There was a rush of excitement with just half an hour before the fifth Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) was to open its doors.
The last of the light bulb displays were being polished, loud speaker announcements were made to clear the floor, a group of visitors were negotiating with registration staff to make them the first official entrants of the 2016 show, and in the background were echoes of beans pouring into hoppers.
All that was left to do was wait for the clock to strike 10am…In three, two, one.
“Welcome to the 2016 Melbourne International Coffee Expo”, bellowed a voice-over man.
Immediately, visitors started strolling through the entry points as exhibitors braced for three days of customer service, of spruiking, educating, and information sharing.
This was MICE – the largest dedicated coffee show in the Southern Hemisphere. From 17 – 19 March, this year’s event welcomed more than 120 exhibitors, featuring the latest in espresso equipment, coffee brewing devices, exotic and expensive coffee beans, roasting equipment, and more.
A total 9213 visitors made their way to the Grand Pavilion at the Melbourne Showgrounds to take part in this year’s event. This figure exceeded the 2015 attendance rate of 8922 visitors.
“We are thrilled that so many people have engaged with the coffee industry’s superior event in the Australasian sector,” MICE Show Director Simon Coburn says. “These figures indicated that MICE remains valuable for visitors and exhibitors to do business and network with clients, but equally, our strong public day attendance figures are a testament to the high level of engagement the Australian public has with our coffee culture and its competition scene.”
Day one of the show also marked the first day of competitions. In the centre of the Grand Pavilion, the Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) competition stage came to life, boasting Victoria Arduino Black Eagle machines and surrounding grandstands. As the heats for the Australian Barista Championship commenced, onlookers stopped to watch in curiosity, while support crews held banners with encouraging signs.
The competition may have been heating up on the stage, but temperatures were also rising under the big tent. Thanks to Melbourne’s unpredictable autumn weather, exhibitors were treated to 36°C temperatures for the first show day. By the afternoon, refreshing iced teas, coffees and sorbets were the beverage of choice. But the show went on.
For those interested in keeping their caffeine levels high, MICE attracted an impressive array of roasters, including Will & Co, who used their prime position near the entrance to lure lines of guests with their customised Faema E91 machine. Over at Grinders Coffee, the team unveiled its stylish stand design that mimicked its revamped Lygon Street store, complete with a build-your-own blend station. It was hard to miss the iconic blue of the Lavazza stand and its smartly dressed baristas. It had one of the most engaging stands at the show, inviting customers to partake in sensory masterclasses, cuppings and cocktail making. As did Zest Specialty Coffee, whom encouraged guests to take a load off and experience a Flavour Flight coffee tasting for something truly different, and tasty.
To read the full article see the April edition of BeanScene Magazine. Subscribe here today: www.beanscenemag.com.au/subscribe