Is The Cinoart PT2 The Best Automatic Coffee Tamper Ever?


A commercial tamper for home use is likely overkill, but, as a coffee blogger, I have always really liked the idea of removing as many variables as possible so that I can truly focus on reviewing the product that is in front of me.

If you’re currently in the market for an automatic tamper, then you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t give the Cinoart PT2 a good hard look. The Cinoart PT2 not only does exactly that, but it might just be the best-automated tamper currently available.

For the sake of transparency, Cinoart did send me this unit for review, but that will not have any impact on the contents of this article or the opinions that I express.

Design

I really appreciate the simple minimal and mostly unbranded look that they went with.

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An automatic tamper is exciting from a workflow perspective, but I don’t necessarily think it’s an item that should draw too much attention to itself on a brew bar.

I’ve seen plenty of setups I liked using the more distinctively shaped puck press, but I think the Cinoart will be able to blend in with a wider range of gear visually.

With that being said, I do wish that the silver lid was done up in the same color as the rest of the body to give it an overall more uniform look. However, the silver version doesn’t have that same problem.

Apart from the very simple looks, the other thing that differentiates the PT2 is the warm glowing yellow light in the tamping area. 

While I do appreciate the more futuristic look that it gives, I kind of wish that they gave you the option to cycle through at least a couple of other colors other than yellow to match your own brew bar.

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If you don’t like ambient lighting at all, there is the possibility to turn that off.

Build Quality

The build quality of the PT2 was very good. The whole body is metal; it weighs 3.7 kilograms and is extremely rigid, as you would expect from something that can produce up to 38 kilograms of pressure.

Specifications

There is a rubber ring on the bottom to eliminate sliding and a removable rubber mat on the inside, which was a surprisingly useful feature for easy cleaning.

On top, several membrane buttons are used for the setup and recall of programs, and a digital display shows your current settings, with the left number showing the pressure and the right side showing the number of tamping cycles. More on that later 

The most intriguing feature about the PT2, at least for me, was their so-called guide leveling system, or GLS.

And despite being extremely gimmicky sounding, I’d realized that it was solving a very real problem.

Having a level tamp is probably one of the most important aspects of puck preparation, and maybe even why many people will opt for an automatic tamper.

With a traditional hand tamping, there’s always the opportunity to have an uneven tamp by moving either the portafilter, the tamper, or both.

On an automatic tamper, you’re guaranteed to have the tamping piston move straight up and down, but what I failed to realize is that there’s still the potential to tilt the portafilter relative to that piston.

This issue can be largely eliminated by properly adjusting the lower guides to hold the portafilter as tight as possible. 

However, it still needs to be able to slide in and out, and therefore there will always be some movement.

The GLS system adds a collar that comes down with the tamper and contacts the top edge of the filter basket. 

This forces the portafilter and basket into the perfect position relative to the damping piston.

This is a clever system that I think improves greatly on the basic cradle that most other systems use.

Tamping Pressures

The next spec that separates the Cinoart from its competitors is the range of available tamping pressures. 

It can be adjusted in one-kilogram increments, all the way from two kilograms up to a max of 38 kilograms. 

And while I don’t see myself using those min or max values all that often, I do appreciate that they’re available to me to possibly experiment and provide you guys with some interesting content in the future.

This brings us to the second headlining feature of the PT2, which is a multi-stage tamping. 

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The PT2 not only allows you to tamp once, twice, or even three times, but it also gives you the option to program in a different tamp pressure for each of those actuations.

Now multi-stage tamping is something that I use each and every time. I tamp twice to make sure that there are no loose grounds on top of my puck, which works great. 

But for the life of me, I could not find any concrete research on what the benefits of a multi-staged and multi-pressure tamp would be. Nor could I even think where I would start in trying to test that for myself.

I don’t think there’d be any appreciable benefits to tamping lightly first, just to tamp harder after or tamping lightly after already having tamped hard.

So I reached out to the company to try to get an idea of their motivation behind adding in that feature.

The response was we don’t know either whether it would have a positive impact, but it wasn’t that hard to add in, so we added it in. And to be quite honest, I respect that attitude.

It wasn’t hard to add, so we added it; if you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to. Fair enough.

User Experience

I think it’s important to remember that my brew bar is not necessarily the target audience for the PT2. 

A couple of things annoyed me that might not be such a big issue in a more commercial setting.

One of those things was that there was no dedicated power button. Instead, you need to hold down two seemingly randomly chosen buttons at the same time. 

In a cafe doing this once a day wouldn’t be an issue but at home, when it gets switched on and off more frequently, the experience wasn’t all that great.

My only other complaint was the layout and labeling of the buttons; they were far from intuitive. 

You have the option to program in three custom tamping profiles, but the buttons you use to recall those programs are already labeled 10 kilograms, 20 kilograms, and 30 kilograms.

The button you use to save the profile is labeled down because it is also used to put the piston into the cleaning position, and programming in a multi-pressure multi-stage program was a tough process.

But other than those complaints that center largely around the user interface, I’ve really been enjoying my time with the PT2.

It’s got some great built-in features like a shot counter and a cleaning mode that would be good for preventative maintenance in a cafe setting.

Final Thoughts

It’s got sleek looks, and it’s built like a tank. It has a class-leading range of available pressures; it has a buzzword feature in the GLS that works exactly as advertised. 

It also has a second buzzword feature in the multi-stage multi-pressure tamping that does work as advertised, but the jury is still out on whether you can improve your coffee quality with it.

It has undeniably added an additional layer of consistency and speed to my workflow. In combination with the Duomo WDT tool, I’m not sure you could ask for a more straightforward and repeatable puck prep experience.

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