Stark Insider reviews the Normcore Espresso Tamping Mat
With all the fancy espresso gadgets available these days it’s easy to forget about the most basic one: the tamping mat.
Yet, it’s critical. Being able to firmly tamp your grind in the portafilter on a stable surface takes another variable out of the equation — or at the very least it minimizes any issues related to your ability to finish puck prep without tamping problems.
For the longest time I just used a simple square tamp mat. When I upgraded my aging HX espresso machine this year I decided to finally “invest” in a better tamping mat.
I decided to try the Normcore Espresso Tamping Mat (V1). Primarily for three reasons:
- Normcore is a well-known name in the espresso community and their products tend to mostly get solid reviews
- I like the basic look of the matt black silicone finish — no bling
- It’s large enough to accommodate both a portafilter and tamper with space to spare (for a scale, puck screen, WDT, etc.)
- Finally, the Normcore mat is relatively inexpensive (as far as espresso gadgets go that is)
To my surprise this new tamp pad really changed the game for me.
Now I was tamping on the edge of the counter instead of in the middle. That meant I could position my body weight more easily over the portafilter when tamping. Little did I know the kind of positive impact this could have on my workflow.
Normcore Espresso Tamping Mat
- Waterproof, heat resistant and food safe
- Silicone and anti-slip rubber
- Subtle pattern and Normcore logo
- Well proportioned
- It’s… a tamping mat
- Dimensions: 9 inches (230 mm) L x 1.6 inches (40 mm) H x 5.9 inches (150 mm) W
- Price: $23.99 USD
Inspecting spent pucks validated that I was getting a nice even distribution. With the bottomless portafilter I could see no channeling and everything looked really clean in terms of extraction. To be fair, there’s a multitude of other factors beyond a mere tamp pad that impacts all of this of course! In any case, I enjoyed not only my new espresso machine and grinder, but also the streamlined workflow — no more bending over the counter to get on top of my tamp.
In terms of looks there’s not much to say. Finished in matt black silicone, it’s got a nice heft. I found absolutely no shifting or movement in use thanks to the anti-slip rubber. Also, look closely and you’ll see a nice pattern, which I find understated and classy. My old mat had a solid finish and tended to show marks more readily.
The Normcore logo is subtly stamped on the front right. Again, I appreciate the reserved approach to the branding so it’s not shouting at me in the mornings.
And finally, the front lip has just enough overhang to look good and keep the mat in place.
Overall, the Normcore Espresso Tamping Mat gets my recommendation. Definitely worth checking out if you feel it’s time to improve your tamping surface and puck prep workflow. At $23.99 USD it’s one of the less financially devastating things you can do to your home barista setup!
It’s not the most sexy thing ever in the world of espresso, but sometimes it’s the little things that matter.