Pulling a barista-quality espresso shot at home requires a few key things, starting with quality beans, a grinder, and (of course) an espresso machine. Just as important, though, is using a tamper to compress the coffee in your machine’s portafilter prior to brewing. This step has a big impact on how water flows through the coffee, thus affecting the strength, flavor, and texture of your espresso. So how to find a good one? The best espresso tampers are made from durable stainless steel and sized specifically to fit your portafilter. They also feature weighted bases, so you achieve consistent, evenly extracted espresso every time.
Before shopping, you'll first want to measure the inside diameter of your espresso maker’s portafilter. Tampers come in different sizes, and the one you use should be just slightly smaller than the portafilter basket, so that it fits easily with no friction, but it should be big enough to cover the entire surface, so that your puck is evenly tamped — otherwise, you run the risk of water channeling, which can result in both under- and over-extraction. Most of the brands on this list sell tampers in different diameters, so you can find one that works best with your machine.
As far as material, the best espresso tampers are made from durable stainless steel (experts recommend against plastic and aluminum) and they also have a little weight to them — ideally, at least 7 ounces — which helps compress the grounds in a consistent manner. (And if you really want to get precise, you can use a tamper with a built-in espresso distribution tool to level the grounds for an even more uniform brew.)
Whichever of the best espresso tampers you pick, this simple coffee accessory will help you pull consistent, full-flavored shots at home. (And for a little more expert guidance, check out this step-by-step guide that shows you how to tamp espresso.)
1. The Overall Best Espresso Tamper
With a stellar 4.9-star overall rating and a heavy design, the LuxHaus 51-millimeter espresso tamper weighs in at 15.8 ounces and has a rust-proof stainless steel base to help you compress your grounds into a flat, uniform puck. The tamper’s ergonomic handle is made from BPA-free plastic and can be removed from the tamper base for hand washing. The LuxHaus comes in three sizes ranging from 49 to 53 millimeters, so you can dial in on the right diameter for your espresso maker’s portafilter.
- Available sizes: 49 mm, 51 mm, 53 mm
According to one reviewer: "This tamper is ergonomically perfect. It's beautiful to hold, weighted perfectly, and does a superb job of tamping. Its heft and balance allows one to apply just the right amount of pressure. It's well worth the price."
2. The Runner-Up
VIENESSO’s 51-millimeter tamper weighs 11.3 ounces and features a removable rosewood handle that brings warmth to the design, with a knobbed shape for easy gripping. Depending on your espresso maker, you can choose between three sizes — 51 millimeters, 53 millimeters, and 58 millimeters — both of which have a premium stainless steel base that's dishwasher-safe (the handle can be detached). The VIENESSO comes with a silicone mat to protect the tamper and keep countertops clean between shots.
- Available sizes: 51 mm, 53 mm, 58 mm
According to one reviewer: "This tamper is perfect for my espresso machine. Had no problem using it and the build is very sturdy with great wood quality. The wood is not laminated so it doesn't shine which I prefer. Cleaning is very easy as you can unscrew out the handle from the base and clean."
3. The Most Affordable — & One That's Dual-Sided
Weighing 12 ounces, this affordable dual-sided espresso tamper has a straightforward, versatile design that would make it a good option for anyone who owns multiple espresso machines. The opposing ends measure 51 and 58 millimeters respectively, so it’s compatible with a wide range of portafilter diameters. Since the whole thing is constructed from stainless steel, it's durable and safe to put in the dishwasher. Perhaps the biggest drawback is the fact that you're not dealing with an ergonomic knobbed handle, so it may not feel as comfortable in your hand.
- Available sizes: 51/58 mm
According to one reviewer: "I like tampers that have a solid heavy feel and this one certainly has that. [...] for people like me that value function over aesthetics then look no further."
4. The Best 2-In-1 Espresso Distribution Tool & Tamper
If you’re looking for a way to level your coffee grounds so that they're perfectly even before you tamp, this dual-headed espresso distribution tool and tamper is a great option. One side of the device is beveled, and when you twist it across the surface of the grounds in the portafilter, it'll evenly distribute them for even extraction. The opposite side has a flat tamper to compress the grounds before brewing, and it is height-adjustable. Both the distributor and tamper are made with durable stainless steel, and the 53-millimeter option weighs 15.1 ounces to aid in the pressure needed to make a uniform puck. This tamper comes in two sizes — 53 and 58 millimeter.
- Available sizes: 53mm, 58mm
According to one reviewer: "Extremely useful leveler to use prior to tamping coffee for espresso. Very well designed and excellent build quality. Great value."