Consistent, Even, and Proper Pressure Tamping improved my coffee immeasurably. This product does it with style.
Positive Product Points
- Gives consistent, Even, Tamp. - Eliminates guesswork as well as variability. - Has a great chrome finish with simplicity in the design. - Has the ability to adjust the pressure of the tamp. - Is the right size to be placed on a counter. - Is made with hardened steel gears. - Excellent customer service. - Made by a Coffee Geek. - No "click-release" to break
Negative Product Points
- Is expensive. - Needs variable size diameter. - Not really designed for home barista. - There is a sticker placed on a beautiful finish. - There are no instructions. - No way to tell exactly what pressure is being delivered.
I really had no choice in buying something that would create a consistent tamp. My wife has become an avid coffee connoisseur but doesn't have the hand strength in a tamp that I do. When she would tamp, the shot would come out way too fast. So, of course, she would then crank down on the Mazzer to a finer grind.
Then I would come along and choke the machine! We wasted so many shots and had too many arguments.
Besides that, even though we're using excellent equipment (Isomac Rituale and Mazzer Mini) with freshly roasted beans, we had consistently inconsisted shots. Something had to give.
I had been looking for an automatic tamper for a long time. I remember reading for years in the forums about people making them. I also saw the Macap when it was released but just couldn't justify hundreds of dollars for a TAMPER!
At the time I purchased the Autotamp, there were really only two choices: the Macap or the Autotamp. I had not used either but I liked the looks of the Autotamp better and it was cheaper.
I called and spoke with Todd Millar. At first, I didn't realize that he had invented it and was the owner of the company. I just called to order and we ended up talking for an hour about coffee. He is very passionate about it and it was fun to learn more about coffee from him.
The machine came quickly from Oregon and the first shot I made (with Malabar Gold rested 70 hours) was a perfect naked shot. I mean perfect! My wife had the first sip and simply said, "Wow! That's the best shot you've ever made!" She was right.
The shots were consistent not only from shot to shot, but also from person to person. (which was the original reason I purchased it.) I am so much happier with my coffee now. It turned out I was way over tamping and it wasn't even.
I had a chance to really play with the machine and I've discovered several nuances that I'd like others to confirm or refute. I tried using the distribution techniques suggested to even out the pour but I found it made it more inconsistent than helpful. Simply making a central mound and then tamping with the Autotamp has worked well. Further, the pressure applied by the Autotamp is actually user adjustable. The pressure is applied by a system of two calibrated springs. By raising or lowering the height of the suspension fork, I found I could adjust the tamp pressure. The default is calibrated with the fork simply all the way down.
What would be nice is to have some sort of scale to verify the pressure applied.
Since the product is not mass-produced by some large corporation, it didn't come in a nice package or with instructions. This may be a turn off to some. To me it was nice to support a fellow Coffee Geek in his endeavor to make a better mousetrap. Because they are not mass-produced, they are expensive. I can't imagine a huge market but I sure would like the commercial coffee house to buy them and make the kid behind the counter use them. Maybe then the coffee would actually be drinkable.
The build of the unit is 95% awesome. It is beautiful in its chrome simplicity. It is the right height to sit next to my Rituale and Mazzer. It adds to the mystique of the whole look on my counter. The only thing I don't like about the looks is the sticker which is placed on the base. To me, it just looks out of place. A better location would be to have it on the bottom or better yet a metal plaque soldered on. I think this would be classier.
The action is smooth and easy. The tamping disc comes down and applies even pressure utilizing a spring activated system and then is finished by a second spring which has a nice "end-feel."
The disc size is actually 57.5 mm which does leave a tiny "ring" of coffee around the edge. This hasn't had any effect on the naked shot or taste but seems to make a messier screen on my group-head. I talked with Todd about that and he said he tested using a 58 mm and had WORSE results! He said that if someone really wanted a 58 mm disc it is available but he doesn't recommend it. I don't know if other disc sizes are available for non-E61 group heads but I believe they are.
I purchase directly from Autotamp.com. I spoke directly with Todd Millar who was extremely knowledgeable, passionate, helpful, and friendly. Shipping was quick and communication was excellent.
Three Month Followup
This product has made my life a lot easier. I can't say that about most items I've purchased in the last six months.
Works beautifully every time and has become an essential part of my morning ritual.
I would easily purchase again.
One Year Followup
Like most things, it has become a habit and I tend to take it for granted. It is only when I don't have it that I miss it tremendously.
It has worked flawlessly. But that is almost obvious. There is really nothing to break or dysfunction.
I am happy that I purchased it and would do so again.