This is my third espresso tamper, and by far, my favorite! It is the perfect combination of form and function. It helps the espresso enthusiast learn how a standard 30-LB tamp feels, and promotes consistency in this very important variable in the art and science of espresso. By achieving consistency in this variable, you can focus efforts in improving other variables such as grind, dose, temperature, and time.
Though the Espro may be labeled a training tool, don't be stymied into thinking that it is only for use by novices. I have read several reviews by professional baristi who endorse this tamper for daily use well beyond the training phase of one's espresso hobby or career.
The quality of materials, craftsmanship, the utility, and the aesthetics of the tamper will make this tamper your favorite.
The tamper is available in 5 sizes: 58MM Flat, 58MM Convex, 57MM Convex, 53 MM Flat, and 53MM Convex. The 58MM is a very common portafilter/filter basket size, and the correct one for my Rancilio Silvia, but you may not be able to find one to fit other portafilter sizes. Similarly, the color selection is somewhat limited. That I know of, the 58MM and 53 MM tampers are black and the 57MM tampers are red.
The tamper is very solidly constructed and weighs a hefty 1 LB. The piston itself is made of stainless steel, while the handle is anodized aluminum. The handle is very ergonomic and has a very comfortable and stable feel in hand. The tamper is weighted so that the piston is heavier than the handle, and this is supposed to facilitate barista tricks.
One feature that I really appreciate in the tamper is the mechanical action produced by the internal spring when 30 LB of force is reached. It is not so rough that it will unsettle the puck you are working so diligently to create. The action is silent so there is no attention catching audible click. As you gradually modulate the pressure towards 30 LBS, the handle softly slips a couple of MM of travel indicating that the pressure threshold has been reached.
Another great feature of this tamper is the quality of the instructional materials that come in printed form with the tamper, in addition to the multimedia video and other information available on the Espro website. More than fulfilling the purpose of informing you on the proper use of the tamper, they also include information on general technique and grind adjustment to achieve a proper extraction. The printed directions are in English, Italian, Spanish and French, in addition to illustrations. The illustrations are so clever, that they are capable of standing on their own, without any accompanying text. As far as tamping technique is concerned, the instructions show both a standard tamp and a Staub tamp.
Though I appreciate the overall quality of this tamper, I was a little hesitant to pay the average $89.99 USD price. Home espresso can be an expensive hobby. I consider the tamper to be worth $90, especially if you commit to using it permanently, instead of just during a period of training.
A very minor negative point is the aesthetics of the packaging itself. Though the tamper is very well wrapped and carefully packaged to prevent damage incidental to storage and shipping, the cardboard cylinder and manila colored paper the tamper is wrapped in are definitely very plain and are not on par with the quality of the tamper itself. I wish Espro would invest more in their product presentation.
Of the three tampers I own, this Espro is so far above and beyond my favorite. My other 58MM tamper has been relegated to an obscure place in a kitchen drawer to be used only as a last resort.