Should You Tamp Your Coffee?
Tamping is the process by which you use pressure to compress your coffee grounds into a more solid form. The main concept behind the idea is to create a denser environment for the water to pass through - in other words, the water is likely to pass evenly through the grounds than it would if they were loose. Why is that important? Flavor. When hot water passes through the coffee grounds, it absorbs the flavor and becomes the delicious nectar that puts a twinkle in the eyes of coffee lover across the world.
But when is the proper time to tamp? Is it worth doing at all?
A drip coffee maker works via gravity. Water falls from above, passes through the coffee grounds, and eventually into the pot. Because there's no pressure involved, as there would be with an espresso machine, the water would have a harder time passing through grounds that had been tamped into the filter. The water would eventually break up the tamp anyway and find its way into the pot as normal, but with nothing much gained over the normal procedure. When using your Mr. Coffee® Optimal Brew™ 10-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker, it's best to measure your grounds with a loosely packed spoon, then drop them into the filter. You can give the filter a slight shake to even them out, otherwise just sit back and let the machine do the work for you.
This is where tamping can really make a difference in flavor. When using an espresso machine like the Mr. Coffee® Café Barista, you can tamp the coffee down to help the water pass through the grounds evenly. However, the first thing you'll want to do is grind your coffee with the Mr. Coffee® Automatic Burr Mill Grinder. Then measure out the proper amount of grounds in the filter cup and tamp them down. The espresso should flow from the filter with visible crema so the streams look smooth and caramel in color. If the tamp is too light, it will flow too fast and just appear like dark coffee, and if the tamp is too heavy it will flow too slow and barely drip out. Start by tamping light and adjust accordingly. The machine comes with a double-sided scoop/tamper that fits perfectly into the filter. Be careful about tamping too hard - you don't want to strain your wrist or risk damaging the equipment. A moderate amount of pressure should be enough.
Like most aspects of your at-home cafe, you can prepare your coffee just the way you like it. When making espresso drinks, tamp your grounds and see how it affects the flavor. It's your brew and it should be tailored to your preferences.