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DavecUK

Coffee Leveller and Tamper

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Well I finally succumbed for my birthday. You can read my thoughts on it here.

https://coffeeequipmentreviews.wordpress.com/2019/05/23/coffee-leveller-tamper/

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So far i always did tamp after leveling, but i will definitely try now to unscrew it all the way down and not to tamp afterwards :)


Gaggia Classic 2010 PID(IMS 200µm shower screen&Brass Dispersion Plate&OPV&Steam Wand Modded) | Kinu M47 V3 Niche Zero | Bottomless Portafilter&VST Ridgeless 15gr and 18gr | Decent Tamper V2 | MouMou 58mm Distribution Tool | 2X 64oz Airscapes & CoffeeVac

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Happy birthday


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home - Sage dual boiler & Compak E8

work - Sage bambino plus & smart grinder

 

@SkateReclaimCreate

 

 

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4 minutes ago, joey24dirt said:

Happy birthday emoji106.png


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At my age, I only care if I get a present! 😜

11 minutes ago, Inspector said:

So far i always did tamp after leveling, but i will definitely try now to unscrew it all the way down and not to tamp afterwards :)

I was also thinking I would need to tamp, but surprised myself by getting a better pour by adjusting the depth of the device and letting it do the work.

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3 hours ago, DavecUK said:

Well I finally succumbed for my birthday. You can read my thoughts on it here.

https://coffeeequipmentreviews.wordpress.com/2019/05/23/coffee-leveller-tamper/

 

Enjoyed reading about your thoughts on the distribution tool / tamper.

Mrs M bought me a stock black Motta 58mm distribution tool as a birthday present earlier this year from BellaBarista. I confess to being a little sceptical about using it at first, but it has now become a part of our daily coffee making ritual and hopefully adds another layer of consistency to the process.

I still finish with a flat base tamper afterwards, but this has become more of a polish than with any real pressure being exerted - not entirely sure what this brings to the cup, I guess some old habits die hard.

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Here is an interesting twist. After I posted on my review site, someone contacted me to say that I was turning it in the wrong direction. I was interested as I agree the coffee rakes look as if it should be turned anticlockwise, but that seems very unintuitive.  Turning clockwise feels more natural and when I first used it I remember looking at the rakes and thinking about which way to turn it. I chose clockwise because I felt the gentle slopes would shift distribute and pack the coffee nicely leaving a nice polished and level coffee bed. It certainly worked well that way.

I just tried turning antclockwise and 2 things happened.

 

1. The coffee bed was left with 3 little mounds, so I had to polish by finishing anti-clockwise.

2. The rakes trapped a little bit of coffee in each edge of the leveller, which I didn't like

I also feel that racking across with a "hard" edge, rather than a soft slope, may not deliver the effect required. Yes it will physically rake a few mm of coffee around. Turning clockwise would seem to actually bear down on the coffee in a way that seems more likely to move the coffee under it in a more homogenous way but that's just my best guess.

I then went in search of Videos for how to use these things and to me they appear to be turning it the same way as me. Sure some have 4 rakes instead of 3, but the principle is the same?

 

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Didn't realise until seeing the videos that the numbers of rakes on the underside of the tools varied, I wonder if the vast majority for sale have 3 instead of 4 rakes. Being a very old sceptic maybe it has something to do with standing out in the marketplace. I don't know enough about the physics of the process to definitively comment.

Interesting to see in both videos the tamping procedure still follows on from using the distribution tool. 

I tried rotating the tool  in both directions when using it for the first time and there seemed a far better feel and look to the coffee bed with the rotation in the clockwise direction.

Incidentally, I seem to occasionally get some small quantities of ground coffee adhering to the polished surface of the tool, this phenomena seems to be inconsistent. I just look at the underside of the tool after use and give it a brush with my trusty pastry brush if and when required. 

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I've found absolutely no need to tamp when it's set up correctly. I also agree it seems better when I rotate clockwise, which I did from the start.

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I've found absolutely no need to tamp when it's set up correctly. I also agree it seems better when I rotate clockwise, which I did from the start.

 

I’ve been using one of those for a while, and I always tamped afterwards. I’ll try to adjust it tomorrow so it goes deeper in the basket, and try to remember subsequently not to tamp.

 

 

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Happy Birthday Dave...present to follow... now what to get a contented man with umpteen dual boilers...

Mr MaB


It doesn't matter how you get there it's only the end result that matters

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Have you been using any other form of distribution before using the level/tamp?

I’ve had one before and also would tamp when finished with the distributor. Never thought to use it as a tamper too


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home - Sage dual boiler & Compak E8

work - Sage bambino plus & smart grinder

 

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2 hours ago, joey24dirt said:

Have you been using any other form of distribution before using the level/tamp?

I’ve had one before and also would tamp when finished with the distributor. Never thought to use it as a tamper too emoji106.png


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If you mean to I do anything before plonking it on the coffee and turning it...no....unless I fecked up getting the coffee into the portafilter with a large ski jump to one side or something, then I might tap the basket on the edge a bit with my hand. If you mean, have I ever used such a device before...no, people who know me know I am not big on fancy accessories and it takes a while (and often a drop in price) for me to want to try something.

I used to use an expensive stainless steel knock box draw until a mate bought me a cheap Grindenstien, I never looked back, cheap tamper until I got a Reg Barber as a prsent etc..

It's like this leveller/tamper thing...I didn't think it would work, but at the moment for this particular coffee....it seems to, even if I am turning it the wrong way, which I am not sure I am. The only nagging doubt in my mind is different coffees. I usually have 2 or 3 on the go and today will open another coffee I have. If they are different densities, then the height may have to be adjusted for each one....a ballache. Or alternatively, the dose adjusted for each one, less of a ballache...but begs some fundamental questions about dosing and baskets. In the old days I wouldn't bother weighing, coffee tasted good and I would dose by eye. This gave me a consistent puck and you can get big variations in puck depth if you grind the same weight for a coffee with lower/higher density. e.g. the Rawandan I roast will be significant;y less in the puck for the same weight of say a Peruvian.

Basket fill affects grind fineness required to maintain shot times/weight, adding more coffee to get the same puck height, might mean having to grind that coffee coarser, whereas strict grinding by the same weight each time means grinding that denser coffee perhaps finer, because of a thinner puck. It's something that has bothered me for a while (years), but no one seems to talk about it? I'm not really explaining my concerns very well, I suppose because I don't have a firm view on what the answer is.

 


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Well I might pull my review for a while whilst I do more experimentation. Seems to be a lot of views out there and I want to test some stuff. Some think it should be set just to move the top of the coffee about, then tamp, others that you can tamp. I have a fair bit of old coffee I can grind just for experimentation.

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Would be interested to see effects on extraction.

I’m a huge fan of wedge type leveller - maybe because the fit is much better than Motta 3-fun leveller which left messy basket walls. Grind into cup, WDT, level it, tamp. A bit more involved process, but great and consistent results when using an ek.

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I bought a Motta tamper but was annoyed at the missed edges and retention, so bought a St. Anthony Industries BT wedge, much nicer to use, cleans the grinds from the edge of the basket and nothing sticks to it.

I've been tamping afterwards every time but only the last few mm, the wedge leaves me with a nice flat surface meaning my tamp seems to be level every time.

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I think tamping with it just lets it effect more of the puck. Without pressure you're flattening the top layer, with pressure you moving around the lower layers, logically. I think all makers of these distribution tools recommend setting it to 1-2mm above where your tamp would end up but I can't see why you couldn't just fully compress the bed with it as you'd be gradually compressing and moving the grinds to achieve a flat bed which should prevent an uneven density.

 

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I've done a lot more testing now and especially any claims made for these levellers as they might apply to the 3 scraper type variants with the same base as mine.

1. Supposedly these things redistribute the coffee and rotate it a bit around the portafilter to level it. This is when used as designed (a groomer and leveller), not used as a tamper Err..no, no they don't. The coffee pretty much stays in place and doesn't really move as people might think.The tests I did verified the coffee layer doesn't really move about.

2. Everyone uses them rotating clockwise. Yes they seem to and I did also try tests with it anticlockwise, it made no difference to distribution

3. They improve the shot and get rid of voids. It doesn't seem to make any difference and it just an extra step when used with a tamper

4. They level the coffee bed. They do, all ready for the user to unlevel it with the tamper if they can't tamp straight.

So why did it work for me when I tried it...well I used it as a tamper leveller. Screwed the base right down as low as it could go and then placed it on the coffee and twisted it with fingertips until it compacted itself down to the rim....a 400g tamp if you like. Even with it screwed right down was the coffee compressed evenly? Partly although a few sharp raps into the palm of the other hand showed the centre collapsing like an incipient sink hole.

So could I tamp it some more...yes, but then the stuff at the edges was less compressed so I don't know how evenly compressed the whole puck was. The pours wew OK because with well ground coffee you don't need a teriffic tamping force and it can be counter productive. This gave a level bed, of I suppose slightly varying density that compressed enough with the machines pressure ramp (Minima)to give a decent shot. Was it better than conventionally tamped...no.

Likes

  • It's an easy lazy way to get the coffee level to the rim of the basket
  • It's consistent in pressure if; basket fill weight is consistent, the same coffee is used and only the weight of the device pushes down on the coffee as you rotate it
  • It's a gadget to play with and fun when you think it might be making a difference

Dislikes

  • Doesn't really work when used as intended
  • adds an extra non value add step when used as intended
  • just another thing taking up counter space
  • If used as a tamper leveller...then either has to be adjusted up/down for different coffees and for hi density coffees (e.g. less fill for weight) it won't go down far enough, so basket fill has to be higher (e.g. more weight)

Conclusion

£13.85 wasted along with quite a few hours of my time testing. I would not actually recommend people get one. I think it's more workflow efficient to use a Tamper/learn to use a tamper properly..

 

P.S. The one thing it might be doing under its own weight is causing the lower layers to be "massaged" into place a little better than a tamper, due to the spinning and the nature of the 3 vanes/slopes. Unfortunately it doesn't go low enough to do the job well.

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I have been using mine as a leveler/tamper since two days for about 10 shots of coffee. And i am amazed as pouring starting from middle and makes its way to sides, every time. No more slow dripping or any spritzes at all. I haven't brought mine all the way down as grounds were dense enough not to let me push down more. So i backed up a bit. Using 15gr on a vst15. I have only tested it with two different beans. Decaf and caf. Same level on the leveller worked well for both. Of course i will test more with different beans but i have a feeling i will ditch my tamper for good :) Thanks for bringing this to attention.


Gaggia Classic 2010 PID(IMS 200µm shower screen&Brass Dispersion Plate&OPV&Steam Wand Modded) | Kinu M47 V3 Niche Zero | Bottomless Portafilter&VST Ridgeless 15gr and 18gr | Decent Tamper V2 | MouMou 58mm Distribution Tool | 2X 64oz Airscapes & CoffeeVac

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I know at Atkinson’s in Manchester they have their san remo opera set to 6 bar flat pressure and only use the leveller as a tamper, they didn’t have it set too deep either as they said the gentle pressure meant the puck wasn’t too disturbed so it allowed a more gentle extraction and led to less channelling. The shots I tried of their hambella washed and natural aswell as their prototype blend tasted sweet and delicious.

 

At home I use it to level the puck before tamping, I find the flat puck and makes it easier for me to tamp the puck as level as possible.

 

 


Beans>Grinders>Machines

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6 minutes ago, Rakesh said:

I know at Atkinson’s in Manchester they have their Victoria arduino set to 6 bar flat pressure and only use the leveller as a tamper, they didn’t have it set too deep either as they said the gentle pressure meant the puck wasn’t too disturbed so it allowed a more gentle extraction and led to less channelling. The shots I tried of their hambella washed and natural aswell as their prototype blend tasted sweet and delicious.

 

At home I use it to level the puck before tamping, I find the flat puck and makes it easier for me to tamp the puck as level as possible.

 

They got rid of the San Remo Opera then ?


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They got rid of the San Remo Opera then ?

Woops, your right it was an opera not an arduino, was quite a while back I was last there.

Beans>Grinders>Machines

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I pulled it because not totally happy with it, when I have a moment I will put an amended version with my further thoughts.


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A few times I've thought about using and not the tamper. But mainly I give it a spin anti-clockwise, then clockwise. I know then that when I put my tamper in the basket it's level and I only use fingertip pressure on the base itself to push down.

I think I'll lower it a bit and try from there as the Speedster starts from zero pressure and gently ramps up to 3 bar for pre-infusion. I've still got it set at 6 bar pump pressure as well.

@EricC have you got one of these spinny things? If so, have a go without the tamper and see what you think?

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 Yes, i have the OCD version one, i'll give it a go later.

I must admit that it has been sitting in the cupboard and has not been used for a few months.

I simply grind from my Versalab M3/4 into the portafilter, a couple of taps on a puck and tamp using my PUSH tamper.

Works perfectly. 👍


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