The Melbourne International Coffee Expo will return for 2024, showcasing the very best of Australia’s coffee market and why it remains a global coffee landmark.
As the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) wrapped its 10th edition in August, Show Director Lauren Chartres couldn’t help but reflect on the continued evolution of the expo. In the past decade, MICE has remained a permanent fixture of the coffee calendar, hosted the World Coffee Championships, and been a reliable annual place to connect buyers and sellers of the Australian coffee market.
“The 10th edition was a huge milestone for the show. It shows the importance of MICE for the industry, the fact that it’s still going strong after so many years and remains relevant to the industry,” Chartres says.
The expo has grown significantly in the past decade, including the number of visitors and exhibitors both Australia and abroad.
Over 10,000 attendees coming from 56 countries walked through the doors of MICE2023 to see the 125 exhibitors.
“That level of attendance, especially coming out of hosting the 2022 World Coffee Championships, is impressive,” Chartres says.
“The first expo was hosted at the Melbourne Showgrounds, in what was essentially a giant tent, and now has a permanent home at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, a proper exhibition venue that is a true reflection of the sophistication and level of superiority the event has on the global coffee scale.”
The exhibitor stands themselves have also evolved in size and creativity, with more companies looking to make their mark in the competitive coffee landscape.
“The quality of exhibition stands is fantastic. Companies really do invest in the way their stand looks and feels, which is great to see and a credit to the industry, but it’s also not a prerequisite,” says Chartres.
“We know the market is challenged with rising inflation and cost of supplies. What matters above all, is the delivery of product, promotion, and purpose. If a customer can walk away with a great connection, and the exhibitor has had a meaningful conversation that leads to a greater opportunity, then MICE has done its job of connecting buyers and sellers.”
That purpose will continue in the 11th edition of the expo, which has been announced to take place from 12 to 14 May 2024.
Favourite regular features of the expo will return, including the event’s focus on sustainability, utilising waste collection programs and looking at more sustainable cup options, among other things, to make the show more environmentally friendly.
Plans are already underway to introduce new concepts and features that will continue the event’s relevance in the market, and see it evolve with the market’s changing needs.
According to Chartres, the expo is always looking to attract more exhibitors, and hopes to see a high contingent of international exhibitors and visitors return to Melbourne to maximise their market opportunities, and connections in the Asia Pacific.
“MICE will always be a place to connect café owners and baristas with suppliers and manufacturers, but it’s also a place where businesses come to invest in large-scale services if they’re looking for expansion and growth potential,” she says.
MilkLab will continue as the expo’s platinum sponsor in 2024, with returning exhibitors including Veneziano, Bean Cartel, Sanremo, La Marzocco, Coffee Works Express, Southland Merchants, AMC, Bombora, Barista Group, Loring, VortX, Monin, Kerry, Naked Syrups, Riverina Fresh, Procal, Vitasoy and Biopak, to name a few.
Chartres notes that among international exhibitors in recent years have been software developers and manufacturers looking to introduce new technology into the Australian coffee scene. This opportunity extends both ways, as Australian developers of the same technology can offer their services to the international market.
For international guests, the expo provides a unique opportunity to witness the best of the Australian coffee scene and a gateway to the Asia Pacific.
“I think the main selling point of MICE to international exhibitors would be access to the thousands of Australian roasters and café operators who attend, and the potential to make connections with the intention to export their products,” says Chartres.
“It’s also a great opportunity for international visitors to take Australian innovation back to their own countries to help other businesses expand. If the Australian coffee market can remain a source of inspiration and standard to others, it only helps lift the industry as we grow together.”
When making a commitment to travel to the land Down Under, Chartres says it’s important guests get the chance to immerse in the Melbourne café culture and see first-hand why the city’s coffee culture reputation proceeds it.
“Melbourne has always been the home of coffee for Australia. It’s a destination for coffee lovers that has really been cemented over the last 10 years of MICE,” she says.
She adds that many roasting brands, and even foreign coffee professionals now call Melbourne home, including 2013 World Barista Champion Pete Licata of Nomad Coffee Group, who moved permanently to pursue his coffee career.
“The opportunity to showcase Melbourne to international guests every year is really exciting. It’s our cultural DNA but also part of the city’s tourism landscape,” Chartres says.
“Everything you could possibly want to discover in a city can be found in Melbourne.”
MICE is one of many coffee expos that takes place each year on the international coffee calendar, but Chartres says what separates this one is its level of engagement between exhibitors and industry connection with visitors.
“We’ve got a lot of fun competitions and giveaways that are pretty unique. All will be revealed soon,” she says.
MICE 2024 will have an increased focus on attracting visitors from the greater hospitality industry, including catering businesses, retailers, and larger companies looking to expand their horizons for coffee machines in the workplace, all while maintaining a strong focus on the wider coffee industry.
The MICE team hopes to keep the positive momentum and the growth of the expo moving forward, with next year’s edition featuring the return of the Product Innovation Awards that will include a new category specifically for roasters.
“MICE is the place to be in 2024. Get yourself down here. Book your flights and accommodation early, and make the most of ‘that trip to Australia you always wanted,’” Chartres says. “It really is a one-stop shop for those looking to break into the Australian market.”
For more information, visit www.internationalcoffeeexpo.com