A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 05, 2014
Barista Elbow (Barista Wrist)

"Barista elbow” is an affliction defined in 2008 as a result from “the motion of yanking the portafilter to secure it onto the espresso machine or applying proper pressure to tamp the espresso grounds.” The name “barista elbow” (cited in print since at least 2003) is similar to the name “tennis elbow.”

Baristas also suffer pain in their wrists. The term “barista wrist” has been cited in print since at least 2008.


Google Groups: alt.coffee
grind vs. tamp
Don Task
1/10/03
To eliminate frustration, (especially for newbies)... adopt a tamping technique, style and pressure and sticking with it is the way to go. In other words you need to calibrate the “Barista Elbow”. For newbies this technique works better than standing over the PF. Standing over the PF and leaning your body into the tamper can excerpt 100 pounds or more depending on how much you weigh and how far you lean into it.

Chicago (IL) Tribune
Barista diaries
10 things you may not know about the men and women who make your latte

April 28, 2008
(...)
5. They suffer work-related injuries.
There’s a thing called “barista elbow,” much like tennis elbow, which can result from the motion of yanking the portafilter to secure it onto the espresso machine or applying proper pressure to tamp the espresso grounds, said Andy Atkinson of Italian Coffee Bar.

Ask MetaFilter
Barista elbow?!
June 11, 2008 7:23 PM
Help! I am a barista and my elbow hurts! What should I do?

My elbow started aching after shifts a couple of weeks ago. It was minor, it would go away within a couple of hours. I started using a lighter tamp, which seemed to help for a while. Yesterday, it hurt for longer. This morning, I adjusted my grind so that I could tamp very lightly, but still, by the end of my shift, almost each time I tamped there was a slight pain in my elbow, much like I had hit my funny bone, but nowhere near as severe. Also, sometimes there is a slight tingling in my hand.
(...)
posted by waltzing astronomers to Health & Fitness
(...)
The “barista wrist/elbow” was quite common in my coffeeshops until we learned this trick.
Please memail me if this was not at all coherent. I, myself, would likely need a video/live demonstration to truly comprehend such instruction grin
posted by eiramazile at 8:27 PM on June 21, 2008

Barista Exchange
Barista Elbow Anyone else have it?
Posted by Mitch Buckner - Bella Caffe on June 16, 2009 at 11:32am
Just wondering if anyone out there is suffering from what I call Barista’s Elbow. Basically its Tennis Elbow but the only thing I can figure out is its from a combination of knocking, tamping, slapping the portafilter off the machine & then stirring drinks & pulling frozen cappuccinos out of the frozen drink machine...all done with my right hand. My elbow has started killing me over the last few months & this week its been pretty bad.
(...)
Reply by Michael Canton on June 16, 2009 at 11:04pm
I’m not too sure about Barista’s Elbow, but I know that I am suffering from Barista’s Wrist. As hard as it was for me, that only way to really fix it is to change your method during operation. I know how difficult this is, but I promise you that as soon as you change you will definitely feel it in the elbow. Good luck

Twitter
nick jeanette
‏@vegannick
Has barista elbow! http://myloc.me/3tkwX
6:02 PM - 3 Feb 2010

Food Republic
Jul 29, 2011 8:31 am
COFFEE CULTURE
Barista Wrist: It’s Real!
The hottest new hazardous occupation? Making coffee

BY CHANTAL MARTINEAU
These days, at serious coffee bars, it’s not uncommon to see a barista brandishing a portafilter tattoo on her arm (that’s the cup with the handle that the ground espresso gets tamped into before being locked into the head of the machine). It’s as much a fashion statement as a badge of honor among the new breed of professional craft baristas. Another sight you might come across is a barista wearing an elbow or wrist guard. This one is not quite a fashion statement; it’s what’s prescribed when coffee bar workers fall prey to the repetitive strain injury (RSI) commonly known as “barista wrist.”
(...)
“’Bartista wrist’ is just tendonitis,” explains Gabrielle Rubinstein-Cheong, who owns Joe the Art of Coffee in New York, with her brother, Jonathan. “If you’re getting it, you probably are using a tamping method that’s slightly off-balance. Your entire arm should be in a position where the pressure is evenly distributed so that your wrist is hardly getting any pressure at all. So, if someone is just using their wrist to tamp, they’re going to get sore pretty quickly. I know that because eight years ago, when I started baristaing, I would get it. But someone showed me a way to avoid it.”

New York (NY) Post
Baristas feeling the grind with repetitive stress injuries
By Maureen Callahan May 4, 2014 | 1:20am
You’ve heard of tennis elbow — but barista elbow?

As the demand for specialty coffee drinks continues to grow — in the United States alone, it’s a $30-billion-a-year business — java slingers are suffering severe injuries.

“I grabbed a gallon full of milk and felt a sharp pain in my left wrist,” says Samantha Lino, 23, a former Starbucks barista. “I struggled not to drop it.”

That was last June. The pain kept Lino up all through the night, and the next day she couldn’t move her arm. She went to the doctor right away.

“She said it was medial epicondylitis” — golfer’s elbow, caused in this case by the repetitive stress of lifting heavy pitchers of milk and making multi-step drinks in complicated machines.

Eater
Baristas Are at Risk for Repetitive Stress Injuries from Making Coffee
Monday, May 5, 2014, by Khushbu Shah
Turns out a baristas biggest problem isn’t a customer’s complicated coffee order but instead repetitive stress injuries commonly known as “barista wrist.” The New York Post interviewed a 23-year old Starbucks barista who developed “medical epicondylitis” which is also known as “golfer’s elbow” or “barista elbow” from the “repetitive stress of lifting heavy pitchers of milk and making multi-step drinks in complicated machines.” The barista was forced to wear an arm brace until the pain was so bad she had to quit. Six months later her arm was still in a sling and she “takes up to 12 Motrin a day.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Bakeries/Food Stores • Monday, May 05, 2014 • Permalink