MICE2022 returns and unites international coffee community

Melbourne International Coffee Expo

After three long years, MICE2022 returned and united the international coffee community once again.

The Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) means something different to everyone. For many, it’s a business retreat.

It’s a chance to connect with buyers and sellers, and form client relationships. For others, it’s a place of inspiration that starts a dream business or career opportunity. While each purpose was undoubtedly achieved again at MICE2022, it was first and foremost the biggest coffee family union the industry has seen since the global pandemic.

A record 15,056 attendees visited the expo over four days from 27 to 30 September at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), with 15 per cent international attendees from 71 countries, indicating a strong return of overseas participation.

The attendance figure is the highest of any MICE expo since the event’s inception in 2012, with an increase of 25 per cent of visitor numbers since the 2019 event.

“MICE was already the largest dedicated coffee expo in the Southern Hemisphere, and we are proud to reinstate that title once again, in addition to being our highest attended edition of the expo,” says MICE Show Director Lauren Winterbottom.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp attended MICE and says its return was “absolutely vital for Melbourne”.

“We are the events capital, but really the business events capital as well. Events like [MICE] incorporate a trade show, bring the industry together, and then welcomes members of the public. We’ve got delegates here from around the world, so it means a lot for us as an event city,” Sally says.

“But more than that, this is about coffee. [Melbourne is] obsessed with coffee. Our number one export to the world is coffee culture, and MICE embodies Melbourne’s renowned coffee quality and café experience.”

Warm up

To set the scene, national barista champions from across the globe descended on Melbourne the week leading into MICE, with many congregating at the Cafetto Barista Base camp to train ahead of the World Barista Championship (WBC).

On Monday 26 September, the inaugural CafeSmart Charity Golf Day took place at Latrobe Golf Course, uniting industry figures for a networking golf day.

The sold-out event saw participants tee off for 18 holes, engage in an industry talk, then concluded with a live auction. In total $30,836 was raised for CafeSmart training and employment programs for migrants and youth in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland.

That evening, a De’Longhi Melbourne Coffee Week (MCW) launch event began evening festivities before excitement set in and the countdown clock to MICE indicated just a few hours to go.

Show time

Before the doors opened to Day One of MICE, the mainstream media was a buzz with anticipation of this global coffee event that had descended on Melbourne, with heavy coverage across the week from ABC News Breakfast, The Today Show, Channel Nine News, SBS News, SBS Mandarin, SBS Italian, Channel Seven News, The Age, GoodFood and more.

Then, all of a sudden, it was show time, and the ninth edition of MICE was underway with support from sponsors St. Ali, Espresso Mechanics, MILKLAB, Global Coffee Report, Cafetto, and made by Fressko.

As guests walked through the doors, they were met with a host of brands ready to share the latest in machine innovation, experimental coffees and product tastings.

At Roasters Marketplace, brews were running hot from Commonfolk Coffee Roasters, Black Vice Café & Roastery, Just Planet Coffee, Coffee Me Up, Merlo Coffee and Adore Estate.

Dairy alternatives also had a huge representation of the show. For Happy happy Foods, it was an opportunity to extend its thanks to loyal supporters of its first product, the Happy happy Soy Boy soy milk.

“We also offered our new range at the expo, including our new almond and oat milks, hot chocolate, and matcha powders. We’re especially proud of our Mumma Matcha powder, grown on Australian soil from an estate in Byron Bay,” says Happy happy Foods Co- Founder Lloyd Smith.

Over on the Bonsoy stand, its new all- natural almond milk, Bonsoy Almond Milk, was available to try, using roasted almond paste with a light flavour profile. It also featured a range of sparkling coconut water in three flavours.

“With organic coconut water and the refreshment of sparkling bubbles, Bonsoy coconut water is a revelation,” says Spiral Foods Marketing Manager Raphaelle Wilson.

Califia Farms were proud to have Caleb “Tiger” Cha, the 2015 World Latte Art Champion, at its stand teaching attendees how to pour the perfect latte art. “And what better way to showcase our new Oat Barista Blend milk then at one of the biggest coffee expos in the world?” says Category Marketing Manager Gemma Goorjian.

Riverina Fresh also drew crowds with the in-demand Caleb Cha, in addition to celebrating some of the producers who gave MICE visitors a deeper perspective of the level and quality and commitment it takes to be a Riverina Fresh dairy farmer.

At 3.30pm, the grandstands filled on the WBC stage as Australian contender, Anthony Douglas of Axil Coffee Roasters, completed his round one performance, running slightly overtime but strong enough to make it through to the Semi Finals in the announcements that evening.

Before we knew it, day one had concluded, and it was time to celebrate with La Marzocco at Starward Whisky distillery.

Day two

Wednesday started off with a sold-out city gathering of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance Australian ‘stronger together’ breakfast event, celebrating women who had forged successful careers in coffee from coffee producing to green bean buying.

Back at the MCEC, the reunions continued but it was time to talk tech and explore the new innovations. Coffee Tools Distributing had its full product catalogue on display including an axle- free coffee grinder. Barista Group had an array of gadgets to look at, including the new Marki Bar IZAGA W grind- by-weight and Quin Spin portafilter cleaner. Aremde’s celebrated style
and functionality with the Stylus One espresso machine, and Coffee Machine Technology had heads turning with its Elektra coffee machine.

For Espresso Mechanics, it was a chance to display Nuova Simonelli’s new- release Oscar Mood and Aurelia Wave UX. “These machines allow for fluid and harmonious work-flow and consistent widespread quality at any time of the day,” says Espresso Mechanics Customer Service Team Leader Carly D’Agostino.

On the adjoining stand, Victoria Arduino displayed its new Black Eagle Maverick espresso machine, E1 Prima and Mythos grinder. Espresso Company Australia celebrated craft and technology with new Tone Swiss compact espresso machines and Drink Morning specialty coffee capsule machine.

Barista Technology Australia had its full suite of automated products on display in a shipping container,

showcasing the possibilities of workflow efficiency with the Puqpress, Flow telemetry and Perfect Moose milk foamer.

La Marzocco celebrated ‘the past, the present and the mighty future’ with the new Linea classic S, Linea Pb, Wally and Linea Mini and a nod to the past with its new Officine Fratelli Bambi machine.

Barista Attitude used the opportunity to educate consumers on the ethos and vision behind the brand and its Qualified Espresso Machine of the WBC, Tempesta, in addition to the Storm and Profilo machines that intrigued visitors for its DJ looking concept.

Coffee Works Express’ stand also celebrated Tempesta, in addition to models from Wega, Mazzer, Astoria and Slayer.

Rancilio continued the celebration of Italian manufacturing, presenting the RS1 espresso machine to the MICE masses.

“It provides cutting-edge brewing technology combined with Rancilio expertise and a unique workflow design. As a Specialty Coffee Association certified espresso machine, this validates its position in the market as an industry leader,” says Rancilio Australasia General Manager Paul O’Brien.

For many brands, it was the first opportunity such products had been physically presented to market, and for others, it was a chance to present the innovation that had been developed over the past few years.

On the Brewers Cup competition stage today was Australian representative Harry Ko of Bennetts. When it was his turn to get the Australia crowd behind him, Harry put on an incredible display. Despite his best efforts to move into the Semi Finals, Harry finished an incredible eight position after his first round performance.

That evening, UCC coffee invited customers to its new Albert Street roastery opening in Preston, where guests marvelled at the giant display and capacity of the new facility.

De’Longhi MCW events also continued this evening, with the Single O World(ish) Parachute Championship and FTA ‘Where are we now’ events taking place. All registration fees for De’Longhi MCW were donated to MICE official Charity Partner StreetSmart and the CafeSmart program, working to fight homelessness.

The half way point

Day three of MICE was an opportunity to refuel with plenty of coffee options at Roaster’s Alley.

Toby’s Estate had guests creating their own coffee blends to be as traditional, whacky, or experimental as their heart desired. Their tunes and team energy brought the vibe.

Nearby, the St Ali House slowed things down a touch, with the aim to engage with customers on a deeper level through the lens of a luxury hotel bar. Guests were invited to sit down and go through a 10-minute tasting experience featuring a different selection of coffees, grouped by producer, region, and/or variety.

At the other end of the expo, Mocopan share its new-look packaging and rebranded coffee titles, using the occasion to connect with visitors about its 68 yeard of history.

“It’s been great getting our new brand packaging out there and showing off our updated look. We’re still using the same quality blend and profile, but just want to share happiness with our use of colour, stand out from the crowd, and give people an impression that we are a quality brand they can emotionally connect to,” says Mocopan Coffee National Sales Manager Hannah Fielding.

Veneziano Coffee Roasters continued its 20th anniversary celebrations with a stand that had coffee preparation at each side. Guests could book a spot on the bar, try the next pinnacle release or preview a tasty coffee frappe.

Over in Origin Alley, it was a chance to celebrate the producers and traders who had travelled from across the globe to present their very coffees, from South America and Africa, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and Panama, it really was a smorgasbord of coffees and star producer talent. Cuppings were a plenty on the Minas Hill stand, in addition to InterAmerican, and FTA, with guests lucky enough to meet some of the producers that produced the very coffee they were tasting.

The afternoon was all about competitions. The Milklab Barista Battle Series International Finals kicked off, with a crowd gathering to see the barista battle. Patryk Tomasik of The Hideout Specialty Coffee in Queensland won the inaugural title and an all-expenses paid trip to London.

On the world stage just nearby, Anthony Douglas competed in the WBC Semi Finals. The first-round nerves had vanished and a clean run-through had the crowd hopeful of a Finals position, and they weren’t disappointed.

That evening, more social events continued, and the Victoria Arduino Lab in Brunswick got bustling with a Pure Brew party with the 2017 World Coffee in Good Spirits Champion Martin Hudak.

The finale

Day four arrived almost as quickly as the show started, but with tiring feet and weary eyes, one last energy injection was needed to conclude MICE in the best way possible. Last laps around the show floor continued to reveal new and unexplored products, and the afternoon celebrated the best of them in the MICE2022 Product Innovation Awards.

The LaCimbali M200 won the award for Coffee Preparation Equipment.

“It is with great happiness that the Service Sphere team celebrate the Product Innovation Award for The La Cimbali M200. The winning of this award is recognition of the evolution of high-quality coffee output, blended with well-considered design and barista ergonomics,” says Service Sphere Director Maurizio Marcocci.

The Compass from Nucleus Coffee Tools was awarded the Product Innovation Award for Coffee Accessories. Compass creator Angus Mackie 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 the 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.

Eureka Grinders’ Prometheus grinder won the Ancillary Electrical Equipment award for its advanced technology features, and Weber Workshops Unifilter portafilter won the People’s Choice award.

“We’ve tried to make a thoughtful product that hadn’t yet been released in the industry. The Unifilter is a critical part of making espresso and many big industry players use and love it,” says Weber Workshops CEO and Founder Douglas Weber.

Attention then turned to the World Brewers Cup competition stage. With all final run-throughs complete, the winning announcement was dramatic and nail biting, with Shih Yuan Hsu (Sherry) of Taiwan crowned the 2022 World Brewers Champion.

Then it was the WBC’s turn. With the grandstands full, and the home crowd anxiously waiting, the top six finalists were presented and called out by ranking one by one, until Australia’s own Anthony Douglas stood side-by- side with the United States’ Morgan Eckroth. It was a moment resembling the same situation in 2013, the last time Melbourne hosted the WBC – when Australia’s Matthew Perger placed runner-up to America’s Pete Licata.

This time, the placings reversed and Anthony was crowned the 2022 World Barista Champion. Tears, screams and ecstatic smiles topped off what can only be described as a fairy-tale ending to MICE2022 – a Melbourne world champion, at a Melbourne-hosted event, in what was the biggest MICE the city, and world, has ever seen.

The celebrations continued long into the night, thanks to St Ali who hosted the official After Party, where a new champion was toasted, and a successful MICE officially came to an end.

This article appears in the October 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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