blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Kinesthetic Candy: One pound of shiny red happiness

Life as a barista is incomplete without a hand-made Reg Barber tamper. Tamping is the linchpin of the espresso process. It's the moment when the barista infuses the most amount of energy, intention and intelligence into the coffee. During the tamp, the barista uses his or her body's knowledge and experience to determine how much pressure to apply, the angle at which to apply it, the degree of wrist twist to employ and how long the tamp should last. Whew! Thank goodness baristas can use their kinesthetic sense to do all this rather than actually thinking about all those things, otherwise the whole process would take an hour rather than a fraction of a second. The goal of the tamp is to align the coffee particles in the portafilter basket, forming a uniformly packed dense matrix, ready for brewing.

When using a heavy tamper, especially one of these shiny red ones with the Phoenix logo :) your espresso pours will be more consistent due to better tamping. Why? That's a good question. I wish I could analyze this, to break it down into a reason why I think this is true. All I can say is that it just feels better to use a heavy tamper, it feels like the coffee particles are aligning more uniformly. All my years of experience using inferior tampers told me that I was really missing something the first time I used a heavier tamper. And then, when I used one of Reg's tampers, I knew there really was a difference. The proof is this... a few days after I brought one of Reg's tampers to the Lee Road Phoenix, Sasha, one of our baristas, began raving about how much better her shots poured with the new tamper. She said they were "beautiful" with this new tamper. They should have been beautiful before, too, but let's just go with the intention she had for the sake of discussion.... she noticed that the shots were better.

When you're accustomed to cheapo flimsy plastic or aluminum tampers, a hand-made stainless steel tamper with a powder coated handle is a morsel of kinesthetic candy every time you brew an espresso.

Check out the phoenix coffee website where you can buy one of these beauties and try it for yourself.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's our hand-made Reg Barber tamper?

-Downtown Barista's

10:29 AM, July 21, 2006  

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