A new wave of hockey puck-shaped espresso tampers have been all the rage for a couple of years, but it seems there may be more going on than just the latest barista trend. A recently published article in The International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics argues the tamping posture of baristas using flat espresso tampers allows for more neutral spine and upper limb postures, which results in less strain-related injuries over time.
The study was done with ten experienced baristas who were outfitted with electromagnetic sensors on their spines. They were then asked to tamp ten times with both a conventional and flat espresso tamper. According to their findings, “tamping with the flat tamper resulted in more neutral thoracic and lumbar spine postures and reduced force applied when using the flat tamper.”
In years of training baristas, it’s been my experience that tamping-related stress is one of the main causes of injuries on bar. I’ve seen baristas who have had to wear wrist braces and teach themselves to tamp with their non-dominant hand. At the Compass, we’re already a fan of the PUSH tamper for its consistent, level tamp and ease of use. If flat tampers result in less injury, than they will be a welcome change of pace for many working baristas.
La Marzocco is paying to allow the public to access the article. The tampers, which are made in the UK, now feature free shipping worldwide.
*A previous version of this article incorrectly identified La Marzocco as a shareholder in Clockwork Espresso. We regret the error.