When it comes to coffee, Tamp Espresso rules. It is the mother of most coffee drinks being consumed in most coffee houses. You may not drink it as Espresso due to your own preference in a coffee drink, but I bet you do drink it in one of its derivatives. Whether it’s a cappuccino, a latte, or whatever coffee drink you enjoy, it probably started off as an espresso.

What is Espresso You Ask?

Very good question.

Espresso (pronounced ess-press-oh), is a dark, full-flavored and highly concentrated type of coffee. It is made by forcing a mixture of pressurized hot water and steam through finely ground coffee beans. The word espresso actually means “to press out”. This preparation process is called “pulling a shot”, and as the name suggests, a serving of espresso is called a shot.

Espresso is characterized by a reddish froth that is formed when air bubbles pass through the coffee and mix with the soluble oils in the ground coffee. This froth is called “crema” and is a sign of the quality of coffee beans used and the skills of the barista.

Because of its high concentration, espresso is served in small cups, hence it being called a shot. don’t be fooled though, unlike whiskey or other alcoholic beverages served in shots, espresso is not meant to be gulped down. Despite the size of the serving, it is supposed to be sipped slowly so as to savor and enjoy the fullness of the coffee bean’s flavor.

An interesting fact about espresso that may come as a shock is that it has less caffeine than a regular cup of drip coffee. Yes, less, despite its strength. This is due to the fact that the hot water is quickly pressed through the ground coffee, limiting the time needed to dissolve and extract the caffeine in the ground coffee.

The History of Espresso

Espresso lovers owe their gratitude to an Italian man who went by the name Angelo Moriondo. In 1884, Angelo invented a machine that brewed coffee by passing pressurized steam and water through the coffee. In 1901 the machine was improved by Luigi Bezzera and by 1905, the single shot espresso machine was in production.

Tamp Espresso: A Tasty Art Requiring a Few Tricks Up Your Sleeves 

The main ingredient in brewing the perfect shot of espresso is pressure. This is where tamping comes into play. Tamping is the process of compressing the loose coffee ground into a compact, evenly spread coffee cake (or puck as it is sometimes called). This cake is called a tamp.

To “tamp” your loose coffee grounds, you definitely need an espresso tamper. This is a simple tool used to evenly compress the ground coffee by applying a consistent amount of pressure. To produce the perfect tamp, you will need:

  • A good tamper. Espresso tampers come in all shapes and sizes. You need to pick one that’s a suitable fit for your hand. You can choose between 4 different types of tampers- weight calibrated tamper, dual head tamper, puck tamper (looks like a hockey puck), or a handle tamper (looks like an old-fashioned rubber stamp with a round knob for a handle). Play around with the different tampers, tamper sizes, and tamper configurations to pick one that’s perfect for you. In case you are wondering, you can get a good espresso tamper in the ranges of $10-$30. I know right! That’s a small investment for a lifetime of great tasting espresso. And that in the comfort of your home.
  • Good tamping technique. It’s all in the wrist as the saying goes. And this can’t be truer when it comes to tamping. For that perfect tamp (and for the sake of avoiding injuries), your wrist should be straight when you push down on the tamper with your elbow bent at approximately 90°. Many a barista have been injured due to poor technique. Who knew brewing a cup of coffee could be dangerous?

Tamp Espresso- The Logic Behind the Tamp

As said, the secret to the perfect espresso short is the pressure. Not only the pressure from the water itself, but the pressure of the tamp resisting the water as well. The water is forced through the tamp, extracting the full flavor of the coffee as it passes through. If the tamp is uneven, the water will follow the path of least resistance, leaving rich flavors untapped in the tamp.

Parting Shot

There you have it. The next perfect shot of espresso is in your hands. Join the noble rank of baristas all over the world by perfecting this simple but flavor changing technique of tamping. Here’s to your next shot of homemade tamp espresso. Cheers.

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