James Hoffmann Is Planning the World’s Largest Coffee Tasting

Be a part of the livestream event on September 21 in your time zone.


Cover photo courtesy of James Hoffmann

Former World Barista Champion, coffee writer, and Square Mile Coffee cofounder James Hoffmann is just about bursting with excitement at the prospect of tasting coffees with you.

Having tackled an eccentric array of subjects recently on his YouTube account (Weird Coffee Science and coffee booze reviews to name a couple), James’ latest video release divulges the details of his plan to host the world’s largest coffee tasting on September 21 at 3 p.m. U.K. time.

James Hoffmann is hosting what he hopes is the world’s largest coffee tasting on September 21.

This is how it will work: On this day, James will livestream himself tasting five different coffees (unlabeled, which will be explained afterward) from Square Mile while simultaneously guiding viewers/participants through the process. In order to do this, Square Mile is selling these same five coffees through September 4—a little over two weeks before the cupping. The coffees also come with minerals from Third Wave Water to add to distilled water, which ensures that everyone involved will be tasting the coffees brewed with the same kind of water. To make sure grind size is the same, the kit includes a sample of coffee with the grind that James will be using for his beans. For participants unfamiliar with the cupping process, the tasting pack sold by Square Mile includes instructions, and the video includes links on how to taste coffee and cup at home.

Square Mile will provide coffee samples for the world’s largest coffee tasting, which will be shipped out of their U.K. roastery. Photo by James Hoffmann.

There’s no reason in particular for James organizing the cupping, but he has been mapping out the idea for awhile. “I had done a few livestreams on YouTube a while back, and enjoyed them, and I think a few people had mentioned wanting to learn more about tasting,” James explains. “I’ve been planning this for at least six months, but there were a few logistical challenges to work out—like water. So I’m very pleased that Third Wave Water have been so helpful.”

James stresses that Square Mile isn’t trying to make money off of this endeavor. The tasting kit is intentionally as cheap as the roaster can make it—it costs 6 pounds for residents in the U.K., and samples are lightweight to make sure it is affordable shipping-wise for as many people as possible. “I want this to be the world’s largest spontaneous coffee tasting because that would just be really cool!” he tells viewers in his video.

The last certified Guinness World Record for the largest coffee tasting was recently broken by Alcaldía Municipal de Chinchiná in Colombia on June 15. It consisted of 1,559 participants; according to the Guinness site: “Three varieties of coffee were served during the official attempt: Caturra, Castillo Naranjal and Arabic coffee.” This same day, they also broke the world record for the largest cup of coffee, which was 22,739.14 liters of Arabica coffee. While James doesn’t necessarily think his tasting could be certified by Guinness, there’s still a possibility that it could unofficially beat this one, as there are currently already 2,500 tasting sets sold as of August 24.

Alcaldía Municipal de Chinchiná in Colombia beat the record for the world’s largest coffee tasting in June 2019, which consisted of 1,559 participants. Photo by Guinness World Records on Facebook.

The video is currently flooded with comments and confirmations from countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Lebanon, New Zealand, and more—all of which claim they will happily cup coffees past 9 p.m. (in their various time zones) to be a part of the world record.

“I love the idea that we can shrink the world a little, but mostly I love that we can have one very large shared experience—which is so rare, in coffee in particular,” James says. “I’m working out how to collect as much useful information as possible from the tasting, without making it laborious or overwhelming for people taking part.”

If you’re not keen on waking up at 4 a.m. (or whatever your time may be) to taste coffee with everyone, the video will be available on YouTube afterward so you can taste with James at your own convenience.

About Katrina Yentch 221 Articles
Katrina Yentch (she/her) is a freelance writer and Barista Magazine's Online Editor. When she's not writing, you can find her napping, cooking, and drinking whatever's on drip.