A Niche Problem to Have

James Hoffmann likes coffee. In fact he likes coffee so much that it‘s barely possible to escape his online presence, even if you don’t really care for hot beverages. Because even if you are fine with what your basic filter machine has to offer, there is no way that you don’t have a friend who got really into coffee. The lockdowns were weird that way. Ask your bread friends.

Don’t get me wrong, James Hoffmann seems like a perfectly nice man. He just has the unfortunate problem of how the internet works these days. See, nobody really cares if James Hoffmann is nice or not. Or what other interests he has. James Hoffmann’s audience only wants one thing: Coffee content.

That’s fine in the beginning. Espresso, pour over, french press … the ways to prepare coffee seem infinite. Different kinds of beans, different kinds of machines, there actually a lot to talk about. But at some point you will have covered every single reasonable way to prepare coffee. Unfortunately you still need to make money and the people don’t want you do branch out into making your own soft drink, they demand coffee.

So you begin to get unreasonable. Find ways to prepare your brew in ways no sane human being would ever be willing to do. Like cooking youtubers going on and on about homemade chicken stock. Sure it’s something you could theoretically do and if cooking is your main hobby you will buy a huge pot that can’t be stored in your apartment and will spend your sunday smelling up your place by boiling some chicken. But a normal person is going to buy their stock from the supermarket and that’s fine.

But James Hoffman and every other niche youtuber has a problem. Not everyone in the audience will understand that the thing the professional coffee maker is doing to earn money is something that shouldn’t be expected to do at home. I mean he is the guy making reasonable coffee tutorials! This isn’t the hydraulic press channel that’s obviously meant as a joke.

James Hoffmann also isn’t Tom Scott who just has to find another weird thing – a basically unlimited resource of topics in this weird world we live in. Instead James Hoffman has a very narrow niche to work in and is forced by the pressures of platform dynamics to finde more and more things to talk about. In his case it’s an espresso for £265. An insane amount of money, but nothing that would be dangerous to anyone.

But not everyone is as sensible as James Hoffmann and chooses coffee. Some people think they can talk about personal finance or politics. Now that’s their topic. Forever. The content machine demands to be fed. And when they run out of reasonable tips to give, will they quit or pivot to the £265 espresso? Unfortunately for us, we know the answer.

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