I've been a barista for a little over ten years now. That's ten years of the same motions, day after day: pulling, pushing, twisting, standing, squatting, lifting, shaking. In addition to building up a virtual immunity to liquid burns, I know that I've probably submitted myself to an elevated risk of repetitive motion injury.
Lots of baristas can probably empathize with me when I confess: My wrist hurts. I'm behind the espresso machine a lot less nowadays (thanks to my incredible crew), but whenever I pull 8 hours behind the bar, I feel the pain, numbness, or throbbing in my right wrist almost immediately, and usually some time after that for at least the next few days.
I've toyed around with ergonomics. I've changed body positioning with tamping, locking in portafilters, etc. I've read articles and watched videos, paid attention to my movements and done stretches. But through it all I haven't been able to shake the recurring pain.
There have been articles about this issue for baristas, reported by Sprudge, Fresh Cup, even the New York Post. Most people who investigate barista injury point out that the act of tamping is probably one of the key culprits, so some companies have tried to be innovative in tamper design to try to reduce the likelihood of tamping-related strain and injury. Last year we purchased a first-edition PUSH tamper, which quickly became my go-to tamping device. But even though my motions and wrist felt better overall, I'd still have nagging pain every now and then.
After a recent conversation with some of my staff, I realized almost every one of us experienced wrist pain, but we just didn't talk about it a lot. So when the Puqpress started being distributed in the United States, I contemplated investing in one for the sake of barista health.
We got our Puqpress yesterday. It's only been less than 24 hours, but I have to admit I'm super pleased with it so far. The machine tamps the coffee grounds quickly, evenly, and without any significant wrist/arm movement needed. The true test will come over the next few months to see if wrist pain gets better or stays the same. Either way, one added benefit to the Puqpress is that our overall espresso consistency is improved - tamping variance is less of a factor in producing great-tasting shots of espresso.