MICE2022 returned after three long years, and it was worth the wait with the international coffee community exploring the revival of the Australian coffee scene.
The return of the 2022 Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) was the biggest coffee family union the industry has seen since the height of 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.
“Since the inception of MICE in 2012, it has been a destination to do business by connecting buyers and sellers under the one roof annually and forming client relationships. The expo was already the largest dedicated coffee expo in the Southern Hemisphere, and thanks to a return attendance after three years of postponement, we are proud to reinstate that title once again and announce the expo as being our highest attended ever,” 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,” says Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp. “[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.”
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 with guest speakers including La Marzocco UK and Ireland’s General Manager Paul Kelly, Sustainable Harvest’s David Griswold, and Eversys’ Director of Business Development and Marketing at Eversys Kamal Bengougam.
The event then concluded with a live auction. In total $30,836 was raised for CafeSmart training and employment programs for migrants and youth in Australia.
Golf participant and guest speaker Bengougam says as much as the day was a great networking opportunity there was a bigger message at play. “[It] reminded me that even in hardship, we should remain generous and keep an eye out for those who may be less fortunate than we are,” he says.
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.
The big reveal
As the doors to the ninth edition of MICE opened and guests walked through the doors, they were met with a spectacular view of more than 170 exhibitors representing all sector of the global coffee supply chain. The eager exhibitors were 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.
Over on the World Barista Championship (WBC) stage, visitors started filling the grandstands with competition underway, with the bellowing of the emcees providing an exciting ambiance.
For many international guests such as Eversys’ Bengougam from London, attending MICE was a chance to meet people from all over the world and conduct meetings with friends not seen in years.
“It was as if time had stood still. People were smiling, sipping cups of espresso attentively, laughing…life as it used to be,” Bengougam says. “For Eversys, we had two partners with a great presence – Service Sphere and Tiger Coffee – exhibiting our machines. Our Super Traditional range caught the eye, led by the Shotmaster Pro that combines both market-leading performance, uncompromising in cup quality and eye-catching aesthetics.”
Bengougam says the exhibition was well attended and “business opportunities were alive”.
Over at the Vortx KleanAir Systems stand which displayed the Ecofilter, President Ron Kleist had travelled from the United States and says the experience was “far better than I had dared imagine”.
“The quality of attendees and their deep knowledge of all-things coffee is a solid testimonial to the leadership position of Australia in the global specialty coffee community,” Kleist says.
“It was so wonderful to see so many coffee aficionados in one place at one time and enjoy being together in what seems like forever. Having the WBC and the World Brewers Cup at the same time added so much energy and excitement to the event. We got sales leads. We will be back, and will be bigger next year.”
Brambati CEO Fabrizio Brambati travelled from Italy to display the KAR 15 roaster and 15-kilogram batch capacity. He says it was great to see Brambati’s clients after more than two years, and to make new contacts.
“To participate to this exhibition is one of the signs of a return to normality. To meet all these people with whom to discuss of future projects instead of the pandemic situation was also a great achievement,” Brambati says.
Before we knew it, day one had ended, and it was time to celebrate with La Marzocco at Starward Whisky distillery.
Day two of MICE 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.
Back at the MCEC, it was time to talk tech and explore new innovations.
Victoria Arduino displayed its new Black Eagle Maverick espresso machine, and brand-new PureBrew Filter Coffee, which the Australian coffee community appreciated.
“As Victoria Arduino, we also continued to support the best baristas worldwide with Mythos, the official grinder of the World Barista Championship. Mythos confirmed its positioning as the best-in-class grinder and we are proud to support the best competition in the world,” says
Australian equipment distributor Coffee Works Express celebrated the Qualified Espresso Machine of the WBC, Tempesta, in addition to models from Slayer, Wega, Mazzer, and Astoria.
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 first-time MICE participant Eureka Grinders, Marketing Officer Andrea Ballocci says his experience was largely positive.
“It has been a unique opportunity to offer a direct Eureka experience to the many baristas and coffee shops owners of the Australian and southeast Asian market. And at the same time a great moment of mutual enrichment, breathing firsthand the feelings and trends of a market so fascinating and so unique,” Ballocci says. “We had many previews at our booth, representative of the last Eureka’s new generation of coffee grinders.”
Eureka Grinders presented the Mignon Libra, the latest innovation equipped with a new instant grind weighing technology; and the Atom Excellence, the new ultra-compact solution with endurance and premium usability. It also showcased Prometheus, the flagship of its offer for high-volume sales coffee corners, considered a “perfect synthesis between design and innovation, technology and style”.
For many brands, MICE was the first opportunity 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.
“The great desire to meet again in person was truly remarkable about this year’s MICE, reflected not only by the crowds of visitors in the aisles but especially at the Probat booth,” says Probat’s Iris Gerlach. “Here, attendees took an equal interest both in the UG22 drum roaster and the electrically powered Sample Roaster. Whereas the former attracted great attention, due to its unmistakable individuality in particular, the Sample Roaster sparked ample discussions revolving around Probat’s manifold and ambitious approaches to decarbonising the coffee industry.”
Hemro Group displayed its Mahlkönig Grind by Weight E65s and E80S models. Hemro Group Head of Sales Asia Pacific Ross Quail says the Australians were able to support local barista Anthony Douglas on home soil, but that it was particularly significant for the industry to gather again after such a long time.
“I’d have to say overall that it was great to be amongst the nation’s coffee people,” he says.
On the Brewers Cup competition stage, competition got underway with fans marvelling at the presentations and finesse of the brewing techniques.
That evening, UCC coffee invited customers to its new roastery opening where guests marvelled at the capacity of the facility. De’Longhi MCW events also continued this evening, with the Single O World(ish) Parachute Championship and Cafe Imports ‘Where are we now’ events taking place. All registration fees for De’Longhi MCW were donated to MICE official Charity Partner StreetSmart, working to fight homelessness.
The halfway point
Day three of MICE was an opportunity to refuel with plenty of coffee options at Roaster’s Alley, including Australian specialty roasters Toby’s Estate, St Ali, Mocopan, and Veneziano Coffee Roasters.
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.
That afternoon the Semi finalists of the WBC and WBrC were announced, more social events continued, and the Victoria Arduino Lab got bustling with a Pure Brew party with the 2017 World Coffee in Good Spirits Champion Martin Hudak.
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, Weber Workshops’ Unifilter portafilter won the People’s Choice award, and Eureka Grinders’ Prometheus grinder won the Ancillary Electrical Equipment award, in what Eureka’s Ballocci describes as “the cherry on the top” for its first direct participation in MICE.
Attention then turned to the World Brewers Cup competition stage where Shih Yuan Hsu (Sherry) of Taiwan was crowned the 2022 World Brewers Cup 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 ranked one by one until Australia’s Anthony Douglas stood side-by-side with the United States’ Morgan Eckroth. It was a moment resembling the same situation in 2013, when Melbourne last hosted the WBC – when Australia’s Matthew Perger placed runner-up to America’s Pete Licata. This time, the placings reversed, and Douglas was crowned the 2022 World Barista Champion. It was a fairy-tale ending to MICE2022 – a Melbourne world champion, at a Melbourne-hosted event, in what was the biggest MICE Melbourne, and world, had 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 was first published in the November/December 2022 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.