realize this is a subjective of a topic as any, but I’d like to see some discussion.
There used to be only one option. Flat base. Most of them were one-piece aluminum or stainless steel, and were not entirely ergonomic, but weren’t all that uncomfortable either. Rarely did they ever fit the basket like a glove.
Now days, we have several options to choose from. There are a wide variety of manufacturers of quality tampers, each with their own ideas.
There is massive range of styles of tamper handles. From skulls to giant sticks. From ergonomic form, to rubber handles. But really, the only part that has any impact on the espresso is the business end. The piston, or base.
(click for larger version)
There are plenty of opinions and ideas about why each is better or worse than the others.
The original style was the flat base. Then came the convex base, now known as “euro curve”.
Then along came the milder “american curve” to serve as a bridge between “flat” and “convex” bases.
Well, Reg Barber decided that this just wasn’t good enough, and designed what he calls the C-Flat base. The ultimate hybrid design. Curved edges, and a flat center.
I have personally done a lot of experimentation with the different tamper styles, and the results are about what one would expect if they felt they had a good intuitive understanding of espresso preparation.
There are also ideas floating around about how the tamper base should be paired with the shape of the shower screen on your espresso machine. For example, if the shower screen is flat, you should get a flat tamper. If the shower screen is curved, you should try to match that curvature with your tamper. A more aggressively curved shower screen needs a euro-curve tamper, a flat shower screen needs a flat tamper, and so on.
There are other ideas going around about how the tamper should be based on whether or not your filterbasket is tapered or straight-walled. The degree of curvature should, in theory, be determined by the degree of inward tapering found in the filterbasket. There is a theory that states that the supposed benefits of a convex tamper base are only applicable if the filterbasket has an inward taper. Unfortunately, the theory doesn’t go into many details, but I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.
I tend to prefer an American Curve base, for all filter basket applications, personally, althought I used a flat base in competition, and I tend to vary between them from time to time, just for taste or observational purposes.
But this blogger is curious. What is your preference? Whare the reasons you think your preferred base is beneficial?
Leave comments below, and let’s get this discussion rolling.