Question for James Hoffman.


If I think back to a few frantic posts ago, I remember the post by James Hoffman, when he put out the following query in regards to competition. At which time the post seemed, oddly enough, to coincide with Intelligentsia’s success in the United States Barista Competition.

Whether or not Jame’s hand hovered over the enter key as the results of the USBC were called out, is not my question ( he implies it). Also, James was very forthcoming in his initial post with his estimations of cost, I am just wondering if there is more.

My question;

In light of how forthcoming Doug Zell was in his estimations to the cost of competition, would James extend us the same courtesy and divulge what he and Annette have spent each year (now that they have been tied up with the WBC winners since 07) on coaching, roasting/ cost of roasting and more importantly in time spent away from their business.

My post is not meant to be inflammatory at all, it is meant to be in the same context as Jame’s post.  I can’t help but wonder, what did they spend on Stephen Morrissey and the 2009 WBC champ Gwilym Davis?

Three years of producing winners has to have had some sort of toll on his hip pocket, or has it?

I don’t know.

Congratulations to Gwilym, James and Annette they really deserve all the accolades they recieve.


  1. It is tricky to calculate some of them. I should probably just go for things I have receipts for!

    2006/Berne was pretty expensive for me personally, though I had a lot of help from La Spaziale at the time. Mayb £800 to £1000 for the year’s competition from regional to WBC>

    2007/Tokyo was more expensive. 2 sacks of greens, covering more costs w/ travel etc (The UKBC budget went a long way, but not all the way), so I guess that including the whole year it was probably £2,000 including things like centrifuge rental for the UK and extra costs in Tokyo.

    2008/Copenhagen was much more expensive – tricky to calculate greens costs as some stuff we bought in to try for competition but at the same time we were developing our espresso blend too. Cost of car hire, driving/fuel and other stuff mounted up and there wasn’t really any budget from the IBC to cover any costs, and the UK offered me £63 for my ‘flight’ to represent the UK in the cupping competition (I never bothered claiming this though!). We bought a grinder and modded it too, though obviously kept it after. Stephen spent a lot too on tableware and other bits and pieces. Can’t really calculate cost on the time we spent practicing and working on the routine.

    2009/Atlanta – hopefully we’ll get all travel and hotel costs back from the UK for Gwilym, I didn’t incur any costs. We reused a lot of equipment, cups, glassware etc. We really kept it relatively cheap and just used a component of our espresso blend so there was little separate development of competition coffee. I think it was probably the cheapest WBC performance I have been involved in – that isn’t a bad thing!

    Calculating return on all of this is pretty much impossible. I don’t regret the money spent, and often travel costs get refunded and you end up with a lot of equipment and tableware. The only thing I really resent buying is linen for the judges table. It just gets me really angry, disproportionately so.

    The upside of all of this is that I have a set of 4 espresso cups that have held espresso in the finals of the last 4 WBCs, which I think is pretty cool.

    There will always be some cost, some investment. I’d like to see some changes that discourage pointless spending on tableware/linen/faffery. I will always be suspicious of a judge who has more to say on the superficial instead of on the coffee and how to improve it.

  2. Thanks James,

    I have been getting murmurings, that people are thinking I am personally attacking James for some reason… Either that or they think I know something scandalous about his preparation in the build up to the WBC. I think people like to think the worst, it is easier for them to do that I guess…

    Let it be known that I asked if James would mind if I posted this, to which he, of course said, “yes, you should post it!”.

    The angle I was heading for, in this post was, that no matter who you work for the competition costs money. What James has stated here looks in line to what we all spend on the competition.

    I would like to here less outcries about “corporate” “what ever”, and lets focus more on the spirit of competition.

    I think with Gwilym winning it proves that anyone can win if they just work hard at it, like I said the money spent is necessary but IS secondary to actually competition.

    Thank you James for getting in touch with me your point at the end should be duly noted.

  3. Hi Deaton and nod to James,
    A note of clarification – I’m pretty sure the Irish chapter of the SCAE stumped up 1,000 Euro (I’ll clarify this) towards Stephen’s costs and definitely paid for flights for Stephen. I personally paid for Stephen’s hotel the morning after his coronation, which I subsequently claimed back from SCAE Ireland.

    Again, not carping…… clarifying.


  4. Sorry – I should clarify on the IBC thing:

    UK had paid for me and a trainer to go to Tokyo, which was very generous. The IBC did cover Stephen’s costs in full, but (not that I should expect it) not any additional costs that we incurred getting equipment etc to Denmark.

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