Special gravel coverage

Portland bike component manufacturer now makes an espresso tamper

Posted by on December 6th, 2010 at 11:42 am

Chris King Espresso Tamper-3

The new Chris King Espresso Tamper
awaiting action at Red E Cafe
in North Portland.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Portland-based manufacturer Chris King Precision Components now makes an espresso tamper. If the release of a precision coffee component by a bike company seems strange to you, you are probably not familiar with Chris King — the man or the company.

Chris King has always been a gourmet kind of guy. His passion for fine food and drink mirrors the passion for high-quality components that has made his name famous to a global legion of bike enthusiasts. King combines these loves in his annual Gourmet Century. Known as “The most civilized bike ride in the country,” Chris King has personally catered this event for over a decade.

Also of note is that Chris King has been selling salt and pepper shakers made from their hub shells for years now.

Chris King Espresso Tamper-2

Precision tamping.
(Photo © J. Maus

King’s latest pursuit is the art and science of coffee-making. And, as you’d expect, he has developed the espresso tamper with same exacting attention to details that have made his company’s tools, hubs and headsets the industry standard for over 30 years. Here’s a company blurb about the new tampers:

“Our espresso tamper is born from an appreciation of the coffee making process as much as the coffee it produces. We worked in collaboration with the Portland, Oregon based American Barista & Coffee School to develop a professional grade espresso tamper with precise dimensions, exceptional feel, and the iconic shape that every cyclist recognizes as the very best.”

And of course they come in a variety of colors:

And here’s the spec sheet:

The Chris King Espresso Tamper is 100% made in Portland and retails for $75.00. You can see them in action at three Portland coffee houses: The Red E Cafe, Heart, and Water Avenue Coffee.

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Rob December 6, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I’m just imagining their next offering will be a $400 French press based on a headset installation tool.

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  • MLS December 6, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    … and it will be the finest ever made!

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  • Uncle Muscles December 6, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Phallic and overpriced? I’ll take two

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  • rigormrtis December 6, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    I’ve done the Gourmet Century twice. I hate to say it, there actually is too much food.

    Would kill for a pair of salt&pepper shakers.

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  • Tony Pereira December 6, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    What does it take for people not to scream “overpriced!” whenever a nicely made product appears here on Bike Portland? These compare in price to the industry standard “Reg Barber” tampers that most baristas in town already use. Nice stuff costs money to make and there’s no point producing a product that doesn’t make you a profit.

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    • David December 6, 2010 at 1:00 pm


      I’m not in the coffee biz anymore, but if you’re a cafe owner or barista, this a more than reasonable investment in a finely made tool that will be used by you and your staff every single day for many years. Most people working in artisan coffee understand this philosophy, and if they don’t…well, they don’t last very long in that niche market. It’s the same reason craft cafes invest in tools like a Synesso or a La Marzocco when there are clearly cheaper alternatives on the market.

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  • Tourbiker December 6, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    they look great, Stainless base..Balance must be very nice. Cheaper versions may be eventually filtering out there….One comes to mind….FSA -The Pig tamper.

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  • Jack December 6, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Uncle Muscles
    Phallic and overpriced? I’ll take two

    Chris King Precision Adult Accessories?

    …though the tamper would probably double just fine, assuming its dishwasher safe.

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  • Brad December 6, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Tony – these tampers, along with your fine handcrafted bikes, are accessible only to the monied bourgeoisie and that greatly offends the bike riding revolutionary proletariat.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 6, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Hey folks,

    Thanks for all the comments. Just want you to know that I’m watching these carefully and I won’t allow them to go much further in terms of class stereotypes or veiled references of any kind. Thanks.

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  • Daniel December 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    If this tamper is anything like their headsets, it will last a lifetime. Sure it is more expensive than some other tampers, but you won’t have to buy a new one every 20 years.

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  • boneshaker December 6, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    What? No purple?

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  • Brad December 6, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Really, Jonathan? I applaud your efforts to get rid of the overt negativity, name calling, and petty pissing matches. I thought the stereotypical PoliSci 101 language was a dead giveaway that my take was in jest. Who writes like that and expects to be taken seriously?

    Gosh o’golly that looks like a swell tamper! Yay bikes!

    DISCLAIMER: that last line was in jest and not a disparagement or endorsement of Chris King Components, their network of dealers, American coffee retailers, or any persons living or dead. It was, however, a playful jab at Jonathan Maus and BikePortland.org. (place optional emoticon here)

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 6, 2010 at 2:51 pm


      I have read about 200,000 comments in the last five years and have published over 7,000 articles. I know that sometimes it’s better to err on the side of being proactive in some situations instead of just letting things slip down the slope. That’s all i was trying to do. Thanks.

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  • Patrickz December 6, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Loved that last exchange! The tampers are gorgeous. I am waiting for their wine bottle openers and anything else.

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  • New Biker Grrl December 7, 2010 at 6:00 am

    It’s the ultimate gift for the fixie-hipster on your list who has everything. 😉

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  • peejay December 7, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Of course, since they refuse to make a fixed-gear version of the tamper, I will not be purchasing one.

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    • rigormrtis December 7, 2010 at 11:23 am


      that’s the one reason I WOULD get one.

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  • nuovorecord December 7, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Overlooked in all of this banter, is the fact that these tampers have sealed, easily serviceable bearings, warranted for 10 years.

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  • David Parsons December 7, 2010 at 9:06 am

    It’s a vanity item targeted for people who have a lot of disposable income and wish to show it off. But in its favor it is locally made and some small amount of the money goes to some skilled local machinist (who might otherwise be laid off? If Chris King is making this sort of consumer trinket does that mean the market for their hubs and headsets are softening?)

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 7, 2010 at 9:17 am


      Thanks for sharing your opinion. I’m not sure if you’re aware of it or not, but the production of coffee is a major business here in Portland and many other cities. The professionals who take part in this production – also known as baristas – demand high-quality tools that do the job well and will last a long time.

      And as for Chris King’s business.. I think extending their product line is the opposite — it shows they are such a solid company that they can begin to expand into other areas.

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      • aaronf December 7, 2010 at 10:49 am

        It looks harder to clean than a typical tamper. The ribbed head isn’t so bad, but the allen key hole? I wouldn’t want that.

        I did the barista gig for years in several different coffee shops in my college days. As long as the tamping surface is round and is a good fit for the portafilteryou’re good. Someone might have a weight preference, which might make the aluminum tamper feel a little weird, but I don’t thing it would bother me.

        This is great for the coffee shop that wants to cash in on having a bike friendly, novelty tamper.

        I’m all about getting the right tools for a job. Marzocco? Sure…. but to me this is like a $75 solid stainless steel hammer with an aluminum plated handle and a ribbed claw, when a $30 hammer will do the same job just fine.

        I wasn’t going to say anything, but reading all of these “you have to invest in order to get quality” arguments seem off base in this case.

        I hope Chris sells a ton of them to you guys. Everyone who buys one will pay the price of bicycle fashion when they are trying to get oily coffee residue out of that allen key hole.

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  • DK December 7, 2010 at 9:13 am

    What is a reasonable cost to keep your neighbors employed? Should everything in the retail space be made overseas so that we can afford it?

    Buy American. Spend a little more for a quality product and the piece of mind that you’re helping your fellow countrymen prosper.

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  • Jeff TB December 7, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Overpriced?What is a reasonable cost to keep your neighbors employed? Should everything in the retail space be made overseas so that we can afford it?

    I agree DK. Buy less stuff and make sure it’s quality and will last. Why do people seem to need one of everything?

    But, of course, I’m bourgeoisie. So, I deserve to have it all(!)

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  • Jim F December 7, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Um, if you think it is overpriced, don’t buy one. I like that Chris King is having some fun.

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  • Elliot December 7, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Any explanation of why the tamper in the photos being used at the Red E Cafe is such a different design than the ones available in their online store?

    I’m not in the market for an espresso tamper, but if I were, the “iconic” Chris King colors would be a turn off, and I’d rather have the more formal-looking tamper in the first two photos.

    Now, my obligatory jab at the price tag:

    $75 for an espresso tamper seems pretty reasonable when you compare it to a $120 set of salt and pepper shakers. At least the tamper has some heft to it, and can double as a paper weight to hold down all those stacks of money that the people who buy these surely have sitting around their house.

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