Gym people often say "no pain, no gain" but in the coffee world, this is not actually the norm. If you have an exercise phobia, this post might not be for you.
Let's talk about tamping, the art of perfectly pressing ground coffee evenly into a portafilter. Let's be kind and gentle to ourselves and this artform, we don't want any strained wrist joints from over tamping or pressing at the wrong angle. That would be an embarrassing confession, that no one would ever believe. Being awkward every day is nice as long as it's your personality and not your muscles. So if you're dealing with wrist pain, that's it. Enough is enough.
Use your weight, not your wrist
If you can, try to set your portafilter at waist height and throw your weight as a pressure by turning perpendicular to the bar. I know we sound weirdly specific here, but look, this might help you.
An important ergonomic factor here is that your wrist should be aligned with your forearm, try to pay close attention to this. Then all you've got to do is to tamp, making sure that the grounds are spread and tamped evenly, failure to do this will mean the coffee won't be extracted perfectly. Water always chooses the quickest way down and should there be a pocket of less compact coffee, that's the route it's going, to the downfall of your brew.
Warm today, be pain-free tomorrow
Should you want to add a little drama and tension to your brewing you could always warm up first. Put some Enya on, gently rotate your wrists, flex and extend your fingers, and perform circular motions with your wrists before you start tamping. If you're not able to adjust the height as we suggested above, warming up may come in handy.
We know, it's not as easy as it looks and as tampers designers, we are here to help. Should you have issues with the even tamping, try a distributor tool. Looks like a tamper, but it's a heavy gadget for flattening before you tamp. This one is a 58mm distributor, simply place on your heap of ground coffee and spin it a couple of times.