OK - most people don't need a tamp, but if you want one, a cheap one can often handle the occasional run. It makes complete sense to get a quick tamp on most machines to set the espresso cake to so rivers of hot water don't find their way around the grounds instead of through them.
To be clear, when professional portafilters get a tamp, it's because they need to create the right cake density in order to build back pressure for proper extraction. Most consumer machines get backpressure from the pin holes in the consumer portafilter. Here the portafilter does the work, whereas the professional portafilter, the espresso cake does the work.
Either way, a quick tamp can help most consumers too, and here's a cheap one at less than $10.
At Amazon - Espresso Tamp">Espresso Tamp
Saw this and had to pass it along. Was this the start of the craze? Could the espresso tipping point have been reached via the espresso cart craze in Seattle? While Starbucks, founded in 1971, contributed to the craze, it was much bigger than just one brand. This very well could have been the first espresso cart in the nation helping to contribute to the wild west of espresso in the early days out in Seattle.
Two of the three owners of the cart features in this Seattle Times posting, are also the co-owners of the revered La Marzocco espresso machine company.
Check out the Photo and then the story that prompted one of the Co-owners of La Marzocco to mail in the picture - at Seattle Times.
Normally priced much higher at $299, the Nespresso Le Cube is now only $199 (you can read our full review here). The Le Cube measures 9 by 8-8/9 by 9-inch, and makes an exceptional cup of espresso or lungo coffee. You can even auto-program the amount of espresso you want in each cup. The Nespresso Le Cube works with coffee-filled capsules from Nespresso, and there is 12+ flavors available, along with seasonal flavors too. We imagine they've lowered the price to make way for the new Citiz line of Nespresso coffee makers, but we really love the Le Cube and think at $199 you can't go wrong.
At Nespresso Le Cube C185 Espresso Machine