The Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) is like the Australian Open of tournaments – it’s the first major event to kick-off the year, one of the most revered expos on the circuit, and arguably a crowd favourite by exhibitor and attendee standards.
Event organisers are encouraging guests to plan their year wisely, starting with the Asia Pacific’s greatest coffee dedicated event, MICE 2019, from 7 to 9 February, before continuing onto the Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston, United States from 11 to 14 April for the World Barista Championship (WBC), and World of Coffee in Berlin, Germany from 8 to 10 June.
“Next year is going to be huge,” says MICE Show Director Simon Coburn. “MICE hosts what is already considered a world-class expo, but next year we want to be acknowledged as the first must-attend event on the global coffee calendar.”
Earlier this year, the decision to relocate MICE to the central city location of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre was made after hosting the event for the past seven years at the Melbourne Showgrounds.
From the very beginning in 2012, MICE was created as Australia’s first and only coffee-dedicated trade show to connect buyers and sellers, and bring industry members together in the one space. With time, MICE has evolved into an important part of the Australian and world coffee community fabric.
“Before MICE, there wasn’t a bonafide coffee event for the Southern Hemisphere. Many people epitomise the WBC as the holy grail of coffee events, wherever that may be each year, but it’s a huge financial undertaking when we have our own elite event right on our doorstep,” says Ross Quail of Slayer Espresso Asia Pacific and Australian Barista Championship Head Judge.
“MICE represents an opportunity to see the best industry exhibitors and competitors in a world-class setting, and the chance for international judges to get mentoring experience before going to the WBC. Attendance is excellent, the competitions are world class, and our community spirit is infectious.”
Each year at MICE there is a growing representation of guests from the Asia Pacific making their way over, with strong country presence from Singapore, Malaysia, and China. And why? Because “it’s achievable”, Ross says.
“It’s not so far to travel for the Asian market, and why wouldn’t you want an excuse to travel to Australia?” he says.
More than just a chance to do business, Ross says coming to Melbourne for MICE gives attendees the greatest excuse to explore our coffee culture.
“Melbourne can be positioned as a holistic tourist research and development trip as well as the chance to see and experience some of the best coffee and cafés in the Southern Hemisphere,” he says.
One person who has done just that is former Japan Barista Champion and 2014 World Barista Champion Hidenori Isaki, who has attended MICE for the past three years and needs no convincing to return.
“It is globally obvious that the Australian coffee community is the most advanced specialty coffee market. MICE is a well known exhibition for the coffee community and people who want to know what the future of our industry looks like,” Hidenori says.
Since winning the WBC, Hidenori has worked as a coach consultant for barista competitors, and naturally, he travels where the work is.
“As a consultant I have clients who are based in Asian countries. The Australian community is their role model. Each market and business idea often comes out from the culture and quality lead by the Australian coffee community,” he says. “From a competition point of view, Australia’s coffee championship is the most competitive competition in the world without any doubt. It is highly important for myself to follow the Australian competition and estimate what the WBC is going to be like.”
This year’s MICE saw an attendee increase of 14.5 per cent on the year prior with 11,043 visitors from 39 countries including Burundi, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Great Britain, India, Laos, Myanmar, the Netherlands, New Caledonia, Peru, Russia, South Africa, and United Arab Emirates.
“MICE has become an anchor point for international guests to connect with new and existing Australian customers and do serious business,” Simon says.
Of those who attended this year’s event, the top reason was looking for new products, equipment, and technology at 26 per cent, seeing existing suppliers at 22 per cent, sourcing new suppliers at 11 per cent, tasting different coffee at 18 per cent, watching the coffee championships at 12 per cent, and comparing products of suppliers at 11 per cent.
Cafetto cleaning agents has seen the potential of MICE from day one as the event’s official sponsor. The brand uses the opportunity to connect with the Australian market, generate new leads, and meet international guests.
“Exhibitions and events like MICE attract a quality audience and provide us with the opportunity to connect with our customers and other industry professionals. Delegates have the chance to come along to our stand see all of our products,” says Cafetto Founder Christopher Short. “As we’re a known brand in Australia’s coffee industry, it’s important to revisit discussions with customers and cement relationships, and MICE is the most efficient and impactful way to do this. We will be back in 2019 and look forward to its new, conveniently located venue.”
MICE organisers hope the rest of the international coffee community eagerly anticipates MICE2019 with just over six months to go and over 80 per cent of show floor sold. Event Director Simon says plans are well underway to deliver a standout show, and one as memorable as the inaugural MICE event in 2012.
“We warmly welcome the rest of the country and the world to join in the celebrations and the many opportunities that MICE presents,” he says.
“There’s no place you’d rather be than Melbourne in April, 2019.”
For more information, visit internationalcoffeeexpo.com