As the largest coffee event in a region obsessed with getting the most out of the brewed bean, the 2019 edition of the Melbourne International Coffee Expo was not getting any smaller. Ensconced in its new location at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, on the south bank of the Yarra in the heart of Melbourne’s ever changing coffee scene, the event was a celebration of all things coffee in the place that is at the forefront of growing our knowledge and understanding of coffee and coffee culture.
Being the premiere coffee event for the Asia Pacific region, there were no shortage of coffee-related stallholders keen to discuss their products and show off their wares. From roasters, to growers to importers, as well as equipment and drink suppliers, the many planets that occupy the coffee universe were in alignment.
Of course, expos such as this are not just for chatting and connecting, they are also about competing, and there were some of the most talented coffee professionals in the world who had assembled in the hope of taking home one of the crowns on offer at MICE. In the field of product innovation, EnergyBar were awarded for their ingenious solution to power for espresso machines. Allowing a coffee set up to run without a power connection for a five hour time frmae, EnergyBar will be extending the possibilities of espresso coffee. The gong for cupping went to Yanina Ferreyra, while the cup tasters champion was MJ Kim of Shamble Coffee Brewers. In the latte art competition Jibbi Little took the top prize, while Matthew Lewin was crowned Australian Barista Champion for 2019. The winners in each category will go on to represent Australia at the 2019 world championships in each of their fields.
Away from the bright lights of coffee championships, however, other attendees were seeing the future of coffee unfold. The design of espresso machines is something that is continually improving, with designs such as Aremde’s Nexus One demonstrating the potential of innovation in this area. Other new products on display were a wider range of milk alternatives and improved formulas for staples such as soy and almond that use less ingredients and have a greater focus on natural ingredients. In the realm of coffee itself, a long, hot summer may have inspired the greater attention on cold brew products, with many roasters pushing their pre-packaged cold brew products onto attendees, while highlighting their specialty coffee qualities.
Although any event of this magnitude would have its moments of chaos and teeter on the edge of overwhelming, MICE 2019 clearly demonstrated the wealth of thought and innovation that is currently occurring in the world of coffee. In recognition of that, it was announced at the end of the three days that the 2020 world barista championships will be returning to Melbourne, solidifying this city’s reputation as the mecca of coffee.