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How to extract your shots evenly with espresso tamping techniques?

Espresso shots with even extraction are the holy grail for baristas at home and at cafes. A balanced shot must have the right mix of sweetness, acidity, and bitterness. 

Tamping refers to compacting down freshly dosed grounds in your portafilter after the grounds have been dosed. For a dense, even puck, bury your tamper tool about 30 lbs deep into the ground. 

  • Removes air pockets and channels that could lead to uneven saturation.
  • Allows you to dose a precise amount of coffee.
  • Forms a flat, level surface for water to extract through.
  • Improves overall extraction consistency.

Without proper tamping, water will take the path of least resistance through your puck, channeling and creating weak spots. It leads to sour, under-extracted shots. Alternatively, uneven densities and clumping cause over-extraction and bitterness.

Key gear and techniques

Tamping success begins with the right gear and fundamentals.

  • Tamper – Invest in a quality, size-matched metal tamper. The base should be perfectly level and fit your basket precisely. Common sizes are 58mm and 53mm.
  • Dosing funnel – Use a funnel when grinding into your portafilter to keep things tidy. Some have a built-in leveler for a consistent dose.
  • Scale – Weigh your dose to ensure consistency. Aim for a 1:2 brew ratio (e.g. 18g in, 36g out).
  • Distribute – Before EspressoMuse tamping, break up any clumps and evenly distribute grinds using a toothpick or distribution tool. 
  • Level Bed – Tamp on a flat surface. Tap the portafilter lightly if needed to settle the grinds before tamping.
  • 30 lbs pressure – Tamping pressure should be about 30 pounds. Tamp straight down without twisting. 
  • Polishing Twist – After tamping straight down, do a gentle twist to “polish” the surface.

Tamping technique guide

    • Grind directly into your portafilter fitted with a dosing funnel. Use your selected coffee dose weight.
    • Remove the dosing funnel and use a toothpick or distribution tool to break up clumps. Gently stir the grounds to distribute them.
    • Lightly tap the side of the portafilter on your tamping mat to settle the grounds into a flat, level bed. 
    • Tamp straight down, keeping your elbow locked and using your body weight. Apply 30 lbs of pressure.
    • Do a gentle “polishing twist” after tamping to smooth and compress any stray grounds.
    • Carefully remove the tamper and inspect your tamp. The bed should be perfectly flat and level. 
    • If needed, repeat light tapping and re-tamp until you achieve an even puck.
  • Lock the portafilter into your machine and pull your shot! Visit here to get more information

Troubleshooting an uneven tamp

It takes practice to develop a consistent tamping method. 

  • Donut shape – The perimeter is lower than the center. Tamp in a continuous vertical motion without rocking.
  • Uneven surface – Tamp is slanted to one side. Keep your wrist straight and elbow locked.
  • Too hard or soft – Adjust your pressure between 20-30 lbs.
  • Channels or cracks – Distribute better before tamping to prevent weak spots.
  • Tilting – Lower your elbow and engage your core and lat muscles more to keep tamp level.

Try recording your tamping and puck prep on video. It lets you scrutinize your form and make adjustments. Tamping routine dialed in is a huge step towards pulling quality Espresso Muse shots.


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