MICE 2024 – Wrapping Up Our Tenth year

As the curtains draw to a close on the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) 2024, we find ourselves reflecting on a journey that has spanned a remarkable decade. Celebrating our tenth year at the expo, it’s incredible to see how time has flown by!

Despite being half its usual size this year, the expo was buzzing with energy and excitement. We were one of just three roasters present, which made our booths the focal points of the event, drawing in large crowds eager to experience our unique offerings.


Our set up


This year, we operated out of two dynamic sections at the expo: our main central booth featured an Espresso and Filter bar, while our outpost was dedicated to engaging, interactive events.

At the central booth, attendees enjoyed our classic setup with filter offerings on one side and espresso on the other. The stars behind the espresso bar were the new La Marzocco Strada S ABR and the innovative SWAN grinder, paired with the trusted WOLLY. We were thrilled to showcase our beloved blends; Blackbird and Corcovado, along with our seasonal Autumn Serenade blend, pulling in coffee lovers like bees to honey, especially on Sunday when the queue seemed endless!

Our filter bar was equally a hive of activity, where we ran four pourover sensory flights, each featuring three distinct coffees. Our flights were: Colombian Innovations, Australian Coffee, Ecuador’s Pillcocaja farm, and Panamanian Ninety Plus gems.


Our Activities


At our outpost, the excitement continued with three engaging activities. The “Game of Tongues” guessing game had 564 participants trying to pinpoint the origin, process, and varietal of different coffees. With 102 scoring 6/9 or above, and 22 achieving perfect scores, the competition was fierce, culminating in a lucky draw for a coveted Comandante grinder.

“Barista’s Choice” was another crowd-pleaser, where attendees had the unique opportunity to help select our next micro-lot. The favourite turned out to be a Kenyan PB from Gachatha Coffee Factory in Nyeri, set for release this coming July.

Lastly, our “Intro to Cupping Masterclass” provided a hands-on learning experience, led by our team of certified Q-graders. This event turned out to be such a success, we’ve now rolled it out with our cafe partners across various locations around the country.


How we managed our recipes


Before we wrap up this post, we wanted to address the plethora of questions about how we managed our recipes with so many coffees and so many baristas. While we believe each coffee needs its own tailored recipe to highlight its best qualities, we had to strategise in order to serve hundreds of coffees per hour. Here’s how we did it.


Sensory Flights


For our our four sensory flights, we used a specific recipe for each flight, but the same recipe was used for each coffee within that flight.

The dose, brew ratio, and grind setting remained the same across all flights: 16g of coffee to 240g of water, with a coarse grind size, approx. 14 on the EK43.

We adjusted the pouring structure and water temperature based on the coffees. Fewer pours and lower temperature for more fermented coffees, and more pours and higher water temperature for washed and cleaner style coffees.

We used Origami drippers and Cafec Abaca filter paper across all coffees.

As for water, we used the same water for all flights, a blend of TONIK [1] and JAMM [2] from Apax Lab, sitting at 100ppm. Although we would ideally use specific water for each coffee, we used one versatile profile across all coffees to enhance acidity and create a rounder, richer body in all of them.


Espresso bar


For espresso, we roasted our coffee in a way that would allow us keep the dose and yield consistent across all three blends:

Milk recipe: 22g of coffee, 38g yield
Black recipe: 21g of coffee, 44g yield.

The extraction time ranged from 28 to 35 seconds, depending on the blend.

We used the new La Marzocco Strada S ABR, paired with a combination of SWAN grinders and Malkhonig E65s GbW. We served only two types of milk for workflow efficiency: full cream gold label from Riverina Fresh and oat milk from Alternative Dairy Co.


For our batch brews:


We used the Breville Precision Brewer with customised settings, including a 45-second bloom for all coffees and a brewing temperature between 90 and 93 degrees.

We used a ratio of 60g of coffee to 1L of water, with the coffee ground on the coarsest EK43 setting. Our water was from Apax lab, a mix of TONIK [1] and JAMM [2] at 100ppm.


For cupping:


We used the new Swirl cup from Sttoke, created by World Cup Tasters Champion Young Baek and designed specifically for cupping. These cups are stackable, light, indestructible, and easy to wash. They also kept the coffees warm for an extended period, which was ideal for large cuppings with numerous attendees.

Our water was supplied by Pentair, using an RO demineralised base, remineralised with their 4CM cartridge that adds Magnesium Carbonate and Calcium Carbonate to the water, at 100ppm. We found this setup worked well with our entire range of coffees.

You can learn more about our protocols for espresso, batch and cupping at zestcoffee.com/news.


Au revoir, for now


Now, as we wrap up MICE 2024, we extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who visited, participated, and shared in the coffee passion that fuels us. This year’s expo was not just a celebration of coffee but also of community and innovation. Here’s to more years of brewing excellence and shared moments over great cups of coffee. Until next year, keep the coffee flowing and your spirits high!