James Alexander Hoffmann, or “Daddy Hoff” as he is often referred to in the specialty coffee community is one of the biggest and most recognizable names in the coffee space.
Born on December 11, 1979, he is a multifaceted individual who has significantly influenced the specialty coffee industry, particularly in the United Kingdom. He first gained international recognition after winning the World Barista Championship in 2007, a victory that marked the beginning of his ascent as a pioneer in Britain’s third-wave coffee movement.
Hoffmann’s contributions to the field are manifold; he is an entrepreneur, influencer, author, YouTuber, and coffee consultant. His co-founding of Square Mile Coffee Roasters in 2008 was a pivotal moment for specialty coffee in London, setting the stage for the city’s coffee revolution.
Beyond his entrepreneurial endeavors, Hoffmann has also made substantial contributions to coffee education and awareness. He has authored three books, including the critically acclaimed “The World Atlas of Coffee,” which has been translated into eight languages and sold over 320,000 copies.
His YouTube channel, with millions of subscribers, serves as a platform where he shares his extensive knowledge about various aspects of coffee, from the intricacies of brewing methods to in-depth equipment reviews. This blend of business acumen and educational outreach has solidified Hoffmann’s status as a leading authority in the global coffee community.
Before embarking on his influential journey in the coffee industry, James Hoffmann had a diverse and eclectic background that showcased his multifaceted interests and talents. Born and raised in Stafford, Staffordshire, he later moved to the scenic Lake District in North West England, where he spent his formative years. Hoffmann is an alumnus of Durham University, with a bachelor of arts degree.
Prior to his coffee career, Hoffmann explored various avenues that reveal a wide-ranging set of skills and interests. Notably, he worked as a croupier in a Leeds casino (1), a role that likely required a keen eye for detail and strong interpersonal skills.
In addition to this, Hoffmann also gained experience in the wine industry, a sector that, like coffee, demands a nuanced understanding of flavor profiles, terroir, and the complexities of production.
His early career even included a foray into the world of music; in 2003, he released an Extended Play (EP) under the stage name “King Seven” (2), which featured a blend of “bell chimes, panned-and-swirling acoustic guitars and careful, sometimes glitchy percussion choices.” This musical endeavor hints at a creative side that would later find another outlet in the world of specialty coffee.
Early Coffee Career
Daddy Hoff’s initial steps into the coffee industry were marked by a series of roles that laid the foundation for his future success and influence. One of his first jobs in the sector was as an espresso machine salesman for the Italian company Gaggia, stationed in the high-end department store Selfridges on Oxford Street in London.
This role not only provided him with a deep understanding of espresso machines but also offered him a platform to interact with a diverse clientele, honing his skills in customer engagement and education.
While working at Selfridges, Hoffmann had a serendipitous encounter with a television producer, which led to his appearance on the show “Trick or Treat,” hosted by Derren Brown.
This early media exposure hinted at Hoffmann’s future as a public figure in the coffee world. After his stint at Gaggia, he moved to another espresso machine manufacturer, La Spaziale, where he served as the national training manager for the UK (3). This role likely deepened his technical expertise and allowed him to engage in educational outreach, a theme that would recur throughout his career.
In 2004, Hoffmann started his popular blog “Jimseven,” which quickly gained traction within the coffee community. The blog served as an early platform for Hoffmann to share his insights and knowledge, and it eventually led to one of his published books.
Around the same time, he began competing in barista championships, winning the UK Barista Championship in 2006. This victory qualified him for the World Barista Championship (WBC), where he placed fifth in 2006. However, it was his subsequent win at the WBC in 2007 that catapulted him into the global spotlight and solidified his reputation as a leading expert in the field. His winning signature drink, a creative “flavour marriage” of tobacco and almonds, showcased his innovative approach to coffee brewing.
Here’s Hoffman’s 2007 World Barista Championship winning performance:
From Barista Champion to Coffee Entrepreneur
After achieving international recognition through his victory at the World Barista Championship in 2007, James Hoffmann transitioned into a new phase of his career that would further solidify his influence in the specialty coffee industry.
This period was marked by entrepreneurial ventures, most notably the co-founding of Square Mile Coffee Roasters in 2008 (4). Alongside his business partner Anette Moldvaer, Hoffmann established what would become one of London’s first wholesale specialty coffee companies, and later, its largest. Square Mile Coffee Roasters was not just a business; it was a platform for Hoffmann to enact his vision for what specialty coffee could be, both in terms of quality and ethical sourcing.
Square Mile Coffee Roasters
The company quickly gained a reputation for its commitment to quality and sustainability. It became a cornerstone in London’s burgeoning third-wave coffee scene, contributing to the city’s coffee revolution. Square Mile also had a knack for identifying and nurturing talent; the 2008 World Barista champion, Stephen Morrissey, was sponsored by the company, and in 2009, the winning beans at the championship also came from Square Mile.
Within Square Mile, Hoffmann continued to push the boundaries of the coffee experience. In 2010, he and his business partner Tim Williams temporarily opened a coffee bar called Penny University (5). This café was unique in that it featured no espresso drinks, opting instead to serve Hario V60 pour-overs, flannel drip, and siphon coffee. The venture was a testament to Hoffmann’s willingness to experiment and challenge conventional coffee norms.
Collaborations and Expansions
Square Mile’s influence extended beyond the UK when it collaborated with Cometeer in 2022 (6) to produce flash-frozen pucks of concentrated coffee. This marked the first time Square Mile’s coffee was available in the United States. The company also partnered with American specialty coffee company Fellow for a text-based coffee ordering service, further expanding its reach.
Business Acumen and Ethical Focus
Hoffmann’s entrepreneurial journey was not just about business growth; it was also about ethical considerations and sustainability. Square Mile was among the pioneers in advocating for direct trade and ethical sourcing practices, setting a standard for other companies to follow. Hoffmann’s business acumen was complemented by a strong ethical focus, making Square Mile a model for responsible entrepreneurship in the coffee industry.
This period of Hoffmann’s career, from a world champion barista to a successful coffee entrepreneur, was a natural progression that leveraged his deep expertise, innovative spirit, and ethical considerations. It showcased his ability to influence the coffee industry not just through individual skill but also through impactful business ventures.
From Blog to Bestsellers: Hoffmann’s Written Works
James Hoffmann’s influence in the coffee world extends beyond his entrepreneurial and competitive achievements; he has also made substantial contributions to coffee literature and education. His journey as an author can be traced back to his blog “Jimseven,” started in 2004, which quickly gained a following for its insightful and in-depth discussions on various aspects of coffee. The blog was not just a platform for Hoffmann to share his thoughts; it served as a precursor to his later, more formalized written works.
The World Atlas of Coffee
In 2014, Hoffmann published his first book, The World Atlas of Coffee, through Octopus Book Publishing Group. The book was an instant success, selling over a quarter of a million copies (7) and being translated into eight languages. It serves as a comprehensive guide to coffee, covering its history, varieties, growing methods, roasting, and preparation, with a focus on origin.
The book was critically well-received, with The Guardian describing it as “high geekery made palatable by the evident love pulsing through every sentence.” (8)
Best of Jimseven
In 2017, Hoffmann took a different approach by self-publishing his second book, Best of Jimseven, which was funded through an Indiegogo campaign (9). This book was a compilation of his popular blog and served as a testament to the impact and reach of his online writings. It allowed readers to have a curated collection of Hoffmann’s insights and expertise in a tangible format.
How to Make the Best Coffee at Home
Hoffmann’s most recent book, published in 2022, is How to Make the Best Coffee at Home. This book aims to demystify the process of making exceptional coffee in a home setting and has won a number of industry awards.
Impact and Recognition
Hoffmann’s written works have not only been commercially successful but have also garnered critical acclaim. They serve as educational resources for both industry professionals and coffee enthusiasts, contributing to the elevation of coffee knowledge and appreciation globally.
Through his blog and books, James Hoffmann has effectively bridged the gap between the coffee industry and the general public, making complex coffee concepts accessible and engaging. His written works are an extension of his passion for coffee and his commitment to education, making him a seminal voice in the world of coffee literature.
Digital Influence: The Rise of Hoffmann’s YouTube Channel
In addition to his entrepreneurial and literary contributions, James Hoffmann has also made a significant impact in the digital realm, particularly through his YouTube channel. Launched in 2016, the channel quickly gained traction and has garnered close to 2 million subscribers at the time of writing. Hoffmann’s channel serves as a vital platform for educating a global audience about the intricacies of specialty coffee.
Content and Style
Hoffmann’s YouTube channel covers a wide range of topics, from reviews of coffee equipment to evaluations of different brewing methods. What sets the channel apart is its unique blend of practicality, humor, and thoroughness.
Hoffmann’s distinct personal fashion, described by The Guardian as “gentle chaos,” adds to the channel’s appeal. His videos are not just informative; they are also highly engaging, making complex coffee concepts accessible to both novices and experts alike.
Patreon and Financial Independence
To maintain the integrity and impartiality of his reviews, Hoffmann uses the crowd-funding subscription service Patreon to support his channel. As of October 2023, he was making approximately $20,000 a month from more than 7,000 patrons. This financial independence allows him to purchase products for unbiased reviews and to invest in high-quality production, further enhancing the value he provides to his audience.
Awards and Recognition
Hoffmann’s digital influence has not gone unnoticed. In November 2022, his channel was nominated for that year’s Streamy Awards in the category of Cinematography.
Beyond the numbers and accolades, Hoffmann’s YouTube channel has fostered a strong community of coffee enthusiasts and professionals. It serves as a hub for discussions, questions, and the sharing of knowledge, thereby contributing to the global coffee culture in a meaningful way.
His cult following also started a subreddit dedicated to discussion of all things related to Daddy Hoff (10).
Other Ventures and Consulting
While James Hoffmann is best known for his contributions to the specialty coffee industry, his expertise and influence extend into other business ventures and consulting roles. These additional pursuits not only diversify his professional portfolio but also allow him to apply his deep understanding of coffee in innovative ways.
In 2014, Hoffmann co-founded Longberry Publishing with Ben Szobody and Jacob Forrest. The company aimed to produce an “occasional journal of coffee” available in both print and e-book formats. Although the company was closed in 2014 after publishing two editions, it showcased Hoffmann’s interest in contributing to coffee literature and journalism in multiple formats.
Tens Hundreds Thousands
Hoffmann also founded a company called Tens Hundreds Thousands, which specializes in selling limited-edition coffee-related products. This venture further illustrates his knack for identifying gaps in the market and creating unique, high-quality items that resonate with coffee enthusiasts.
Collaboration with Victoria Arduino
Since 2013, Hoffmann has been collaborating with Italian commercial espresso machine and grinder maker Victoria Arduino. This partnership has resulted in several products, including the Mythos One coffee grinder and the Black Eagle VA388 and Eagle One espresso machines. These collaborations focus on design simplicity and environmental friendliness, aligning with Hoffmann’s ethos of sustainability and innovation in coffee technology.
Barista Mylk: A Plant-Based Alternative
In a move to diversify and contribute to sustainability, Hoffmann consulted for Myracle Kitchen, a subsidiary of Nurture Brands LLC, to develop a plant-based dairy alternative called “Barista Mylk.” Released in June 2021, the product aims to replicate the taste, experience, and texture of cow’s milk, making it suitable for use in latte art. The formulation includes oats, fava beans, and coconut cream, reflecting Hoffmann’s commitment to ethical and sustainable practices.
Consulting for Various Coffee Ventures
Hoffmann’s expertise is often sought after for consulting roles in various coffee-related ventures. His deep understanding of the industry, from sourcing and roasting to brewing and serving, makes him a valuable asset for companies looking to elevate their coffee offerings or develop new products.
Legacy and Influence
James Hoffmann is more than just a barista, entrepreneur, author, or YouTuber; he is a multifaceted authority in the world of coffee whose influence transcends traditional boundaries.
His contributions have not only elevated the standards within the coffee industry but have also democratized coffee knowledge, making it accessible to enthusiasts and professionals alike. Whether it’s through his award-winning books, his popular YouTube channel, or his various business ventures and consulting roles, Hoffmann has left an indelible mark on the global coffee landscape.
As of 2023, James Hoffmann continues to innovate, educate, and inspire, solidifying his legacy as one of the most influential figures in the modern coffee world. His work serves as a beacon for what is possible when passion meets expertise, and it is clear that his impact will be felt for generations to come.
- James Hoffman Retrieved from Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Hoffmann
- King Seven Hidden EP Retrieved from Last.fm https://www.last.fm/music/King+Seven/Hidden+EP
- WBC Champion James Hoffman East Coast Tour Retrieved from Home Barista forum https://www.home-barista.com/cafes/wbc-champion-james-hoffmann-east-coast-tour-march-2-15-t6137.html
- About Square Mile Retrieved from Square Mile Coffee https://shop.squaremilecoffee.com/pages/about
- Penny University a London shrine to filter coffee Retrieved from YoungAndFoolish https://youngandfoodish.com/penny-u-a-london-shrine-to-filter-coffee/
- Square Mile Coffee Pods Retrieved from Cometeer https://cometeer.com/roaster/square-mile
- The World Atlas of Coffee Retrieved from Easons https://www.easons.com/the-world-atlas-of-coffee-james-hoffmann-9781784724290
- Best Food Literature 2014 Retrieved from The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/dec/06/best-food-literature-2014
- The Best of Jimseven Book Retrieved from Indiegogo https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-best-of-jimseven-book#/
- James Hoffman subreddit Retrieved From Reddit https://www.reddit.com/r/JamesHoffmann/
Coffee expert and industry insider, I’ve dedicated years to mastering the art and science of coffee making. From scrutinizing particle fineness to evaluating burr shapes, I delve into the minutiae that elevate coffee from good to exceptional. Whether it’s a complex pour-over or a robust espresso, my insights cater to those who don’t just drink coffee, but experience it.