What went down at Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) 2022?
From product innovations to a new World Barista Champion, MICE came back with a bang last week. Our reporter, Jordan Montgomery, was in attendance.
The three-year wait finally came to an end.
The much-loved Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) returned with all the fanfare expected of an event which had endured a forced hiatus since 2019.
More than 15,000 attendees showed their support at the Melbourne Convention Centre between 27 and 30 September, all itching to experience the latest in coffee technology and innovations – as well as the highly-anticipated World Coffee Championships (WCC).
And it didn’t disappoint. Here is a roundup of this year’s highlights from MICE.
New barista champions are crowned
In the World Brewers Cup competition, Taiwan’s Shig Yuan Hsu (Sherry) won first place with a carbonic macerated naturally processed Gesha from Colombia. Using a single coffee that had been ground to two different sizes, she carefully manipulated different temperatures of water to extract various compounds and flavours from the coffee.
In the World Barista Championship, Australia’s Anthony Douglas of Axil Coffee Roasters claimed first place using an anaerobic natural processed Sidra from El Diviso, Colombia, and also used cryodessicated (freeze-dried) milk in his milk beverages. Significantly, he’s now the first competitor to win in both his home country and city.
Each year, invested coffee professionals analyse these high-level routines to learn about growing innovations and trends in coffee brewing, which are then typically embraced across the world.
This year, controlled fermentation and unique coffee varieties were at the forefront of both competitions. Once again, several competitors made use of the Coffea eugenioides species – the same one used by last year’s WBC winner, Diego Campos.
New products and innovations
Many brands took advantage of the return of the Australian coffee expo to demonstrate the launch of new product ranges. For example, Happy Happy Foods’ revealed its expanded alternative milk range and Arkadia Beverages’ launched a new range of teas and infusions.
However, all eyes were on the MICE Product Innovation Awards, an event that recognises new innovations and developments in products and technology that will shape the coffee industry going forward.
The winner of the 2022 Product Innovation Award was the Compass by Nucleus Coffee Tools, an infrared thermometer designed to guide the coffee drinking experience through specific temperature stages.
Angus Mackie, Head of Customer Support and Innovation Development at Nucleus Coffee Tools, explained that the aim of developing the Compass was to connect everyday consumers with more complex coffees – and to maximise each experience.
“The more time I have spent with coffee, the more I have realised that they do have moments where they do taste best,” he said.
“Often, these moments are lost when drinking too fast, too slowly, or if they only have one chance to have this one coffee. Once I realised how much hard work goes into each cup, and how soon those moments are finished, I thought that we needed to make a tool that helps the customer to find those moments.”
He added that with so much focus currently placed on extraction, there’s a lot more to be done to educate professionals and consumers about the importance of the work done pre and post-extraction.
“There are many moments in the post-extraction area that many baristas don’t know much about, but that’s when the customer drinks the coffee and all the hard work that has gone into the coffee really matters,” he said.
Nucleus Coffee Tools also held a soft launch of its new Link roaster, which was used by several competitors across the World Barista Championships and World Brewers Cup.
Sam Corra of Nucleus Coffee Tools worked closely with sample roaster company Kaffelogic to produce the Link. He explained that although the collaboration was first aimed at creating a sample roaster for competitors and end consumers, the focus quickly shifted to creating a product that was accessible and affordable for producers and sample roasting.
“Too often, it is the quality of the roast that results in many great coffees being left unpurchased on cupping tables,” he said. “The goal then changed to find a way that we can solve this.”
Brewing up a home barista market
One of the main focuses for many exhibitors of MICE was presenting and demonstrating tools for home baristas and brewers.
John Jan, Executive Director of HARIO Japan, told me that there are many motivations for expanding the range of products for home consumers, particularly in light of the events in recent years.
“With Covid-19 and so many people being indoors a lot, we were thinking that once it was over and things were getting better, that people would be heading out a lot more, away from the city and into the outdoors,” he explained.
As such, HARIO launched the HARIO Outdoor range of products at MICE 2022, alongside an all-new sub-brand – Zebrang – targeted at backpackers. These products were displayed in an outdoor camping setting, complete with tent and portable furniture.
John said that despite the reopening of many coffee businesses in recent months, he expects the home brewing and “prosumer” markets to continue to flourish.
“We think that now that people are able to go back to their favourite shops, we believe that both will grow in parallel,” he said. “People who missed going to their favourite shops will finally be able to do that, and people who have bought the kits to do so at some will continue to do that.”
Ultimately, he suggested that all around the world, coffee consumption will keep growing.
“Regardless of where it is around the world, coffee drinking is only going to continue growing. So we feel like we want to put more effort and energy into developing an outdoor and camping range, as we think that’s where we’ll grow.”
With MICE over for another year, many attendees – professionals and home consumers alike – may already be experimenting with what they learned at the event.
Sam concluded that industry events such as MICE represent not only an opportunity to share ongoing work in the supply chain and product innovation, but inspire attendees to achieve their own level of excellence going forward.
“I hope that there were many Australian coffee enthusiasts in the crowds at MICE, who like me have had their eyes further opened to the wonderful, global world of coffee,” he said. “Events like these inspire others to pursue and achieve their dreams through such platforms and future world coffee events.”
All photo credits: Sinan Muslu