What is the Weiss Distribution Technique and should you use it when making coffee?

Vietnamese Coffee Exporter
What is the Weiss Distribution Technique

What is the Weiss Distribution Technique: When it comes to pulling espresso shots, a myriad of variables comes into play: dose, yield, extraction time, and grind size. Yet, amidst these crucial factors, we mustn’t overlook the significance of puck preparation techniques – notably, distribution and tamping.

Effective distribution and tamping are the bedrock for achieving consistent extraction and unlocking the full potential of your coffee.

During his triumphant performance at the 2022 World Barista Championship (WBC), Australian contender Anthony Douglas showcased meticulous use of distribution and tamping tools preceding his espresso extraction. Notably, he employed a tool tailored for the Weiss Distribution Technique (WDT).

What exactly is this technique, and why did Anthony incorporate it into his routine? Furthermore, should more coffee establishments adopt these advanced distribution and tamping methods?

To delve deeper into these questions, I reached out to Anthony for insights. Read on to discover his perspectives.


Before delving into the intricacies of the Weiss Distribution Technique (WDT) and its counterparts, it’s crucial to grasp the paramount importance of distribution in espresso preparation.

To craft exceptional espresso, coffee must be ground finely, amplifying the surface area of the particles. This finer grind is essential due to the rapid extraction process facilitated by high-pressure water in espresso brewing, offering a narrow window to extract the desired flavors and aromas compared to other brewing methods like filtration.

However, the fine grind size for espresso can lead to clumping, where coffee grounds adhere together, potentially causing extraction issues such as channeling.

In coffee establishments worldwide, baristas employ various methods to distribute grounds within a portafilter before extraction. The conventional technique involves tapping the portafilter basket against a hand or counter surface, repeated until clumps disperse, ensuring an even distribution of grounds.

While this method proves efficient, especially during peak hours, it may not consistently yield optimal results.

Enter the WDT, requiring the use of a fine needle or analogous implement to agitate coffee grounds within the portafilter basket. Typically equipped with around five needles, WDT tools effectively disperse clumps and ensure uniform density of the grounds.

Originating from John Weiss’s 2005 innovation, spurred by the clumping tendencies of certain home grinders, the WDT has gained widespread adoption among baristas and coffee aficionados alike.

During his 2022 WBC performance, Anthony utilized a custom WDT tool developed by Barista Hustle, not currently available commercially. This device, mounted atop the portafilter and lowered to allow its needles to traverse the basket’s depth, enables thorough agitation by simply rotating the handle, ensuring impeccable distribution of grounds.


Anthony staunchly advocates for the Weiss Distribution Technique (WDT) as the paramount method for baristas seeking optimal distribution.

“It’s unequivocally the best technique I’ve utilized because it ensures uniform distribution of ground coffee from top to bottom and side to side,” he affirms. “Consequently, I’ve consistently achieved superior results with this approach.”

But what are the essential steps for achieving stellar results with the WDT?

Primarily, the choice of tool warrants consideration, particularly the dimensions and robustness of the needles. Ideally, the needles should strike a balance—thin enough to navigate the grounds effectively yet sturdy to withstand rigorous use. Experts suggest needles no wider than 1mm to ensure even distribution.

Furthermore, all needles must reach the bottom of the portafilter basket to disperse grounds uniformly throughout its entirety. Inadequate needle length may restrict distribution to the surface, risking issues like channeling.

Anthony elaborates on the configuration of the WDT tool he employed in the 2022 WBC, noting that its strategically spaced needles enabled comprehensive distribution in a single rotation. This, he explains, facilitated a consistent flavor profile, with notes of blackberry notably pronounced.

“They aid in ‘fluffing’ up the grounds, easing distribution,” he elucidates. “Compact grounds are more challenging to distribute effectively before tamping.”

During his championship routine, Anthony spun his WDT tool for just under ten seconds, a technique he credits for enhancing distribution uniformity.

However, caution is warranted during the WDT process to avoid over-agitation, which can compromise results. Anthony underscores the importance of a measured and deliberate approach to stirring for optimal outcomes.


In addition to distribution, the significance of mastering tamping techniques cannot be overstated.

At its essence, tamping entails exerting force onto ground coffee in a portafilter basket to create a compact puck. However, uneven tamping of distributed coffee can lead to an irregular puck formation, subsequently impeding espresso extraction quality.

Precision in tamping extends beyond mere force application; consideration of the tamper’s design is equally imperative. With a plethora of options available—from convex to flat, calibrated to automated tampers—the selection process can significantly impact the tamping outcome.

In recent years, innovations like height-adjustable levelling tampers, exemplified by the Nucleus Coffee Distribution tool pioneered by the 2015 World Barista Champion Sasa Sestic, have revolutionized tamping practices. These tampers, featuring angled slopes instead of a flat base, facilitate a circular motion, enhancing puck evenness.

Regardless of tamper type, achieving a snug fit within the portafilter basket is paramount. Many industry experts advocate for a tamper diameter approximately 0.3mm smaller than that of the portafilter basket to ensure comprehensive tamping coverage. An ill-fitting tamper risks uneven tamping or, conversely, may become lodged, disturbing the coffee puck.

In his championship-winning routine, Anthony employed a meticulous two-step tamping process. He initially utilized a levelling tamper, followed by a Great Leveller spring-loaded tamper.

“The calibrated tamper I utilized in my routine boasts an outer rim diameter of 58.5mm, enabling it to rest on the portafilter basket’s edge,” Anthony explains. “Its spring-loaded mechanism ensures consistent compression of coffee grounds, maintaining a level tamp and mitigating the risk of uneven tamping.”


Anthony advocates for broader adoption of the WDT among baristas in coffee shops.

“While proper tamping technique is fundamental, integrating the WDT enhances consistency,” he asserts.

Implemented correctly, the WDT facilitates more uniform extraction, resulting in superior-quality beverages.

“When performed manually, executing the WDT for every drink can be challenging, so it might be reserved for higher-end coffees,” Anthony suggests. “However, utilizing a WDT tool akin to the one employed at the 2022 WBC streamlines the process significantly.”

Moreover, the proliferation of automated tampers in coffee shops streamlines tamping, particularly during peak hours.

“Although manual tamping yields superior results in my experience, during busy periods, automated tampers like the PUQpress enhance workflow efficiency,” Anthony notes.