When bench space is precious real estate and product consistency is in high demand, Espresso Company Australia believes there is one automated product café owners must invest in.
These days, automatic tampers have become permanent fixtures on coffee bars in addition to grinders and coffee machines.
Standing 318 millimetres tall and just 127 millimetres in diameter with a host of intuitive features, Espresso Company Australia Director Charles Stephens says CinoArt’s new Precision Tamper 2 (PT2) provides the value Australian cafés are looking for.
“CinoArt has given us an opportunity to present a really great product that is refreshingly well made and produces a consistent and even tamp when producing espresso,” Charles says.
Designed by a former nuclear scientist who has turned his attention to coffee equipment manufacturing, Charles says the founder of CinoArt has been nothing but open and willing to accommodate the mature and sophisticated needs of Australian coffee market.
“CinoArt has been a dream to work with. We share our local needs and knowledge with them, and within 18 hours they come up with a new design in our inbox,” he says.
One of the main attractions of the PT2 is the new Guide Levelling System (GSL), a patent technology that autocorrects an uneven portafiler handle into a flat horizontal position for an even distribution and perfectly flat coffee bed surface.
“If the coffee handle is not level, the coffee is tamped on an angle, and if the coffee bed is not flat, what you get is over and under extraction through channelling, which ultimately results in flavour changes in your espresso,” Charles says.
The other advantage is the segmented multi tamping function, which can be programmed to apply one to three pressure applications, ranging from two to 38 kilograms.
“For example, you can set your first tamp pressure to be a light tamper at three kilograms and your second tamp at a heavier 15 kilograms pressure,” says ECA National Sales Manager Salvatore Savarino. The other obvious feature, Salvatore adds, is the price point at just $999 retail price.
“We don’t normally talk about the advantage of pricing, we’d rather talk about the machine’s features, but we believe there’s a real place for this auto-tamper in the market. It’s attainable yet doesn’t compromise on features or build quality,” he says. “Right now, repeat business is critical. Cafés need to ensure customers come back for their $4.50 coffee, and if automating the tamping process can help achieve a consistent extraction and quality product each time, then it’s worth it.”
For Paul Geshos of roaster and café operator Mecca, consistency is everything. He says the levelling component and consistency achieved from shot to shot with the PT2 gives his baristas more confidence in their tamping ability.
“Our head barista John was disappointed when our trial of the PT2 ended, so that’s saying something,” he says.
“Our baristas love that the PT2 removes an unnecessary level of variability from shot to shot. No longer do they have to adjust the grind profile depending on the barista on shift and their tamping pressure. Now, the barista can spend more time dialling in the recipe and focusing on flavour rather than adjusting their tamping style to get the best out of the coffee.
“It also means less grunt work and pounding of hundreds of coffees a day by hand, which ultimately leads to baristas suffering shoulder, elbow, and wrist injuries from the repetitive nature of tamping.”
With more automatic tampers routinely used in Mecca’s wholesale cafés, Paul says it makes sense for more parts of the coffee making process to move towards automation.
“In the case of the PT2, it’s probably as quick as manual tamping, but it’s far more accurate. And if it allows baristas to become coffee specialists and ensure customers have a great sensory experience, then that can only be a good thing,” he says.
Tim Adams of Tim Adams Specialty Coffee says introducing an automatic tamper to his café and wholesale partners’ cafés means one less element to train staff on.
“In the past two years, we’ve seen lots of staff turnover and cafés reducing staff hours to keep wages tight during lockdowns and restrictions, with some venues working on skeleton shifts. It’s common to have a higher turnover of less experienced baristas, so it’s a positive for us to have an economical and effective automated tamper that requires very minimal training,” Tim says.
He adds that while traditional tamping is a craft experienced baristas respect, it has always been a guessing game of pressure and evenness with the risk of incorrect technique detrimental to extraction consistency.
“I’ve seen it all – crooked slops, mid-air tamping – and it always results in uneven coffee beds. All these variable techniques result in over or under extraction, so to have a device that distributes even pressure – and with the option of a single or double tamp, means that we can produce a super consistent product even for single origin coffees where there’s often a bit of trial and error involved in getting the grind, pressure and flow rate right.”
Tim purchased 15 PT2 units from ECA in first two months of its release this year. He says once it passed his own tests for efficiency and quality, wholesale customers have been actively asking to purchase them. “Some have said, ‘why haven’t we used this before?’ They thoroughly enjoy that one very important variable of tamping efficiency is done for them, because it does speed up service, creates consistency and is reliable,” Tim says.
The other added benefit is the quality time baristas can now spend with customers.
“With baristas mostly wearing face masks on shift, they only have their eyes to make contact, so engagement is key. Rather than constantly looking down at their tamping technique, they can look straight ahead at the customer,” Tim says.
For George Alam, General Manager of coffee equipment sales and service company Specialist Espresso, every piece of real estate on a coffee bench needs to be justified. When he saw how small the footprint of the PT2 was, and how solid and stable the cylindrical unit was in its all-metal construction, it was an easy decision to house it on the Specialist Espresso Showroom bench.
“Every piece of equipment on the bench needs to prove its worth, and my favourite thing about the PT2 is how little space it takes up thanks to its cylindrical design,” George says.
“We do plenty of design and installations for café set-ups, and the biggest thing you have to consider is the bar space available and what piece of equipment fits where. It’s a premium position in any café. You have to allow for the space of your most-used items such as a coffee machine and grinder, but even at the new café I’m setting up now, I’ve allowed for a CinoArt because of the minimal space required.”
Above all else, George agrees the PT2 is the very device cafés need in a market that values consistency.
“At the moment, because of COVID, there’s lots of people losing a staff member almost every day due to their presence at an exposure site. Therefore, with minimal staff available, automation is really becoming a key focus, whether it’s in your espresso machine, milk dispenser or automatic tamper, which I think is one of the most essential pieces of equipment to achieve consistency,” George says.
“People go to a lot of trouble weighing shots, and correct tamping is just as important.”
With more shipments of the PT2 automatic tampers on their way to Australia, George says café operators should be excited for the value the PT2 can deliver to their business.
“If I look at the range of products on the market, and the value for money this automatic tamper delivers, it really is an unbelievable buy,” he says.
For more information, visit www.espressocompany.com.au
This article appeared in the October 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.