How It's Made: The Cambium Tamper
The Cambium Tamper is the first of our new products at Pantechnicon, a line of espresso tools and accessories that have the same build quality and attention to detail that we bring to our custom espresso machines.
The tamper itself is about 10.5 ounces altogether, with most of the weight coming from the base, which is food grade 300 series stainless steel. The handles come in three different options, Black Walnut, Eastern Hard Maple, and American White Oak, and the contrasting ferrule comes in Copper, Brass, or Black Delrin.
The tamper base starts as a steel rod that comes in 48” lengths, which is then put into the bar feeder. The bar feeder pushes the rod into a CNC lathe, where it’s machined into either a 58.5mm or 53.5mm flat base (while spinning at 3400 rpms!)
The CNC lathe first trims out the shape of the base, which has been designed to be as wide as possible in order to reduce channeling around the edges of the basket. The base is milled to a 90 degree angle, but slopes back after about 2 mm to reduce any suction that might happen when tamping. The base is also about 1 cm thick, which makes it a little easier to feel the coffee bed while tamping.
The lathe then drills a hole for the steel post to fit into. After that, it engraves our logo, our name, and the specified diameter into the side of the base. The whole process takes about 15 minutes in total, after which the machine spits out the tamper base and starts over again.
The edge is then lightly sanded to take down the sharpness just a little, and the tamper bases are then ready for the post that attaches the handle.
Tamper handles come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and the Cambium Tamper is 63cm tall with a base that tapers out to 38cm (2 1/2” x 1 3/8").
We use all U.S. grown hardwood, raised and harvested sustainably. All the wood at Pantechnicon arrives as raw planks, which we mill in-house to a specific width and length to make a base block, or blank. We use different size blanks depending on what is being milled, so there are blanks for portafilter handles, tamper handles, group covers, et cetera.
The blanks all get placed by hand into a different CNC lathe, which then trims out the shape of the handle.
The handle is then sanded by hand in successively finer grit, until the surface is satin smooth (about 600 grit). Then we apply one coat of our finish (all natural and food safe; a mix of plant derived oil and wax), and the handle gets placed in a dust free holding place to dry for at least 8 hours. Then the handle gets a second coat of finish, and that’s allowed to dry for another 8 hours.
After the second coat is dry, the handle goes on the buffing wheel to polish the finish, which brings out the grain and depth of the wood.
The ferrule comes in Brass, Copper, or in Black Delrin, which is an acetal resin used in ski bindings, zippers, safety restraints, and various other applications where durability and toughness is required.
The ferrules are cut in the same CNC lathe that we use for the tamper base, and each ferrule takes about ¼” of material, so we can get a lot of them out of one piece of metal. There is the slightest taper to match the top of the tamper base to the bottom of the handle, so they only fit in one direction.
After you make your selection, your components are assembled by hand, wrapped up in a linen bag to keep everything scratch free, and packaged up with care by Joel, who handles all of our shipping and receiving.
Care and Maintenance
The Cambium Tamper is a precision crafted tool designed for everyday use. Store the Cambium on your tamping mat or something similar to keep the face in good shape, and the handle can be cleaned with a damp cloth as needed. With proper care the Cambium will last for a lifetime of coffee making!