The Mission is How to Domesticate…

Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas TalebWind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. 

Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos: you want to use them, not hide from them. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind. This summarizes this author’s nonmeek attitude to randomness and uncertainty. 

We just don’t want to just survive uncertainty, to just about make it. We want to survive uncertainty and, in addition-like a certain class of aggressive Roman Stoics-have the last word. The mission is how to domesticate, even dominate, even conquere, the unseen, the opaque, and the inexplicable. 


Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb

We have been working away at our tamper prototype 2.0 for some time now and with the parts in production we can safely step away from the work to share progress with you.

So the “Hammer” as we’re starting to call it, we like metal foundry equipment, is going to be a tamper that measures, records and provides live feedback on the levelness and forcefulness of your espresso tamps. This data is important because cup-to-cup consistency is paramount to building consumer trust that the barista is an expert in their craft and will lead them to delicious coffee beverages. Trust in the barista as a professional is one gateway to premium pricing, better wages, and growth for specialty coffee. We want to see coffee go through the same expansion that specialty beer went through the last 20 years. Today, not everyone is a beer snob, but almost everyone has a favorite, high-quality, craft beer made by a local brewer. We want this for coffee.

To get to consistency while maintaining artisanal cup crafting that is so integral to specialty coffee, we need equipment that helps domesticate the unseen in coffee crafting. Hammer will do this for tamping. Hammer is not intended to be your daily tamper, it is intended for training new staff, roastery training programs, and checking in on long running espresso programs to ensure the shop is executing at peak performance. By measuring, recording, and providing live feedback on the levelness and forcefulness of tamping, we hope new barista’s will master tamping quicker, and veterans will use it to squeeze that last ounce of perfection out of their craft. Below is a breakdown of the features we will have in prototype 2.0:

The tamper itself:

Hammer Tamper Assembly

The prototype comprises of an aluminum stem, mirror finished stainless steel head for tamping, an accelerometer and a force transducer. The sensors embedded in the stem of the tamper that measure levelness and forcefulness will, for this prototype, cord connect to a small box that houses the brains of the operation. From the box there will be live LED readouts that show the barista in realtime how hard they are pushing, whether they have met the force goal they set, and how level they’ve been tamping. The measurements will also be recorded and sent to a website for more in depth visualization, tracking, and learning. See below an example of our prototype site comps:

Hammer Tamp Website CompFrom the site a barista, trainer, shop owner, can review, learn, and analyze the data Hammer has recorded. What we’ve learned so far from prototype 1.0 feedback is that live feedback is great for correcting mistakes in realtime, and historical data reviews help solidify progress and identify areas of opportunity to dominate next tamp.

Our parts are due back on the 15th and we will take about a two weeks to assemble, test, and setup our first five prototype units. These five units are going to go out to some of our trusted partners in the industry for live field use 1st week of March. We will be  posting highlights from what will most certainly be a messy learning experience.

If you are interested in partaking in this prototype feedback round, please feel free to email Joe directly at and he’d be happy to discuss. To be clear this is not a finished product, it will cost a bit of money to get one (we’d pass them along at cost), and we’d like access to the recorded data so we can perfect our software for the production version. If you are bleeding edge kind of person, or really like what we are doing and want to help, this is the time to get involved.

Looking forward to the next month and hopefully making cup consistency more achievable.

One Response to “The Mission is How to Domesticate…”

  1. Joe
    February 10, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    Hey Randy, we’re pretty big on transparency over here and appreciate the sound criticism. Spot on.

    I agree that the product’s value in the marketplace is yet to be proven (hence the multiple prototyping phases). We are upfront about that fact and to get past this phase we must see value in the data, value expressed from the test users and improvement in a program’s consistency. With that said roughly 1 in 10 shots are lost somewhere in the creation chain, and those are the shots caught and thrown out before impacting customer trust. Many poor shots make it into a cup and consistency is lost in those moments. We are interested in making products that help specialty coffee get to consistency. If the tamper proves to be a poor place to start, we’ll search for the next spot. We think the inherent manual nature of tamping, relative to all the other steps in the creation process, leave it uniquely open to product improvement.

    I do agree that forcefulness is less important than levelness and lines do help ensure the grounds come out level, after tamp. Lines don’t help tamps come in level as you tamp which can cause shifting of settled grounds and a layer plane for channeling. We see the tamper as a small stepping stone in the pursuit of taming all variables that produce quality espresso, a place for a small tech company to have a start. Grinding, dosing, grooming, extraction, cupping, supply chain visibility, roasting profiles, are all chain links that can individually break and ruin a potentially good cup.

    I will definitely put a note down for you to test our next prototype. Hammer 2.0 is a bit rough cut and too early for an actual product review. Yes, you’re feature set questions are right in line with our roadmap. We need to see value in the data before spending the development time and money on those bells and whistles that will make this a truly great user experience.

    Really appreciate the comment and if you should ever like to talk in person, let me know and I’ll buy you a coffee.


    Joe Gallagher

Leave a Reply