Espresso Tamper

May 2023
Copper, zebrawood

I recently received a new compact espresso maker, but it didn't come with a tamper for the grounds in the portafilter. I tried all kinds of substitutes: my fingers, the back of a spoon, a cocktail muddler; none of these compressed the coffee grounds well. Then it hit me that rather than buying a tamper, this was a deficit that could be remedied in my studio!

I had some 6-gauge copper lying around, and I figured a 4mm thick disc of metal would be heavy enough and sturdy enough to use as a tamper. I initially set out to make a purely functional tool, but as I was shaping the business end of the tamper I realized that I had the opportunity to make something beautiful.

I'm no wood turner and I don't own a lathe, but I dug out an old piece of zebrawood that I'd had for 15 years and turned it on my drill press (a process I do not recommend). I soldered three tangs onto the back of the copper disc, coated the surfaces with food-safe epoxy and hammered the parts together. When everything dried I sanded it and oiled it with some food-safe butcher block oil.

It's by no means perfect as far as the execution goes, but it looks pretty great and it sure helps to make a mighty fine shot of espresso!