I'm looking to buy my own tamp seeing as how the tamp we have at work gets abused by co-workers who think they know how to tamp but don't... they hit the bottom of the tamp against the portafilter. so it's all dented. any opinions, thoughts, or comments?

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Lots of good online sources for tampers. BUT before you order, try to get your hand on as many as you can... there's a wide variety of handle shapes, pistons, weights, etc and you will like some better than others. Other than that just make sure your piston is the proper diameter for your machine.
Buy a new one and show them the difference between the old and new tamps then go into enforcement mode


Whats enforcement mode? I'm glad you asked.

Enforcement mode: police cafe with a rolled up a newspaper. They whack the tamp you whack their nose.
It is very important you find a tamp that fits YOUR hand and wrist. everyone tamps a little different, and the tamp that fits you will be worth it's weight in gold. I highly recommend going to a place where you can try out different tamps. The place I would go to purchase a tamp would be espressoparts.com; they have a showroom in Olympia, WA. Of course, you are probobly nowhere near Oly, but if you find a tamp you like you can order it through them most likely. At any rate, tamps are an invaluable tool of the trade, as the right one will help you to produce beautiful espresso and will feel right for your hand, wrist, forearm and shoulder. The worst tamp will do the opposite, leading to discomfort of joints and lack of consistency. Take your time finding the right tamp; as long as it is cared for, it can last you longer than any tool. hope that helps!

Byron Betts
Ah Yes,... the old tamp and smack.

Chris/Dale said:
Buy a new one and show them the difference between the old and new tamps then go into enforcement mode


Whats enforcement mode? I'm glad you asked.

Enforcement mode: police cafe with a rolled up a newspaper. They whack the tamp you whack their nose.
For what it's worth, I'm about to buy my first Thor tamper and I'm pretty excited about it. He had some bad luck with his website's pictures a while back, but you can still check them out at:

www.thortamper.com

They aren't really meant for high use, but I'm going to try to be gentle to it and see where it takes me.

-bry
Bryan, those Thor tampers look INCREDIBLE. Let me know what your experience is.

FWIW, a decent stainless steel tamp piston shouldn't even bruise if somebody decides to tap the PF... it'll chew up the soft brass portafilter instead. You might pick up a ding if its dropped just right though. That doesn't mean you shouldn't break out the old newspaper though (also useful if they pee on the carpet when they see your sweet new tamper).

If you don't live near a well-stocked barista tools store, there are a couple of things you might try. Some roasters sell barista gear, and they may have a limited selection of tampers to try. You can also try heading to a local jam and see what people bring. OR check your local roasters' training centers... some run free espresso-related events and they may have some different stuff. I've gotten to use a pretty wide variety of tampers in the past 6 months just from doing the things I just listed (I too am in the market for a new tamper, and want to make sure I get it right).

What part of the country are you in, BTW?
Well, now that I've thought about it, there are a lot of tampers I really like.
Here are some different ones I have tried/owned:

Torr (not Thor): tried, don't own. One amazing looking tamper with great feel
Reg Barber: Owned dozens, loved them all
Espresso Gear Barista: Didn't fit my hand/style right, but I wish it would have
Espro: Not a fan
Bumper: Current workhorse
EPNW Skull Tamp: Current conversation piece on the bar

Still need to get a hold of a Ripple from Reg.

Oh, and don't forget about this one.

:0) You're welcome for that link.

There have been some tamper shootouts in the past that are decent reads. I know coffeegeek did one. Google it... should be easy to find.

-bry

-bry
Personally, I really like the EP5 from espressoparts.com. I also like the EspressoCraft/Espresso Parts tamper. But, ultimately, it's the one that fits your hand best, that's best. I would definitely check out espressoparts.com!
thanks for all of that... it was a huge help.... i think im going to get a ripple tamp also just to try it out, some of my co-workers say it's a bad idea since it's a bad tamp but they've never tried it so they really don't know. but i am pretty excited to get one regardless of what they're saying... and you're right byron i am nowhere near Oly
Kind of off topic, but what do you guys suggest to avoid the whole 'tamp and smack'?
You really just can't go wrong with a Reg Barber. Out of all of the tamps I have used, if I see a RB, I know that the quality and finish are there. That being said, there are a LOT of realllly nice tamps out there.

If your buying your own tamp, just take it home with you when your not working.

The tap on the portafilter is probably the biggest controversy in the barista community ever. no comment.

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