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MICE a ticket to the world

From the August 2018 issue.

MICE2019 is primed to become the hottest event on the international coffee circuit. We find out why the world is stopping to take notice and what lures visitors Down Under.

Summer in Australia is what tourist dreams are made of: sun, surf and shorts, endless hours of sunlight, balmy nights, barbecues, and no excuse needed to indulge in ice cream or another cold brew coffee. 

For the coffee industry’s European and American business leaders and decision makers, a trip to Melbourne to attend the eighth edition of the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) from 7 to 9 February, 2019, will be a welcome respite from the bitterly cold conditions back home.

If that’s not enough to convince the boss a ‘business trip’ to the land of Oz is a worthwhile investment to promote your product or service at Asia Pacific’s largest coffee dedicated event, event organisers promise an experience to rival the time when Melbourne hosted the World Barista Championship (WBC) in 2013.

“MICE is the first major coffee event to kick-off the year, one of the most revered expos on the circuit, and arguably a crowd favourite by exhibitor and attendee standards, but we invite our international guests to be the judge,” says MICE Show Director Simon Coburn.

For industry members who plan their year around trade events, conferences, expos and the world’s coffee competitions, attending MICE is the first event to lock in, giving guests a large enough gap to continue their travels or retreat back home before making their way to the Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston, United States from 11 to 14 April, which will host the WBC, and World of Coffee in Berlin, Germany from 8 to 10 June.

“Next year is going to be huge,” Coburn says. “MICE hosts what is already considered a world-class expo, but next year we want to be acknowledged as the first must-attend event on the global coffee calendar.”

Earlier this year, the decision to relocate MICE to the central city location of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) was made after hosting the event for the past seven years at the Melbourne Showgrounds in the city’s suburbs.

From the very beginning in 2012, MICE was created as Australia’s first and only coffee-dedicated trade show to connect buyers and sellers, and bring industry members together in the one space. With time, MICE has evolved into an important part of the Australian and world coffee community fabric. It hosted the WBC and World Brewers Cup in 2013, and World Latte Art Championship and Coffee in Good Spirits Championship in 2014, but the event has never lost sight of its original focus.

“Seven years ago, Australia was one of the most sophisticated coffee countries in the world, but it didn’t have a coffee dedicated tradeshow until we launched MICE,” says Brad Buchanan, Chairman of the MICE Organising Committee. “MICE was created to generate opportunities for businesses, to start partnerships and for the coffee community to connect. It exists as a collaboration.”

Each year, that collaboration occurs between hundreds of exhibitors and visitors, such as industry leaders, influences, business owners and employees representing the entire supply chain.

“The fact that MICE is now recognised as a global attraction, much like World of Coffee and the Specialty Coffee Expo are each year, is proof that it’s fulfilled its core purpose, and its voice in the market is ongoing,” Buchanan says.

For Ross Quail of Slayer Espresso Asia Pacific and Australian Barista Championship Head Judge, MICE has given the Southern Hemisphere a dedicated coffee event to call its own.

“Many people epitomise the WBC as the holy grail of coffee events, wherever that may be each year, but it’s a huge financial undertaking when we have our own elite event right on our doorstep,” Quail says. “MICE represents an opportunity to see the best industry exhibitors and competitors in a world-class setting, and the chance for international judges to get mentoring experience before going to the WBC. Attendance is excellent, the competitions are world class and our community spirit is infectious.”

Each year at MICE there is a growing representation of guests from the Asia Pacific making their way over, with strong country presence from Singapore, Malaysia, and China. And why? Because it’s achievable, Quail says. “It’s not so far to travel for the Asian market, and why wouldn’t you want an excuse to travel to Australia?”

More than just a chance to do business, Quail says coming to Melbourne for MICE gives attendees the greatest excuse to explore our coffee culture.

“Melbourne can be positioned as a holistic tourist research and development trip as well as the chance to see and experience some of the best coffee and cafés in the Southern Hemisphere,” he says.

One person who has done just that is former Japan Barista Champion and 2014 World Barista Champion Hidenori Isaki, who has attended MICE for the past three years and needs no convincing to return.

“It is globally obvious that the Australian coffee community is the most advanced specialty coffee market. MICE is a well known exhibition for the coffee community and people who want to know what the future of our industry looks like,” Isaki says.

Since winning the WBC, Isaki has worked as a coach consultant for barista competitors, and naturally, he travels where the work is. 

“As a consultant, I have clients who are based in Asian countries. The Australian community is their role model. Each market and business idea often comes out from the culture and quality led by the Australian coffee community,” he says. “From a competition point of view,

Australia’s coffee championship is the most competitive competition in the world without any doubt. It is highly important for myself to follow the Australian competition and estimate what the WBC is going to be like.”

This year’s MICE saw an attendee increase of 14.5 per cent on the year prior with 11,043 visitors from 39 countries including Burundi, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Great Britain, India, Laos, Myanmar, the Netherlands, New Caledonia, Peru, Russia, South Africa and United Arab Emirates.

“MICE has become an anchor point for international guests to connect with new and existing Australian customers and do serious business,” Coburn says.

Of those who attended this year’s event, the top reasons were looking for new products, equipment and technology, seeing existing suppliers, sourcing new suppliers, tasting different coffee, watching the coffee championships and comparing products of suppliers.

Cafetto cleaning agents has seen the potential of MICE from day one as the event’s official sponsor. The brand uses the opportunity to connect with the Australian market, generate new leads and meet international guests.

“Exhibitions and events like MICE attract a quality audience and provide us with the opportunity to connect with our customers and other industry professionals. Delegates have the chance to come along to our stand see all of our products,” says Cafetto Founder Christopher Short. “As we’re a known brand in Australia’s coffee industry, it’s important to revisit discussions with customers and cement relationships, and MICE is the most efficient and impactful way to do this. We will be back in 2019.”

MICE organisers hope the rest of the international coffee community eagerly anticipates MICE2019 with more than 80 per cent of show floor sold. Event Director Coburn says plans are well underway to deliver a standout show, and one as memorable as the inaugural MICE in 2012.

“We warmly welcome the rest of the world to join in the celebrations and the many opportunities that MICE presents,” Coburn says. “There’s no place you’d rather be than Melbourne in February 2019.”

For more information on MICE2019 or to exhibit, contact MICE organisers at
event.organiser@primecreative.com.au or
+61 3 9690 8766, or visit
www.internationalcoffeeexpo.com

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