Author, blogger and World Barista Champion James Hoffmann is returning to the printed page with “The Best of Jimseven”, Hoffmann's popular coffee blog that is now in its fourteenth year of coffee blogginess. Hoffmann is self-publishing the collection through crowdfunding website IndieGoGo, and you can pre-order your copy now for 25 quid.
We last caught up with Hoffmann on the Coffee Sprudgecast at the 2016 London Coffee Festival, at which time we ate cascara chocolate and broke bread with chaff butter. We met again electronically from London and Portland (respectively) to discuss his new book.
Hi James. For starters, what’s the deal with the name “jimseven”?
I used to make music under the name of Lomax, and as I was about to release my first record another band called Lomax released their debut. So I needed a new name quickly. I was a croupier at the time, and whenever I used to play Texas Hold 'em my pocket cards always seemed to be a king and a seven, and I just liked how those words sounded together.
When I needed to register my first blog at blogspot I just changed the king to Jim (people called me Jim instead of james back then), and that was that…
In your earliest days, you said the blog would be about coffee and maybe music. Where’s the music, James?
I realised fairly early on that I wasn't going to make a living making music. I enjoyed it, had some amazing experiences meeting people and performing. I still tinker but I just haven't the time to dedicate to it in the last few years.
If you could travel back in time and take a James Hoffmann Textured Milk Course in 2004, what would you tell your younger you?
Don't overestimate the importance of coffee knowledge, differentiate between genuine knowledge and coffee trivia, and don't let an all consuming passion consume your hobbies, friends or life.
Let’s talk about your blog. What is the most popular “jimseven” post? Not so much in terms of raw data—but maybe? Perhaps the most talked about. That kind of popular.
The Nespresso blog post was the first time that traffic properly broke my blog. Over the years the attempts to make the science of coffee and milk have remained popular. (In terms of raw data the most popular search term is a misspelling of my name…)
What has been the most polarizing post?
I think the post titled The Naturals Debate was a highlight of discussion, informed disagreement and effective argument. I don't miss having comments on the blog any more but that particular post's success was entirely dependent on some of the best and brightest in coffee wanting to contribute their thoughts and ideas in a public, transparent way.
Why release a book now?
I thought about doing it for the ten year anniversary, but eleven is a better number. People has asked over the years, and I think the [World Coffee] Atlas gave me a better understanding of the process.
More than that, going back through the archives reminded me that there was a lot of content of which I was proud, but that was incredibly hard to discover. The ebook version came first, as a kind of digest of the blog. Structured, edited, given a narrative arc or at least some linear structure.
I've been hesitant to monetise the blog over the years. I've never done sponsored posts, or had ads on the site. I don't mind that it has cost me money to run over the years because that investment has been returned many times over (I think everyone should have a blog!). It'll probably be another eleven years before I ask for this kind of support again…
The hardback is limited because not everyone wants a physical thing, but I feel that if you're going to kill a tree to make a book then you should make something beautiful that people should want to own and keep for years. That's what I'm trying to do. Hence doing just one run ever. I like things that have an ending to them, a sense of completion.
You’re self-publishing your book, financed by crowdfunding. In the three days the IndieGogo campaign has been up, you’ve reached 75%! You’re going to need to print more books!
The support has been amazing, and I'm very grateful. I'm hoping it hits its targets soon and I can look at some stretch goals!
Zachary Carlsen is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Zachary Carlsen on Sprudge.