HostMilano set to shine in 2017

Whether the Italians like it or not, coffee as they know it is changing and they have no choice but to keep up, especially when their very own Milan hosts one of the biggest hospitality, food and coffee trade shows in the world. The coffee that Italy knows, a commodity that’s consumed quickly and cheaply at a standing coffee bar before work, is evolving into an artisanal product where quality and experience are of utmost importance. As such, changes in bean origin, quality expectations, brewing methods and drink innovation are taking centre stage in the global coffee industry – and at HostMilano this year. Fortunately, the renowned event that takes over Milan every other October is up on the latest trends as a favoured destination for top players in the hotel, restaurant and catering (HoReCa) sectors. The international event brings together companies and high-profile buyers in their respective fields, with coffee maintaining a significant presence. For four days, the Fiera Milano complex houses HostMilano for business meetings, workshops, training sessions, round tables, cooking demonstrations and tastings. This year, 55 countries will be represented, with eight new entries – Belarus, Egypt, Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Serbia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Ukraine. As of print, the event had already seen an increase of 11.4 per cent in expected attendance compared to the 2015 show. More specifically, says Simona Greco, Director of Art, Fashion, Hospitality and Travel at Fiera Milano, “we’ve seen a sharp increase in the attendance of chefs, pastry chefs, baristas and retail professionals”. To ensure the maximum benefit of exhibitors and attendees, HostMilano collaborates with the Italian Trade Agency to select and profile the more than 1500 hosted buyers attending. North America is expected to have the largest presence at 23 per cent of attendees, followed by Asia and Oceania, and Russia. Understandably, Italy boasts the largest number of exhibiting companies. While Italy will dominate the overall trade show floor, Australia and Asia will have a competitive edge in the coffee section. “The result is a thriving, growing international community of coffee enthusiasts and professionals who share trends and creativity and who see Milan as their coffee innovation hub [for the weekend],” Greco tells Global Coffee Report. Coffee is part of the greater “Coffee, Tea, Vending Machine, Gelato and Pastry” division, which will make up more than a third of the exhibitors, at 35.5 per cent. “The Coffee sector is traditionally very strong at HostMilano,” says Greco. “From the green bean through the various stages of processing all the way to the [cup], the whole coffee value chain is represented, making HostMilano the place where the entire coffee business meets.” Coffee’s significant presence at the event – aside from its natural fit within the HoReCa sector – continues the heritage of the International Coffee Exhibition (SIC), which has called HostMilano its home for the past 40 shows. “It is Italy’s oldest and most important trade fair in the coffee sector,” Greco says, facilitating “exclusive meetings conceived in partnership with top-tier stakeholders and associations for close-up exploration of the multifaceted world of coffee”. Considering the buzz in the coffee industry these days, SIC has a lot planned for this year’s show on top of its traditional seminars, demonstrations and tastings. Cafe Chronology, hosted by World Coffee Events and the Specialty Coffee Association in partnership with Mumac, will help visitors understand the history of coffee with an interactive experience through three different periods in history that have influenced coffee’s evolution. At Hub Coffee Science, visitors can engage with scientists and lab equipment in two hands-on experiences that explore coffee’s creation from bean to cup, and water’s effect on coffee preparation. On 21 and 22 October, the Italian Academy of Master Coffee Makers will host the fifth Italian Café Grand Prix. The competition will highlight Italian professionalism and Italian products, with a panel of sensory judges naming the best barista in the finals. All competing baristas must include at least one typical Italian ingredient in their creations. One of the big additions at HostMilano this year addresses coffee’s role in a wide range of sectors. The Experience Gallery is an experiential hallway between the complementary Coffee and Gelato-Pastry sections. Greco explains that it’s more than just a literal walkway that connects two adjoining halls. “It’s an independent space designed in response to market demands,” she tells GCR. “[Demands] by the exhibitors who are increasingly seeing the hybridisation of two sectors as a boost for their business, and by the attendees, who are progressively attempting to meet the needs of the modern consumer.” The “hybridisation” theme will extend into the complementary sections as well, she says. “In the Gelato-Pastry area, there will be a coffee piazza where visitors [can] enjoy experiences relating to the precious coffee bean, and in the Coffee-Tea area, there will be a similar piazza that will host all the latest trends in gelato and pastry.” With coffee having an increasing presence in a variety of industries, HostMilano’s intentional integration of coffee into other sectors will help facilitate strategic business opportunities and relationships – ones that non-coffee businesses are finding increasingly necessary and lucrative. More hotels, restaurants, bars and the like are adding coffee to their equations as global demand for coffee increases and consumers demand higher-quality coffee beverages. “In Italy, espresso coffee has always been a commodity,” Greco emphasises. “But this is changing, and specialty coffees are conquering an increasing number of coffee lovers. It is no longer enough to know how to make an excellent espresso. The preparation process needs to be complete, revolving entirely around high-quality coffee, regardless of the extraction method used to make it.” This substantial evolution in the coffee industry will be present in many ways at HostMilano this year, from an emphasis on high-quality beans and ethical sourcing methods to highlighting barista talent and the latest technology in coffee machinery. “There is no doubt that the whole approach has changed, consumers won’t settle just for higher quality anymore. They want a whole new experience,” Greco says. “For this reason, top roasters are focusing their attention of organic farming and sustainability in sourcing their coffee … [they are] also turning their attention to style, technology and the reliability of machinery.” So now, the country that has long seen coffee as a commodity actually invented espresso and the first espresso machine – a coffee format that the rest of the world generally sees as part of the specialty coffee revolution. According to research by HostMilano, 80 per cent of global coffee-making machinery is manufactured in Italy and more than 90 per cent of Italians drink coffee. Meanwhile, the country can no longer claim the title of “best coffee”. As Greco explains, however, this is changing. “Coffee is not just a basic commodity: each origin, blend and roasting method needs its own parameters if the best is to be extracted. This unique mix of technology and creativity will be protagonist at Host 2017.” GCR

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