes for your counter space too. Before you make that purchase, you need to consider the following:
- Manual vs Automatic. The repetitive motion of tamping causes a lot of barista injuries. A study by Wilfrid Laurier University published in Ergonomics journal found that 68% of baristas reported shoulder pain and 73% lower back pain. Automatic tampers reduce the physical strain—but they’re more expensive.
- Flat vs Convex. This refers to the shape of the tamper base. The goal of tampers is to create a perfectly even surface for optimal coffee extraction. With that in mind, flat base tampers are easy to use but water can sometimes channel between the puck and the basket—leading to inefficient extraction. Convex tampers have a rounded base that prevents this, but the convex base means applying pressure evenly is harder.
- Tamper Size. Espresso tampers usually come in 58mm and 57mm options. This one is a no-brainer: just get the tamper in the size that fits your espresso machine’s portafilters, and you’re set.
Your biggest dilemma is manual vs automatic tamper. That comes down to the amount of money you’re willing to invest in your coffee business, and also your attitude to technology—some businesses prefer manual tamping as it gives espresso a more human touch. But it’s hard to deny the consistency and ergonomic value of automatic coffee tampers.
No matter which of these tampers you end up going with, make sure to reach out about wholesale discounts if you're a coffee business!
The 5 Best Espresso Tampers for Baristas and Coffee Shops
1. Best All-Around Espresso Tamper for Cafes: Compressore Professional Espresso Tamp
The Compressor (Italian for tamper) Professional has an aluminum handle attached to a stainless steel base to give baristas an ideal mass ratio and create a sensation of balance.
This is a flexible offering, coming in flat or convex, in both 58mm and 57mm sizes. The walnut finish is sourced from FSC-certified producers. It also comes in Bocote (a decorative wood from Mexico with eye-catching patterns) and Wenge (a durable type of African hardwood).
“Best bang for your buck by far! Using it for my home machine currently but used a similar one at cafes I worked at. Good heft to it and the wood looks nice.” — Scott Jones
This tamper is an excellent all-around piece of equipment with a solid ergonomic handle. The classic design and more than reasonable price make this suitable for any cafe and any bar layout.
2. Best for High Volume Shops PUQPress Q2 Gen 5 Automatic Tamper
Running a high-volume business? Worried about your barista’s ergonomics? Consider the PUQpress automatic tamper. Automatic tampers guarantee perfect pucks and precisely level tamp day-in, day-out. That means improved drink quality across the board and a highly reduced risk of human error.
This model features:
- Non-stick tamper finish to save on coffee ground waste
- Tamping profiles (slow down the flow rate or speed it up according to the recipe you’re serving)
- Works with all types of portafilters—even bottomless
- Warranty guarantees that it can execute 300+ tamps daily or 1 million+ in two years
The PUQPress also has models that can sit underneath popular espresso grinders—great for saving space on a crowded bar. You can check those models out right here.
“We are madly in love with the PUQ. As an owner/trainer it has taken away the stress of wondering if everyone was tamping consistently, including myself. PUQ has taken us to a whole new level of creating awesome espressos.” — Ray Reck
3. The Force Tamper: Best for Manual Tamping Consistency
There are two main issues with tampers—maintaining a consistent pressure (usually 25lb to 30lb is recommended) and a level tamp. When your baristas have been working a long shift, that pressure can vary. Luckily for us, the Force Tamper solves both these problems.
It does so by calibrating the amount of force each barista is using. What that means is you hear a click when sufficient pressure is applied. It’s still a manual tamper, but it ensures everyone is using the same pressure across the board.
“Love the consistent tamping. The leveling/distributing is a nice bonus.” – Ryan
The Force Tamper also always baristas to change the travel distance of the tamper i.e. how far the tamper moves out of the base when it’s leveling the puck. That makes for better leveling across drinks.
The pressure is also fully adjustable for whatever type of recipe you’re serving. It comes in a 58mm size and has an adjustable base and handles for barista comfort. If you’re looking for a halfway between manual and automatic tampers, this is it.
4. PUQPress Mini Automatic Tamper: Best for Small-Footprint Efficiency
Space can come at a premium. The PUQpress Mini is designed to give you the same consistency and professionalism at half the size. It can handle around 100 tamps a day—making it suitable for small-volume cafes or office setups.
Some of its more unique features are:
- Super small footprint, coming in at 8’6” high and 4’9” deep
- Works with spouted, single or bottomless portafilters
- Automatic tamper equals flat and consistent tamps every time
- Auto-pressure adjust between 20-60lbs
- Cleaning button lets do clear away coffee residence and guarantee proper hygiene with ease
- Three different tamper modes (speedy, single, and precise)
The small size does come at a cost—it’s not the fastest tamper in the world. If you need more than 100 tamps a day, check out some of their other models.
5. Rubber-Gripped Barista Basics Tamper: Best for the Butter-Fingered Barista
Don’t drop the tamp—or do, with rubber-gripped Barista Basics Tamper from EspressoParts. This flat tamper comes in 57mm and 58mm sizes, with a silicone rubber-coated aluminum handle. The handle has a textured grip to improve comfort and keep it where it belongs i.e. in your hands.
“Works and looks as it should. Good finish.” Virgil Campbell
It weighs in at a sleek 431 grams and has a steel base that contrasts with the aluminum handle to give the best balance possible. Plus it's great value for money, at only $50.
“Great service! I called in and they told me the size of Tamper I needed and it arrived in no time. Thanks again!” — Serenity
Best All-Around Espresso Tamper For Cafes
Best For High Volume Shops
Best For Manual Tamping Consistency
Best For Small-Footprint Efficiency
Best For The Butter-Fingered Barista
Get The Best Tampers And More, With Espresso Parts Wholesale Discount
These tampers have been tried and tested in coffee businesses of all sizes, and we’re confident you’ll find the right tamper for your situation in this article.
But a quality tamper is only part of the puzzle—you probably need everything from espresso machines and grinders to espresso shot glasses and knock boxes. All of that can add up, which is why we offer a wholesale buyers account.
Wholesale buyers get the best bulk pricing we can offer, along with other benefits like special pricing, plus supply chain and warehousing capabilities. Want to restock your cafe? Or open a new one from scratch? Sign up for our wholesale account today.
What Are The Parts Of An Espresso Tamper?
Manual espresso tampers consist of a handle and a base. The base is the part of the tamper that actually touches the coffee grinds in the filter basket or portafilter, and is often flat or convex. The metal or wooden handle is the part the barista holds.
How Hard Should I Tamp Espresso?
Most baristas recommend somewhere between 20 to 30 pounds of pressure, though overall, consistency is more important than strength. Beware of tamping too hard—it can cause injuries and lead to over-extracted espresso.
What Size Tamper Do I Need?
Get the right size for your portafilter. That usually means 57mm or 58mm.