Merry old Melbourne town. Man-buns, burly beards and skinny jeans still rule the roost, and the coffee scene is still in full swing.
I got to spend a couple of days across the way to check out this year’s edition of M.I.C.E. (or the Melbourne International Coffee Expo for those of you not so keen on an acronym) and see where our favourite drink is heading.
While I’ll always have my feet in the ‘good coffee… and fast’ camp, there are certainly lots of other areas being explored in the coffee industry in Melbourne. Here’s a few of the things I took on board...
Specialty coffee has been on the rise for some time now and it’s great to see people from known and new coffee producing countries at M.I.C.E. It’s a chance to learn more about these countries, the coffees they produce and the flavours their coffees bring to the table. I got to take a quick taste tour of Burundi coffee this time around, and was really impressed with its berry and stone fruit notes. You also get an insight to some of the unique challenges each country faces in both production and distribution and a greater appreciation of just how much effort goes into each cup.
Unlike the darker roasts that are more common over these parts, a lot of the coffee I saw and tasted was roasted and dumped around the ‘first crack’ mark. Roasting the beans to this point creates much more pronounced fruit and herbal notes in the cup, with notes similar to high-end wines and craft beers. The flavours and aromas were certainly intense and the descriptions had you feeling more like you were in the middle of an orchard or market garden than a cafe…roasted capsicum and ripe peaches in your brew anyone?
Once again, coffee constantly amazes me in its ability to bring people together. One of the things I noticed was the level of information the roasters, baristas and serving staff happily share with you when it comes to the coffee you’re tasting. Want to know more about the family or the village that grew your coffee? Sure. Was that coffee wet or naturally processed? They can tell you that too. Every facet of production and person involved in the journey from seed to cup is shared with you, and gives you an even greater appreciation of how each decision that’s made in the coffee production process plays its part in the final product.
There’s certainly a movement toward other ways to coax out the flavours of coffee already happening in our neck of the woods, but it is really interesting to see the level that Melbournians take every coffee production method to. Cool glassware, filters, kettles and all manner of apparatus take the simple act of pouring a bit of hot water over some ground coffee and turn it into an almost theatrical performance. The flavours that come from the resulting pour overs, cold brews and even the trusty old French press are all equally delicious, and I can see more and more people gaining the confidence to tinker and experiment with their favourite coffee or try new single origins in the comfort of their own home.
Yet again, MICE has left me with a head full of ideas, a greater appreciation of how great it is to be part of such an interesting industry, and a keenness to find ways to share some of the cool things I’ve seen with you instore.