Industry figures share the early impact MICE has had on their career

Melbourne International Coffee Expo

To celebrate its first double-digit birthday, MICE is taking a trip down memory lane to honour industry figures who have seen success as a result of participating in the biggest coffee-dedicated event in the southern hemisphere.

Pete Licata

Pete Licata of Veneziano Coffee Roasters was the 2013 World Barista Champion, crowned at the 2013 Melbourne International Coffee Expo. Pete had never been to Australia before the WBC 2013, and coming from the United States, says it felt like an incredibly exotic place to visit.

Pete Licata is the 2013 World Barista Champion.

“My first memory of MICE was showing up to the World Barista Championship (WBC) area. Walking into the Melbourne Showgrounds full of tents was pretty surreal. Once I actually got out into the show, I was impressed by the number of roasters present and the crowds of people who were attending. There is a distinctly Australian feel to the show; part industry leading, part homegrown, that makes MICE seem both impressive and approachable,” Pete says.

“I think my most memorable part of the show was walking through the annex building (between the competition and main hall) with all of the former WBC champions’ pictures hanging from the ceiling. It was like walking through a hall of fame or a sporting arena with past champions watching you pass through. A bit of a tribute to the past, looking toward the future.”

After the show was over, and his new WBC title sunk in, Pete spent the next few years travelling back and forth from his hometown of Kansas City to Australia to consult and coach competitors. In 2019, he made the lifechanging decision to become Nomad Coffee Group’s (Veneziano Coffee Roaster’s parent company) Research and Development Coffee Consultant.

“I’ve become more of a mentor for younger baristas. I’ve coached competitors as well as baristas who are just wanting to grow in the industry and find that my experiences can be pretty valuable for others to learn from. It’s something that I enjoy, and hopefully something that is helpful to push others higher in their pursuits,” says Pete.

The 2013 World Barista Champion is grateful to MICE for solidifying unique opportunities and giving him the chance to expand his knowledge on larger business operations.

“I have had the chance to work with a number of equipment and product manufacturers to help improve existing products and come up with new ideas,” he says.

“[My job] has also shown me just how much I enjoy building systems and structure, and how to implement them into a team environment. From here, I feel the future is wide open, but of course I want to stay based here in Australia.”

At MICE 2023, Pete looks forward to catching up with friends from around the country (and potentially the world) and is eager to reconnect with the industry.

“MICE is a family reunion that brings us all a bit closer together. I get to see what everyone’s been up to lately, or what may be coming in the near future,” he says.

“It’s a very special event for me because of some major life changing moments that I experienced on my first visit, and I get to relive that each year, in a way.”

Rie Moustakas

2014 Australian Latte Art Champion Rie Moustakas attended MICE for the first time in 2013 and was in the crowd when Pete was announced the World Barista Champion.

Rie Moustakas is the 2014 Australian Latte Art Champion.

“Sitting in the stands and watching the World Barista Championship was an insane experience. The atmosphere was electrifying, especially when Pete was announced as the winner,” Rie says.

Every time Rie attends MICE, she says it’s a valuable networking experience and makes many connections that have helped her in her career.

“Really, it’s the lasting, genuine friendships I’ve made from MICE that have been a big inspiration and motivation in my life,” says Rie. “MICE has always been a fun experience, but also

encouraging and influential. I love meeting top industry professionals, visiting the stands and seeing the latest technology and products in our industry. Not to mention seeing people from origin connect with roasters and giving us the opportunity to taste some amazing coffees. It’s all incredible.”

Craig Simon

Like Pete and Rie, Criteria Coffee Founder Craig Simon is no stranger to the WBC stage. He has represented country at the WBC in 2012, 2014, and 2018, and is a multi- award-winning barista and coffee roaster who has worked in every link of the coffee chain.

Craig Simon is the 2012, 2014, and 2018 Australian Barista Champion.

“I was at the very first MICE in 2012. This was the first time the Australian Coffee Championships were held there and the first year I won the Australian Barista Championship, which changed the trajectory of my life. Competitions have since been a large part of my career in terms of building my knowledge and reputation,” Craig says.

“Those first few years of MICE were such exciting times. Seeing so many roasters create extraordinary stands and watching the industry unite was really special. It created a focal point of cohesiveness in the Australian coffee industry.”

Craig looks back fondly at his first time competing in the WBC and is appreciative of MICE for providing a platform to share his ideas.

“Having a public forum to present your professionalism and skills is so rewarding, as is being a part of such a revered accolade. If you have something to say, then that stage gives you the opportunity to present it to a wider audience,” Craig says.

“Just like the WBC, MICE is a platform to share ideas and be heard. It’s a fundamental part of our landscape. Coffee is a part of the hospitality industry, and hospitality is about being hospitable. What better place to make new friends and people feel welcome than at the only coffee trade show in Australia?”

Angus Mackie

Industry experts are not the only ones to find success thanks to MICE. The MICE Product Innovation Awards recognise the best innovations from exhibitors, and at MICE2022 the Compass from Nucleus Coffee Tools was awarded the Product Innovation Award for Coffee Accessories.

Angus Mackie is the creator of the Compass temperature reader.

“I remember attending MICE for the first time in 2012 to compete in the Australian Latte Art Championship. This MICE was a special moment for me as I placed second and was the first person from Canberra to ever place in the top three in a national-level competition,” says Compass creator Angus Mackie.

“[Winning a Product Innovation Award] was another proud moment for me. Developing any kind of product takes a long time. There’s so much work beyond just being creative and making something that you love. Logistical matters add months of work which out-weigh the time spent innovating and the fun stuff. Receiving this kind of acknowledgement was so encouraging, and really motivated me to see value in my idea. Whenever

I see my award, it makes me smile and reminds me to keep pushing.”

The Compass temperature reader is suitable for reading temperatures in different beverages with the option to set it up in Celsius or Fahrenheit degrees. Angus was inspired to manufacturer the product by wanting to connect everyday people with complex coffees.

“The more time I spent with coffees, the more I realised they do have moments where they taste best, and often those moments are lost by drinking the coffee too slow or too fast. Once I realised how much hard work goes into the cup, I realised I wanted to create a tool that makes it easier to savour those moments,” says Angus.

“I’d like to be known as a coffee lover with a creative mind whose ideas can improve everyday appreciation of coffee. Receiving an innovation award was really special and encourages me to keep believing and pursuing my ideas.”

The recognition Angus received from this award has allowed him to gather several new ideas for an updated version of the Compass. “When [the second version is released], I look to include it in the MICE Product

Innovation Awards to add value to it and increase trust with the end consumer,” he says.

“MICE adds an exciting event to my calendar each year, and I get to connect with interstate and international coffee friends, meet new people and witness new things in all areas of our industry.”

This article appears in the MICE Showguide 2023. View the Showguide HERE.

Send this to a friend