How hard should I tamp the ground coffee beans?

While this is a very common question I get, it is by no means a really important factor to consider when making coffee at home when compared to bean freshness, dose size, grinding etc. At Black Market Roasters, we have experimented with many different tamp pressures and styles and on a minute scale it makes a large difference, in reality we just need to be consistent.

When making espresso, there is a real need to be consistent with certain things as there are many variables in the coffee making process. If we can lock in some of the processes, then we can control a few of the variables.

How to tamp

  1. Make sure you start with an appropriate and consistent dose amount which is right for the size of the basket [Grounds]
  2. Level the coffee grounds out with your finger inside the basket so that there is no air pockets and they sit nice and uniformly in the basket (this is important if you want the water to extract through the coffee bed evenly)
  3. Place the coffee handle (portafilter) on a bench, prepare your coffee tamp, grabbing the tamp with your whole palm and not just your fingers (to minimise injury), apply a slight downward pressure, flat onto the coffee bed, just to create and even surface from which you will begin to tamp [Even] (Make sure your tamp is very even at this point, a slight deviation to one side, can man a bad extraction and bad quality in the cup)
  4. Now, moving into the tamp, hold your elbow at 90 degrees to your forearm, exerting the pressure from your shoulder, weight on your front foot, keeping your tamp completely flat, push into the coffee bed with your body weight and hip, not your wrist. This might seem silly, though if you use your wrist, you can injure it, but MORE importantly, you may slightly twist the angle of your tamp affecting the coffee bed [Tamp]
  5. After you push down with your body weight, leave the tamp in the portafilter so you can cross check what you have just done. Get your eyes down to the height of the portafilter and look at how level the tamp sits in relation to your portafilter. This gives you a good idea whether you are tamping evenly or not. We like to use a thumb on the side where our fingers are not, to ensure an even pressure right around the tamp.
  6. Remove the tamp and put into the coffee machine group head and start the extraction!

Well done! This may seem technical, though these instructions are what all my barista’s go through when training in my espresso bar in Sydney. At Black Market Roasters, we are committed to providing freshly roasted coffee online and quality information to educate all home barista’s. If you have any questions or suggestions for a blog post, email me If you click through to the Beans page, we have a unique range of blends and single origins that we offer for your home coffee machines. We roast fresh coffee beans to order and deliver them to your house. We research, source, roast and deliver some of the world’s most exotic, unique and amazing coffee beans from all over the globe!