Roasters reunite at MICE2021

Melbourne International Coffee Expo

The Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) is within reach, with the September event set to be the first Australian dedicated coffee expo in more than two years.

Last year, many people could count the number of times they saw friends, family or colleagues on their hands. Zoom replaced hugs, handshakes and human contact. But thankfully, with careful management of COVID-19 cases in Australia, and the return of interstate travel and football spectators, life is returning to some degree of the normalcy we once knew.

With that, comes the excitement of welcoming back events, and the one our industry needs most – the Melbourne International Coffee Expo, taking place from 9 to 11 September at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

“It’s been a long time coming, but we’re excited to host what will arguably be the biggest industry reunion of the year,” says MICE Show Director Lauren Winterbottom. “MICE has always been a designated place to do business, and more than ever the industry needs an opportunity to meet suppliers, seek out innovation, and reconnect under the one roof.”

MICE is already shaping up to be exciting event with more than 90 per cent of exhibition space sold, and the highest number of new roaster exhibitors to date.

St Ali returns as a Platinum Sponsor, with CEO Salvatore Malatesta saying this is the must-attend industry event.

“MICE has always been a special feature on the annual calendar, as a national and world coffee event. This years’ will be a reminder of the importance of collaboration as an industry, and a celebration for getting through the challenges 2020 presented,” Salvatore says. “Melbourne has always celebrated coffee as part of its cultural identity, and this September will be no different.”

St Ali returns as a Platinum Sponsor for MICE2021

One returning exhibitor who has never missed a year in MICE’s nine-year history is Veneziano Coffee Roasters.

“MICE is about supporting the industry. It’s about supporting our customers and suppliers, and an opportunity to showcase and launch new products, new blends, and new equipment. Just what that is for Veneziano, you’ll have to wait and see, but we always bring something big to showcase at MICE,” says Veneziano Managing Director Craig Dickson.

“We know everyone’s had a tough 2020, so more than anything MICE this year will be a great opportunity to fly the whole Veneziano team in from around the country. We’re an interactive industry based on people connections, so to come together in person – without Zoom – is going to be fantastic.”

For Toby’s Estate General Manager Jody Leslie, MICE has always been an opportunity to seek out new innovations, try different coffees, and get a sense of the personalities behind some of Australia’s biggest brands. This year, Jody expects to showcase Toby’s “foray into flavour” and some exciting new developments.

“We’re looking forward to showing some love to our wholesale partners, some of whom are still recovering from last year, and focusing on the local market,” Jody says.

“Australia does outstanding expos and MICE is the best representation of our coffee industry under the one roof. For anyone wanting a sample of our coffee culture or to view our coffee landscape on the world scale, you can’t beat MICE. We’re very good at what we do. We know it. The international stage knows it – and so to be part of the event and showcase Toby’s to the world makes me quite proud.”

Undercover Roasters is one newcomer to the MICE2021 line-up. Alex O’Connor says this will be the first dedicated coffee tradeshow the company has exhibited at, having only been operating since 2016.

“We’re a pretty small roaster so there’s lots of people who have never heard of us before. We knew that MICE is the must-attend industry expo, so we really hope we can find our place in the market and gain more brand recognition at the show,” Alex says.

“We will be showcasing our staple blends, a whole new range of chocolates and chai, and hopefully some beautiful Ethiopian or Kenyan single origins that we know people are going to love.”

Andreas Martinu from Reverence Coffee Roasters is another first-time exhibitor. With its original site and café in Ascot Vale just a 10-minute walk from MICE’s inaugural location at the Melbourne Showgrounds, Andreas used to welcome exhibitors, competition judges and even World Barista Champions before the expo doors opened. This year however, he’ll be the one exhibiting.

“We’ve always been pretty successful at growing organically but the feedback I keep getting from wholesale accounts is that although our coffee and service is great, we’re not as well known in the market as we should be given the volume we do. We’ve never been good at self-promotion so what better way to get our name out there than attend MICE,” Andreas says.

While still in the planning phases, Andreas intends for his stand to be “something pretty special” in order to make its presence felt amongst the sea of roasters.

“We want café operators tasting 90 per cent of our business offerings, including our blends and some special lots from maybe Ethiopia or El Salvador,” Andreas says. “We’re looking to expand the business to Sydney and Brisbane so what better way to springboard our business than get the word out at MICE.”

On a grander scale, after a year a part, Andreas says MICE is also a symbolic reminder of the freedom Australians are fortunate to have in this COVID world.

“It’s easy to forget what last year was like. It was tough for many, especially in hospitality, so to have this freedom and attend an event like MICE once again is truly special. I, for one, don’t take this opportunity for granted and appreciate how lucky we are,” Andreas says.

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This article appears in the June 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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