February 15, 2019

MICE 2019: What Went Down Down Under?


Australia is well-known for its vibrant specialty coffee scene and, last week, the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) 2019 celebrated this for the eighth year running.

Established as an event for industry professionals back in 2012, MICE has grown to be a world-class coffee expo and a highlight of the global coffee calendar. It is now the most extensive coffee exhibition in the southern hemisphere.

This year’s event took place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from February 7th to 9th. The spacious complex housed cuppings, demonstrations, competitions, and more. Take a look at the themes, products, and events that had people talking this year.

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MICE 2019 welcomed attendees from every area of the coffee industry.

Coffee For Everyone

MICE attracted thousands of attendees from every part of the coffee industry, along with passionate coffee consumers. The core programme of events had less of a focus on lectures and presentations, and more of an emphasis on hands-on learning. Activities including cuppings, latte art demonstrations, and barista competitions made sure that there was always something to keep you engaged.

It was a good opportunity to discover new coffee: numerous roasters were in attendance, from big names such as Lavazza to smaller micro-roasters. Several companies showcased their offerings in the dedicated cupping room, where newcomers and experts alike could also pick up some tips on tasting.

A sign shows the way to the cupping room at MICE 2019.

There was plenty there for espresso-lovers, too: John Buchman of Decent Espresso Machine held a workshop that delved into the science behind espresso manipulation. Attendees learned how temperature and flow profiling impact their final cup.

Australian Latte Art Champion Shinsaku Fukayama showed guests what he is known for at the Alternative Dairy Co. stand. Swiss Barista Champion and Nuova Simonelli Ambassador Andre Eichmann also held demonstrations at the Espresso Mechanics stand.

A barista pours latte art at MICE 2019.

A Networking Opportunity

Like all industry expos, the event was also a great place to make connections. Facilitated interactions took place at Origin Alley, where attendees could meet producers and representatives from producing countries around the world. Meet the Farmer chats at the Riverina Fresh stand were another popular feature that allowed guests to ask producers direct questions and learn more about coffee origins.

The Roasters Alley and Espresso Bar also provided opportunities for local and international roasters to display the best of their coffees and interact with consumers.

One event that particularly stood out was Heroes & Heroines of The Coffee Industry. This relaxed series of short-format interviews was part of the Barista Social Club by Freedom Foods Group. Run in collaboration with Specialty Coffee Curators and San Remo Coffee Machines, the interviews were well-attended and highly anticipated.

Interviewees included Sasa Sestic (Ona Coffee, Project Origin, and 2015 World Barista Champion), Jibbi Little (Jibbi Jug and Jibbi Little Roasting Co), Anne Cooper (Equilibrium Roast Masters), Demelza Jones (Same Cup), and Tom Bomford (Square One), to name just a few. Each speaker detailed how they started out in the industry and the challenges they encountered along the way. In doing so, they brought the human side of coffee into the spotlight.

Attendees watch the Championships with interest.

A Venue For Competition

MICE 2019 also boasted an impressive competition line-up, hosting five different events under the Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) 2019 Australian Coffee Championships. This year’s event was rescheduled after fears that the original date wouldn’t allow competitors to attend Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston.

The five official competitions at MICE 2019 were the Australian Vitasoy Barista Championship, The Brewers Cup, Pauls Professional Latte Art, TCX Cup Tasters, and AMC Roasting Championship. There were also more light-hearted competitions, such as the Barista Big Bash which saw former Barista and Latte Art Champions take each other on in a caffeinated smackdown.

Then there was the MILKLAB Barista Battle Series, which saw competitors use non-dairy milks to craft creative patterns. Jibbi Little of JibbiJug won an all-expenses-paid trip to Vietnam in the final, with Andy Tseng of Darkstar Coffee, Roberth Villanueva of Art Roberth Studios, and Corey Williams of West End Coffee Society placing second, third, and fourth respectively.

The Milk Lab.

Standout Events & Products

So, with all this going on at MICE, what stood out to us? Firstly, MICE’s focus on sustainability and waste reduction at the event itself.

Sponsor TCX used the opportunity to promote its reusable cup subscription service. Guests could subscribe to receive a TCX cup linked to an account. They used the cups during the event and returned them at participating cafés or a collection point when done. It was great to see that thousands of people could enjoy coffee without creating a mass of paper cup waste.

The 2019 Product Innovation Awards were a great opportunity to see new gadgets and innovative equipment. Espresso machine manufacturer Rancilio exhibited its specialty-focused Rancilio Specialty RS1 and placed second in the Judges’ Choice Award. BrewBar placed first with its Energy Bar, which is a software-managed system that regulates the output of electricity as required by a coffee machine.

United Supplies won the People’s Choice category for its Milkit Dual Milk Tap, an automated milk-on-tap dispenser that reduces milk waste and improves efficiency, cleanliness, and milk portioning. The system allows two kinds of milk to be dispensed from two taps in unison.

And La Marzocco showcased their latest and highly anticipated product, the KB90. Named after Kent Bakke, the man behind many of the innovations at La Marzocco, the KB90 features a straight-in portafilter that is designed to improve workflow and allow faster drink production while maintaining quality.

MICE is the biggest it’s ever been, with a record-breaking 12,000 people in attendance over the three days. But that might quickly be overshadowed – next year, the event is set to host the World Barista Championship. There’s only more to look forward to with Australia’s favourite coffee event.

Enjoyed this? Check out Australian Coffee Trends in 2018 & What’s Brewing in 2019

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