This past week we have been showcasing our locally roasted White Horse Coffee and ACME & Co. Cups at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo, affectionately known as MICE. Before we left for Melbourne, we wrote a short article about what MICE is and why you should care (find it here), so we won’t rehash any of that info in this post. Rather, this time we just want to share why we love it and why we think events like this are important.
Our thoughts, inspired by three days of connecting a passionate coffee community with a passionate coffee industry under one roof, fueled by an incredible amount of very good coffee.
Obviously MICE is about coffee. But not just any coffee – passionately grown, lovingly roasted, beautifully brewed coffee. Yes the best thing about MICE is the impressive quality of the coffee and the dedication of the people who grow, roast and brew it. Every independent roaster had something amazing on offer and all our staff commented on how inspired they were by tasting these coffees.
MICE gives roasters and cafe owners like us the opportunity to showcase our coffee, but also, maybe more importantly, it allows us the chance to experience some of the best coffee in the country roasted and brewed by some of the best Baristas in the world.
There were also several coffee championships being held, from roasting, brewing filter coffee, latte art, cup tasting, as well as the Australian Barista Championships. Watching the dedication of these people made me (Dom) think of my twenties and how much time they’ve invested to get to this level.
It’s hard not to be inspired by being immersed in an environment like this. We loved watching our staff walk around the event tasting coffee and chatting to passionate well-educated coffee professionals from different companies. One conversation after another the bar was being raised higher and higher in the specialty coffee movement in Australia. This is good for everyone, the coffee professionals and the community who enjoy our coffee. Already post MICE we have had several meetings on how to improve our store, how we can improve our training and how we can be more involved in the competitive arena next year.
The Community and Camaraderie
The sense of community is strong at MICE. Meeting new people and catching up with old friends is always a good thing. But the community at MICE is so strong that it offers a feeling of togetherness and camaraderie as we all seek the same goal – exceptional coffee experiences.
You’d think by putting many of the big competitors in the Australian specialty coffee scene under one roof would magnify the competitive spirit, but this could not be further from the truth. Of course every brand was seeking to gain attention and deepen love for their brand, but the sense of togetherness is much stronger than the sense of competition between the brands that were there.
After all, we’re in the hospitality business and true to form, the goodwill and generosity was impressive. We sensed a high level of maturity in the industry and most understand that there is enough room for all of us and as the specialty coffee culture spreads it wings there is more than enough opportunity to go around.
We had a constant flow of people coming to our stand having been sent by other coffee brands. It was common to hear “such and such coffee said we should come over and try your coffee, they said it was delicious” And of course we returned the favour by recommending other coffee brands to try. We’d like to pay particular respect to the following brands that made us some very special coffee.
- Toby’s Estate
- Ona Coffee
- Axil Coffee Roasters
- Five Senses
The camaraderie and sense of team was also strong amongst ourselves as we travelled together and worked alongside each other doing what we love. We get that on a daily basis at home, but there’s something more profound in a shared experience of showcasing our coffee to a new and wider audience.
And lastly, while we were in Melbourne, as always we make a commitment to visit as many fine coffee establishments as possible. So in the early hours of the morning before MICE opened it’s doors we walked the dark streets of Melbourne in search of the best coffee we could find. Thanks to the following cafes that brewed us remarkably special coffee.
- Patricia Coffee Brewers
- Auction Rooms
- Slater Street Bench
- Axil Coffee Roasters
- St Ali
- Kettle Black
- Market Lane
We were very spoilt by the hospitality of the Melbourne coffee scene and the wonderful people at MICE! Have we inspired you to think about going to MICE next year?
We hope so.
Dom & Darryn
PS. And by the way we also won a Bronze for our White Knight blend.