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Barista’s Guide To Automatic Tamping with Gwilym Davies

Barista’s Guide To Automatic Tamping with Gwilym Davies


(snare beat playing) – Hey guys, it’s Aleš from
European Coffee Trip, and I just finished a delicious espresso
at Můj Šálek Kávy in Prague. And in this video, we’ll
look into one aspect of espresso preparation, and that’s tamping. (guitar music playing) For years, choosing the tamper
and learning how to tamp was a crucial step into making consistently excellent espressos. We even made a video about it
with our friend Gwilym Davies. He taught the right and simple technique to hundreds of baristas around the world. But now, he doesn’t like to do it anymore. He much prefers automatic tampers, and, since we’ve never
worked behind a bar, we decided to visit him in his training center and ask him for more. (funky beat playing) – I’ve been using these hand
tampers now for 19 years. Before this, I was using a little piece of plastic attached to
a grinder for one year. I love them. I have my favorites, I
have far too many of them. But, I don’t really use them that often these days, to be honest. I’ve definitely fallen in
love with automatic tamping. (funky music continuing) Reasons? Well, it’s faster, it’s more consistent, yes, we know that. But it’s more than that. I like the idea that the conversation about tamping has gone away. No longer do I have to
stand working in a cafe, arguing or discussing
different tamping techniques. I can now concentrate on
much more important things. (espresso machine parts clinking) Bringing Puqpress into
Prufrock, it was very early on when we first came across
Puqpress, and it had to be tested first, because we’re
not gonna put anything in that’s gonna change the workflow
without testing it first. So there was Michael
Cameron, in Australia. I did a short one myself,
and then Prufrock, and all three tests said it was more consistent than a barista. It was faster than a barista,
so yeah, it went on board. And then, it’s strange
for baristas sometimes, like it takes a few
hours to get used to it, and then once you’ve tried it, you don’t really want to go back again. Is it taking away the craft? (Gwilym laughing) I’m a barista trainer, and
I actually earn my money from teaching people
how to tamp with these, and I don’t want to do it anymore. I really don’t want to teach
people how to tamp with these. One: I know it’s not great for their health if they’re in a busy cafe. And the second is, it takes
too much time and correction when it’s much easier to just teach them how to use an automatic tamper. I don’t think they’re
gonna get great life skills out of learning how to use one of these. I’d rather teach them something that’s gonna be much more
relevant to them and their life. I think it’s fear, really. Fear that somebody’s taking
their job away, their craft. But really, that isn’t the craft. That is not the craft. That is not the craft. Pouring latte art is craft, that’s good. Calibrating the grinder and knowing how to taste it, that’s the craft. Communicating to the
customer, that’s craft, but. That isn’t craft. So my normal routine is grind, (machine grinding) vertical distribution, dak dak, check the weight, horizontal distribution, nice and level, in the Puqpress, wipe, in, boom. When people try it for the first time, they’re always shocked, because they put it in the
Puqpress, and they think, “What do I do now?” They’re stood there for
a moment, it’s like, “Oh! I just put it in the
machine, press the button.” It’s done. It’s like, yeah, ’cause
you’re thinking it’s too easy. Duh, duh. (laughing) Yeah, there’s definitely
disadvantages of being a barista and only using the Puqpress because what happens if the Puqpress breaks? It’s like, do you know
how to use one of these? Do you know what sort of tamper to use? Would you tamp twice, because
my Puqpress tamps twice when you don’t need to tamp twice. It’s like, yeah, a
barista should know this, but I would say this is becoming more of an advanced skill than
a basic skill in some ways. Also, you can’t just use a Puqpress and expect it to be perfect. You have to clean it. You have to give a
little brush underneath. And you have to make sure
that it’s set correctly. If it’s not set correctly,
it’ll consistently give you a tamp that isn’t straight. (lo-fi music playing) Okay, to set it up, the
first, the easiest bit to set up is the tamping pressure. Now you can easily change that here by increasing the tamping pressure or decreasing the tamping pressure. I keep it on the lowest level, 10, because I don’t want people to use a hand tamp with a
higher pressure than 10. So I just keep the automatic
tamper on 10 as well to prove that it’s fine, it’s okay. Second thing is a little
bit more difficult. What you want is the forks to be set so there is very little
movement here, so it slides in. Now, this is a little bit too loose, but I use two different machines, and I use different (brush clanging over Gwilym)
filters. So what I do is, there’s
a little bit extra room and I just keep my hand loose,
and it seems to tamp flat. If I was in a cafe, I’d have this a little bit closer, and it’s easy enough. Take off the top, turn it upside-down, put in a little piece of paper, grab this, which actually comes
with it, which is perfect, and you adjust the size of the forks so that it fits in nicely. So I’ve put in a little piece of paper across here, tighten it up,
and then just leave it alone. So very easy to set up,
not like rocket science. The price of a Puqpress is
actually a bit of a disadvantage. It’s quite an investment for some cafes. Especially if you’re making
less than 250 coffees a day, you might not be able
to afford a Puqpress. So yeah, use the tamper. But once you start getting busier than about 250, I would definitely be thinking of changing over to a Puqpress. It’s kind of end of the discussion. We used this, we were obsessed with them, I still love them, I like using them. But it’s done. It’s finished. We don’t need to discuss
about tamping anymore. You put it in the machine,
you clean the machine, you make sure it’s straight, you put it in the espresso
machine, press the button, get on with the important part of the job. Spending time talking and focusing on tamping, it’s gone now. There’s much more important things to do. We’ve gone up. We’ve gone up in our evolution. It’s time to stop talking about tamping. There’s not really much to say. Oh, another question people ask is, “Why does it tamp two times?” It’s like, “I don’t know
why it tamps two times.” (Gwilym laughing) – [Aleš] It’s not important, right? – I don’t think it’s that important, but it works, so I don’t worry about it. Don’t tamp two times with your
hand tamper, once is enough. Don’t go wasting, or doubling
the amount of effort.

14 thoughts on “Barista’s Guide To Automatic Tamping with Gwilym Davies

  1. Exciting with the countdown, especially when its followed up with good content! Thanks as always, but those poor tampers having to sit there while Gwilym speaks of their imminent doom haha

  2. When Chris Baca tested the Puqpress back in the days there was a problem with suction. The pucks just fell out of the Portafilters when you turned them around. Is that still an issue?

  3. I really like the idea, but so far I’ve been having this static problem, on some cases it’s taking away up to one gram of coffee ground. Is it still happening?

  4. How about some decent push tamper, hmm? 10x cheaper, and not that worse, hmm? And with OCD or chisel you can have total consistency among bar crew

  5. I'm a recent convert to not tamping at all anymore. Now just using the re-distribution/chisel tool and that's it. No more tamping. Better, more consistent shots. I'm a convert.

  6. Dude…get another presenter or start using subtitles. I'm only getting about half of what you're attempting to express in English.

  7. I guarantee that in a blind taste test, no one would ever be able to reliably distinguish between espresso tamped by a machine, by a barista, or by a monkey. The automatic tamping machine is good for one thing only: separating the gullible from their money.

  8. Yeah let's stop talking about tamping… Maybe we can even stop talking about baristas and start talking about fully automated machines… Am I the only one that gets in a bar and enjoys finding the very slight differences in taste between one time and another due to human variables?

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