On a crisp Melbourne autumn morning with a spectacular sunrise, we already had a queue at the coffee machine a whole hour before the doors officially opened. Yes, it was time for the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) 2017. As the largest specialty coffee show in Australia, MICE is no small undertaking for Five Senses. The stand space alone is a big expense and, let’s be honest, we tend to get just a wee bit overexcited when it comes to sharing things with coffee-loving folk. Jacob Ibarra makes things even more difficult. Our Director of Coffee was a little too effective at his job, sourcing an exciting collection of coffees on his recent origin trips. Which to choose? Which would miss out? Which did we need to airfreight from far-away countries? In the end, I think we showed admirable restraint; we only had 17 coffees on the bar.
The event itself was so epic, it’s almost hard to describe it all. In the stand-alone space, we created a 360 degree wrap around bar, decking it out with a plethora of the latest coffee kit.
The backbone of the coffee service was a stunning Synesso MVP Hydra. Working with Dan at Specht Design along with Owen Mackie, a concrete guru, we brought to life a unique machine using electroplated brass details, eucalyptus powder coat, walnut steam arms and portafilters and, for the first time, we had concrete group paddles and a concrete back panel with brass detailing. It was a lot of fun putting this machine together and it worked like a charm, turning out shot after shot of both the house blends and rotating single origins all show long.
Further along the bar, we featured our crowd favourites the Ethiopian Ardi and Yirgzero from our partner, Sammy Demisse of Keffa Coffee. These were all served from the Marco Bru batch brew. Sammy helped us airfreight one sack each of the fresh crop of these stalwarts direct from Ethiopia and the extra effort paid off – the latest harvest of the Ardi was full of fresh blueberry juice and rich dark chocolate while the Yirgzero displayed its distinctive florals, cushioned on a delicious texture, almost like an apricot-chew.
MICE can be pretty hectic and it’s sometimes hard to find the time to just enjoy the great coffee on offer. To address this, fully half of our stand was dedicated to a brew bar aimed at slowing people down and encouraging them to take a moment to really engage with the coffees.
Equipped with six Marco SP9 units, allowing us to brew small filter batches to order, we offered up four different filter tasting flights, each showcasing a different area of coffee. My personal favourite was the flight featuring The Long Miles Coffee Project, offering three washed and natural coffees from Ben and Kristy Carlson and their mills in Burundi – incredible coffees with such positive people behind them.
We’re lucky enough to be the Australian representatives of some incredible equipment brands – Marco, Synesso, Acaia and Baratza. We set up a demo space for people to get ‘hands on’ with all this great gear and, alongside a shiny Synesso MVP Hydra, we had the new Baratza Sette 270W (grinding by weight FTW!) and the brand new Marco MIX unit which combines the new eco-friendly under counter boiler with a slick in-bench dispense tap, delivering three different temperatures mixed on the fly. Keep your eye out for this kit on the benches of specialty tea and coffee spots worldwide soon!
Lastly, we brought together an awesome collection of great coffees and some new products for people to grab in our Pop Up shop. We were particularly excited about the super limited run of our Colombian Cultivar Collection: 100g filter roasts of five unique and unusual cultivars personally sourced by Jacob on his recent trip to Colombia. It was an incredible way to help people explore an exciting group of producers who are pairing their particular micro climates with coffee varieties. They’re all sold out now, but keep your eyes peeled for future tasty treats.
We also released our sweet new Wayfarer travel bag. A collaboration with Melbourne locals, Tailfeather, it’s the perfect leather and canvas container for all your camping, glamping or general travel-based coffee needs.
We’re selling the bag solo if you’ve already got all of your brewing tools, but also as a full kit – Aeropress, hand grinder, enamel cup + bag o’ coffee. It’s a fun project!
So MICE was an epic three days of coffee. Much love to our partners including Sarah and Aaron from Synesso, James from Marco, Rex from Acaia, Sammy from Keffa and Carlos from Cofinet who all came to visit and hang with us on the stand. Big props to our incredible team of coffee pros on the tools too; they brewed a crazy amount of tasty coffees all while having heaps of fun. And last, but certainly not least, thanks to all of you who came down to say hi, share a coffee with us and remind us how passionate Australia is about specialty coffee. See you again next year.