Like a mitt is to a baseball player or a pick to a guitarist, so the coffee tamper is to the barista. Design after design, this tool for packing ground coffee during the espresso-making process is regularly improved and beautified. But have you ever considered the sublime possibility of one in your own likeness—that is, a tamper with a handle that replicates your head in 3D-printed miniature?
Well, Dutchman Thijmen de Loos has. To create his replica-head tampers, the 17-year coffee industry vet teamed up with Local Makers, a 3D print shop located on the same Amsterdam block as the Simon Lévelt coffee franchise that de Loos owns. The results are a delight to behold and to hold and are now available for purchase locally. Sprudge got in touch with de Loos to get the details.
And note: to own a personalized head tamper, you don’t need to be a narcissist—you just need to be comfortable with your (or maybe your favorite barista’s) noggin.
How does someone go about getting a personalized head tamper?
First, a high-quality 3D scan of the head is needed. If someone wants to supply their own scan, they can do so in consultation with us, provided the quality meets that of the printer. But the easiest and, therefore, fastest way would be by going in person to the Local Makers 3D print shop.
What steps are involved in the creation process?
After the 3D model is printed, it can be fitted on the pre-made middle part of the tamper. I’m currently having the steel bottom plate made by a local steel company. The screw thread comes from the hardware store on the corner and gets glued to the 3D print with heat-resistant adhesive. The next day we send it to the customer.
What materials can the tamper be made from?
You name it. I myself have one made of steel, but the possibilities grow by the day.
What tamper sizes are available?
Our own bottom plate is 58 mm, which is standard, but most common sizes can be supplied on request, although small-volume orders can get a bit pricier.
How much does it cost?
Currently, between 60 and 90 euros. It depends on the choices of material and bottom plate.
How long does the order take?
One to two days for a standard version.
So what gave you this idea?
I think it actually began as a joke. After searching for a part for a very old grinder, I came upon the 3D print shop. They printed the part, and I was able to sell the grinder to a happy customer. Then I went home, found myself sitting on the couch, thinking that there was potential for more here. I had a look around with [Mark Austen] the owner of Local Makers for products that we could do something with. After considering stencils for personalized cocoa powder logos on milk foam, we thought of tampers. Mark joked that you could make 3D prints of anything, even your own head… Who wouldn’t want that?
And have you tried making espresso with your own head?
Yes, definitely. It works perfectly. I must say, though, that my hairstyle back then, when I had the 3D scan, was perfect for the tamper. In principle, Local Makers can always fashion something workable from a 3D scan, though the first customer with a mohawk has yet to come forward—that would be at your own risk.
Besides the head, you’ve also designed 3D-printed tampers featuring a personalized handgrip and the city’s iconic street post known as an Amsterdammertje. Tell us more.
I myself am a fan of the Amsterdammertjes. These are going to get even better. We’re waiting on a printer that can combine more colors, and then the design will be fully ready. It costs 50 euros and the bases will soon be engravable. Engraving, by the way, is an option for all the tampers.
Some tampers are available for purchase at Simon Lévelt at Ferdinand Bolstraat 154, Amsterdam.
Karina Hof is a Sprudge staff writer based in Amsterdam. Read more Karina Hof on Sprudge.
Tamper photos courtesy of Local Makers.