MICE is a place to celebrate Melbourne coffee culture, but it’s also a place where innovation is revealed and talent unveiled.
In the case of MICE Platinum Sponsor Milklab, this year it’s launching a different kind of experience called Milklab Lane, inspired by Melbourne urban coffee culture, its collaboration with baristas, and the new ‘Made With. Made For. Baristas’ campaign.
“Reminiscent of the streets of Melbourne, the new-look stand incorporates exterior, hole-in-the-wall style cafés and funky coffee carts that encourage guests to explore and discover the laneways of Milklab where they can enjoy a unique and exciting coffee experience that showcases perfect pairings and highlights the tasting notes of the Milklab range,” says Milklab Marketing Manager Natalie Latimore.
The refreshed approach anchors the overarching theme of the stand with vibrant coloured laneways, innovative signs, and a live DJ that highlights the vibe of the Milklab brand.
“The stand has been made with sustainable materials including SaveBoard, a low carbon building material made from upcycled tetra packaging, and finished off with custom street signs, faux- shop fronts, and festoon lighting to be vibrant, inviting and warm in all the best ways,” says Natalie.
Milklab will also be hosting the Milklab Barista Battle finals on the stand, a knock-out style latte art smackdown. Regional heats were completed in six states across Australia throughout June and July.
Vinh Dang of Fox and Bow Redhill won the Australian Capital Territory heat of the Milklab Barista Battle series on 29 June at East Row Specialty Coffee. Darcy Jones of Axil Coffee Roasters won the Victoria heat on 5 July at Roasting Warehouse in Airport West. Sabita Lama of Leaf Café won the New South Wales heat at The Grounds of Alexandria on 13 July. Saki Wakamatsu of Double Shot won the Queensland heat on 19 July at The Coffee Commune in Brisbane. Mohammed ‘Rizky’ Ramadani of Offshoot Coffee won the Western Australian heat on 27 July at Dimattina Coffee in Perth, and Bishal Jang of Malobo Bakery & Terrace won the South Australian heat on 29 July at Altura Coffee in Adelaide.
“Each heat saw 24 baristas compete in a head-to-head, bracket-style tournament. Each round was a knock-out battle with the best pour, as decided by a panel of judges, moving on to the next round,” Natalie says.
“We love seeing the interaction among the community, not just between us and the baristas, but the competing baristas themselves. It’s really rewarding to be able to cultivate a friendly competition and give baristas a space to mingle and learn from each other.”
All the winners from the six state heats will be flown into Melbourne to compete at the Australian final, taking place at MICE on 17 August from 3pm.
In the Australian final, six baristas will compete in three rounds.
“In the first round, they will create an animal or creature with Milklab Oat milk. From there, three baristas will progress to round two, creating free pour latte art with Milklab Almond milk. The final round will see two baristas go head-to-head and create free pour latte art with Milklab Oatmilk,” Natalie says.
The winner of the Australian final will be invited to become a Milklab Master Barista and go on to be represent Australia in the International Final.
Taking place on 18 August from 3pm, the Milklab Barista Battle International Final will see the Australian winner compete against finalists from New Zealand, South Africa, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and China.
“Baristas are competing for the chance to win a trip for two to Toronto Coffee Festival 2024,” says Natalie.
“Last year our Aussie competitor took the Barista Battle Champion title, but this year, who knows? I love seeing the skill of the baristas and the latte art patterns inspired by big latte art champions. Come on down and see for yourself.