A Visit to Dana's Tamperista Workshop

A Visit to Dana's Tamperista Workshop

Posted by Liz Clark on 05/01/2013

Dana Paul demonstrating his woodworking tools

Recent Barista Competitor Lanny Huang and I went to visit the shop of Dana Paul of Tamperista, the man who has been custom making Barista tampers over the past few years. Dana began the quest to create a tool that would best fit the Barista, by removing the need to compensate for a one size fits all instrument, which would allow Baristas to fully immerse themselves in their craft.

When I first got to know Dana he was absolutely enamored with the precision, focus, passion and resulting deliciously crafted product created by a skilled Barista. He already had hours of observational notes, of how people were tamping, the shape their hand was taking, and the motions they went through. He then began combining information to look at how to fit a tamper to a hand combined with personal preferences of each Barista.

Pieces of wood in various colors and shapes, stacked up at Dana's workshop

This is where it starts -- the playground! It's not just fit, form, and function. Dana looks for the sweet spot where the wood reveals it's unique beauty. Similar to what drives Baristas when dialing in a coffee.

Jatoba wood, shown from two different angles to display way the color changes at different angles of light

Check this out. This is the Jatoba wood that was used to make Lanny's tamper. When cut at the right angle the wood as a holographic effect, where it fluctuates between a deep burgundy and a warm light brown.

Tamper handles in the process of assembly

The fitting process starts with a Barista trying out several different tampers for size and shape, looking for a good start on what they like and don't like. Dana also measures four points on the hand, the length of palm to forefinger, center of palm to pinky, length of palm to end of middle and the space between the two fleshy mounds on the back of the palm. He keeps a record of hand shapes and sizes and hopes to find correlations from palm measurements to tamper design, making long distance custom tamper work more efficient.

A case full of dozens of beautiful, highly polished, custom tamper handles

Dana has a passion for figuring out the puzzles toward creating a beautiful, functional piece. It's not just a clean inlay, it's the direction of the grain in relation to the rest of the wood. He makes custom tools and jigs for each tamper, one series of inlays had a dizzying number of rotations and cuts that he couldn't, "duplicate it if [he] tried." Which just gives a glimpse into the work, or fun, Dana puts into his tampers and researching ergonomics. He just wants to create a beautiful tool that will be appreciated by a person who has the same passion toward their craft.