To wrap up the review, below are the comments from Mike, owner of New World Cafe, after a week of using the PuqPress:
Mike Zhu wrote:The unit works as advertised, even on the bottomless portafilters we use. We've never had an issue with anyone's wrist hurting from tamping, but we use correct form and don't over tamp. I think the people that complain about that have some technique issues. Speed is about the same for me tamping or using the unit.
It's a great product, but a hard sell for the price for third wave cafes where tamping correctly is almost a right of passage for baristas. The one nice thing is that it leaves less grounds on the counter. Occasionally, coffee stuck to the tamper, leaving a divot on top of the coffee bed; a Teflon coating might help. It would be more appealing if the price were significantly lower. If US cafes wanted to eliminate inconsistencies, I think they'd go fully auto versus investing in barista aids.
Today I had another cars and coffee event, so I took the PuqPress along. At home pulling a few shots in a row, the PuqPress seemed
to streamline my workflow. Would the same impression hold when preparing drinks for a crowd?
One thing I've learned serving drinks at cars and coffee is that seconds add up when you have a line. Because of other events occurring at the same time, the turnout was lighter. However, there was a huge turnout last month:
There are 12 orders in the queue! Saving 10-15 seconds here and there can mean several less minutes to wait for the last in line. For a barista, getting the drinks out faster requires reducing "dead" time by switching to another task. For example, if you have a grinder with timer, use the seconds it takes to grind to do something else like fill the milk pitcher or flush the group (instead of standing there listening to the grinder).
While I agree with Mike that manual tamping is an integral part of the barista craft, I recognize that it requires extra motion and attention that the PuqPress eliminates. Whether shaving seconds off your routine by smoothing out a few movements are worth the price and counterspace are debatable. But as Mike commented, the PuqPress works as advertised, tamping quickly and consistently with ease.