Eazy Tamp 5 Star Pro Tamper Review
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2016 - All rights reserved

      There are periods of time when perusing the many coffee forums we experience a doldrum. A dull, boring lull when it just seems that there is nothing new to see, or read, or buy that catches neither the attention nor the imagination. Then the sun breaks through, the trade winds pick up, whitecaps appear and we are sailing again. Sometimes the waters are clear as glass, and at others it seems that you can't see the bottom at all.
      Those periods just seem to wash away the motivation, but in March of 2016 there were a number of threads concerning tamping. That in itself is not at all new, nor stimulating. It just takes one post from a new home barista asking whether we think they are tamping too hard or too soft because the flow is too slow or too fast. The replies in those threads usually follow a pattern that is, if nothing else, quite predictable, and normally they are just that and nothing more.
      But one thread centered around a tamper design that bewildered me. It allowed the user to adjust the base so that it would protrude to a fixed distance into the filter basket. Basically, like this:

      When used as designed it would always tamp to a user selected depth. Once the larger circumference of the "handle" hit the top edge of the basket, the piston portion was at a predetermined depth. An excerpt of my comments in the thread follow:

      While there is a minimum head-space required on some machines, never have I heard anyone say, "Tamp four point five millimeters," or anything similar. Tamping to a set depth? How do you know that the entire bed of coffee is compressed equally? With fingers around the base of a standard tamper you can feel if the coffee is generally of equal depth across its surface, but not very well with this tamper because it stops at its own bottom, not the "bottom" of compression.
      I have never used a tamper of this type, but then again I have never used a ruler to see how much I weigh. And while it may be an effective tool in some specific situations, for most users, "depth tamping" is just adding another possible variable when consistency in making espresso is already sufficiently challenging.

      At the time is seemed to me to be a solution, without a problem, which causes another problem, and my opinion remains unchanged. Beyond that, in commercial use it could possibly contribute to carpal tunnel because of the wrist's extreme angle when using the device. But in and amongst the iron pyrite which those threads contained I did pan out some nuggets of possible value.

      I have to assume that you all know what tamping is so I will not insult you with the elementary basics of the process. But I do want to take a few sentences to talk about the variables involved in tamping. Namely they are:
1 - The amount of compression the coffee experiences
2 - The importance of a level bed of coffee before extraction begins.
      For many years my attitude has been that if you find that you have to tamp to a specific amount of force, particularly if value is quite low or quite high, you are likely compensating for other problems. In my EASY GUIDE TO BETTER ESPRESSO AT HOME I covered those in detail here.
      For most of us, anything over about 20 pounds of downward force all the way up to 60 pounds is going to work fine.
      It is more important that the after tamping the coffee is roughly parallel to the basket's floor. In other words, level. That assures that the entire compressed mass of coffee will equally resist the flow of water during the brew cycle, and hopefully, extracts evenly throughout.

      We have seen a number of tampers which address tamping force, and I have previously reviewed two of them here on "Espresso! My Espresso!" Those are the Espro Calibrated Tamper, and the M-G Coffee Tools Smart-Tamp (links to my reviews).
      I mentioned earlier the "nuggets" of value I found. These were tools that supplied a solution to assure that the user created a bed of coffee that was level after tamping. Of the two tampers found which addressed that need, only one addressed both factors- level tamping and force-controlled tamping. That was the Eazy Tamp 5 Star Pro, made in Australia. NOTE - I did contact the manufacturers of the other tamper but never received a response.
      Eazy Tamp was created by Mr. Elie Nootenboom over a ten-year period. He's an engineer, builder and coffee addict, and it sounds like he would fit in around here just fine. The company is a family owned business based in Melbourne. The Eazy Tamp comes with a one-year guarantee on all internal parts (excluding timber and painted handles). It is 100% Australian made using only high grade stainless steel, industrial grade acetal plastic, and it is also available with the best quality natural Tasmanian Timbers (for their wood handle model).

      My Eazy Tamp 5 Star Pro arrived as part of a full kit with a couple of extras. The tamper itself comes with two springs seen below:

    The silver spring is about 33lbs. (15kg) and the red one is about 22lbs (10kg). Other optional items include a 12mm open end wrench, the Eazy Tamp Cup, and a "Star Infusion" tamper base. I received the 58mm kit. You can order the Eazy Tamp in your choice of 12 different size bases from 48 to 58.4mm. The bases are easily changed without tools, a plus if you have machines with different size portafilters or change machines in the future. They will also make custom sizes, so check with them if thy can accommodate your special needs. They are also available in varying thicknesses to accommodate VST, IMS or other competition filter baskets and require deeper compression inside of such filter baskets. Since the leveling flange sits flush on top of the portafilter it leaves no room for the tamper base to extend above the lip of the basket so base height of the tamper becomes critical for this tramper design. They urge you to consult them before ordering if you have any doubts.


      Here is the Eazy Tamp 5 Star Pro disassembled, laid out in assembly order:

      There are two springs inside the Eazy Tamp. The larger one you see above is the return spring that keeps the leveling plate against the tamper base until the tamper in in use. The 12mm open end wrench (an optional accessory) is used to remove the brass-bodied tension assembly assembly from the handle.

      The brass-bodied assembly can be unscrewed from the handle using a 12mm open end wrench. This is the portion of the tamper that "controls" the tamping force. The handle has a tactile "give" when the compression force is exceeded, and if you are so inclined there is nothing to keep you from exceeding that force by just pressing harder.

      The Eazy Tamp does exactly what it says it is designed to do. It holds the tamper level and in operation it is so stable I think that it would be nearly impossible to preform a tamp that was not level. Once in place on the portafilter you can tamp with your eyes closed, literally, and still get a level tamp. You can hold the acetal handle any way you like and not worry about achieving a level tamp so long as the "5-Star" leveling flange is on the basket. And even that is fairly well taken care of by the levelling plate spring which is designed to do just that.

      Their "Eazy Tamp Cup" (an optional extra) is an interesting alternative to the tamping mat many of us use. It holds my bottomless portafilter just fine and has plenty of depth for a spouted portafilter as well. I use mine to store my Eazy Tamp 5 Star Tamper when it is not in user as well. The cup holds the top of the basket about 3.75" (9.5cm) above the counter top, so folks of petite stature, or with physical or ergonomic challenges with standard height kitchen counter tops might find using a tamper at that additional height above the counter difficult.
      There is a rubbing or scraping sort of feedback through the handle as the tamping force regulating spring is compressing. I would assume that this is from the spring's friction against either the brass body in which the spring resides, against the stainless shaft inside the spring's coils, or maybe on the surfaces upon which the spring resides. My point of view is that it is just a different sort of feedback as to when that spring is being compressed. There are no plastic spacers or washer that might be used to eliminate that, but those extra parts might be subject to wear over time and just add steps when changing springs. The "rub" is not a big deal, does not bother me, and like so many things in life, you just adjust to it. The feel certainly does not detract from the quality of the task for which the Eazy Tamp 5 Star was designed to accomplish.

      To some, buying a tamper online is sort of like mail order underwear. The big question is, "How will it feel and how will it fit?" To give you an idea, above are (left to right), the M-G Tools Smart Tamp, the Espro Calibrated Tamp, and the Eazy Tamp 5 Star Pro.

      I had been using the Eazy Tamp 5 Star Pro for a few days before I headed off the Atlanta for the 2016 SCAA Exhibition. The day I returned home, by the time my weary head and aching feet hit the pillow and sheets (in that order) I had been awake for just over 20 hours. Yes, that is a long day. It is almost an entire day. The next morning I was (politely) ordered to make our morning coffee, and I was very glad to have the Eazy Tamp 5 Star Pro in hand. Bleary eyed, thought processes fogged, and less than steady-handed, level tamps were easily achieved. I do believe that you could hand the tamper to someone who has never made a single espresso and they could achieve a level tamp simply by handing them a dosed portafilter and the tamper, and with no more instruction than, "Put it in there [you point to basket] and press down hard on that handle [you point to tamper handle]."
      Well made, quality materials, and it does exactly what it says. If only marriage was that easy {insert rim shot}. It sells directly from the manufacturer for $148 plus shipping (free shipping in Australia). Kit #2 includes the The Eazy Tamp Cup (regularly $38 alone) for a total of $168. The accessory page has the Star Infusion base as well as a 12mm spanner available if you need that.
      You might ask, "Which one should I get? Which one is best?" Next you'll be asking me what underwear you should buy. I can't answer any of those questions for you. These tampers all have their place. Putting all three together would make quite a nice tool. And sure, I would like to have the performance of a Ferrari with the safety of my Volvo 245 and the cost of a new 1969 VW bug... as it was in 1969. It's just not going to happen. What I can say is that I liked the Eazy Tamp 5 Star Pro right from the start.
      I think the leveling aspect of this tamper makes handle fit less important. The handle of a non-leveling tamper must fit the hand well in order to give control over that aspect. In use, the leveling function of this tamper works perfectly, and with quality distribution of the grounds before tamping, you would have to work hard to foul up your tamping.
     Check out the Eazy Tamp 5 Star Pro. It just might be what you are looking for to improve your espresso. And who knows? If nothing else, you just may have a few of those "morning-after-a-long-day"s in your future where a level tamp, easily accomplished, will be just what the doctor (or the barista) ordered..