Melbourne awoke on 30 March with that feeling of excitement and anticipation, much like diehard footy fans on the eve of the AFL Grand Final, or children the night before Christmas.
For the Australian coffee community, our version of Christmas was about to spring to life, with presents in the form of copious amounts of delicious coffees, five Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) Australian coffee competitions, and a family reunion of national and international coffee representatives.
At 9am, one hour before the doors to the sixth instalment of the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) officially opened, exhibitors could have been forgiven for thinking otherwise. The aisles were pumping with people, reunions, and free-flowing coffees, and like many of the 120 exhibitors have since expressed, in true Dennis Denuto style (yes, we’re quoting The Castle), there was a certain “vibe” in the air. It was a positive unity of the industry’s best baristas, roasters, suppliers, and traders all under the one roof of the Grand Pavilion.
It didn’t take long for the sounds of cuppings to echo through the big tent, nor the frothing sound of steam wands put to work.
People came in droves to do business, proved with the first day of the show seeing the highest number of visitors for a trade day outside of hosting the World Barista Championship in 2013.
For those interested in the latest gadgets and toys on the market, there was plenty to play with – and much more that appealed to the eager eye. Visitors couldn’t resist photo opportunities of the custom-designed Victoria Arduino Black Eagle on the Espresso Mechanics stand, the Tech-Bar from Coffee Machines Technologies, Barista Group’s Ubermilk, the Tiffany Blue Mavam Espresso, the Marco Mix, which landed straight from the UK for the event, or the latest Black Oscar II.
You couldn’t pass the Coffee Works Express (CWE) stand without being stopped in your tracks by Wega’s latest Urban machine, complete with customised and visually outrageous red, white, and black comic wrap for the ultimate X factor.
Simultaneously, ASCA competitions were off to a flying start, with the Main Stage bustling with nervous baristas stage-side with overflowing trollies waiting their turn to present in the barista and latte art heats. Over on the Brew Bar, brewers put their brewing skills to the test, and in the Roasting Zone, the inaugural Australian Roasting Championship was in full swing with Lucy Ward and Anne Cooper coordinating the intense multi-day competition.
The hours passed and before long, day one of MICE came to an end, with the day activities wrapping up, and the night ones beginning.
As part of Melbourne Coffee Week, Toby’s Estate celebrated a night of brew mastery when it hosted its Brew Masters competition with special guest Acaia Founder Rex Tseng to celebrate the new Brewguide Acaia app. On the other side of town, Ona Coffee threw a Brew Party at Dr Morse Bar & Eatery to celebrate filter coffees with beer and good times. With seven of its baristas competing in the ASCA competitions, we can verify its champion team was tucked up in bed at a reasonable hour.
Day two at MICE promised a big agenda, and it delivered.
As ASCA’s Barista Semi Finals got underway, many opted for morning brews to energise for the day ahead. A trip down Roaster’s Alley was the place to be, with roaster after roaster luring visitors in with tasty single origins and blends from Rumble Roasters, White Horse Coffee, Veneziano Coffee, Axil Coffee Roasters, Atomic Coffee, and Rubia Coffee Traders.
n To ease the caffeine overload, stands such as Zest Specialty Coffee had the ideal set up to engage the palate. Pairings of delectable desserts were offered to guests with an accompanying coffee sample to celebrate Zest’s new micro-lot range. The best part was watching the faces of customers try its Composition Blend with popping candy and fairy floss which drew smiles all round.
Likewise, over at the Byron Bay cookie stand, visitors sat and indulged in cookie and coffee pairings. Did anyone try that Rosella Lamington? One word: scrumptious.
Coffee flights were all the rage at the Five Senses stand. Guests could relax on a bar stool and be transported to Ethiopia or Burundi in carefully orchestrated pairings. With a gigantic team ready to serve and educate, the Five Senses guys had their hands full with the sheer number of inquisitive customers and coffees (just 17 available on the bar) and fans taking coffee pics at every chance they got.
The full article features in the June 2017 edition of BeanScene Magazine.
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For more information on MICE, visit internationalcoffeeexpo.com/