Thursday, 6 June 2013

Melbourne International Coffee Expo 2013

    To commence the immersion into a caffeinated paradise, one had to slide snail style along Racecourse Road behind the thousands looking towards an entire complex of dedication to coffee and the nerdy aspects that make the beans work. Melbourne Showgrounds catered again for the largest Coffee Expo Australia has ever seen. More than 10,000 sets of feet trundled through the pavilion over the four days. Hosting international professionals for both the stage and stalls, one's pallet was not the only sense that was stimulated. The most advanced of roasting, extraction, packaging design and equipment gleamed in every direction. The wafts of coffee grounds for pour over, chemex, cold drip, espresso and traditional cupping channelled between the sharp panes of Slayers, La Marzocco's, Spirits, Probate, Probatones, Dietrich...

Beautiful aromatics and texture of beans from remote and intriguing corners of the globe. Varietals and process method took centre stage for cup profile characteristics. Rather than specifically their country of origin, the respect for the varietals of cultivars that shine through is a brilliant relatively new focus. Immaculately graded coffee. Quality and not quantity was everywhere and I was in heaven.  
  Many honey processed, red, yellow and orange bourbons, Colombian, Costas, Centrals and Africans on tables. Light roast styles dominating for the gentle infusion of the pour overs, rather than extracting methods. Also the tendency of the coffees performing best under such conditions. To have a darker espresso roast running through my fingers was few and far between. Lots of light, dense little beans.

Within a two day visit espresso, piccolos and filter tastings glided from cup to lips in a repetitious fashion. Stop one near to the entrance was Campos Coffee. Cupped Colombian El Manana COE # 9, Fazenda Sera Do Sao bento COE # 2, Kenyan Tchakakhani AA and a Roberto Achieve micro lot. The stand out Kenyan had a fragrance of mangoes. The greener mango tannin giving the cup a amiable dryness. Stronger body than acidity.
Wonderful enthusiasm around the table by the Campos team. Interactive, breaking down the shyness of those first time Cuppers. Sleek black packaging with clear imagery of farming and animals relative to the origin of the packaged beans.

Ducale saw the outlet to shed prolific coffee jitters. The DC Tunes chimed over the burring and steaming of machinery. People sampled the award winning 'Origin', the 'Monsoon' and 'Reale' blends. A big chocolaty, stone fruit sweet blend 'B-Side' linked with the support of the company's DC Tunes program. Part of the coffee sales wriggle their way into the appreciated bands that play for the Ducale beats program. Sharing and caring team of guys lifting the spirit further in the center of the Expo.

Brew Bar Single Origins - Whisked past this eye catching elongated brew bar stall to grasp a chemex of an Ardi Sidamo Guji Ethiopian, Natural Heirloom. Juicy cranberry. Preserved lemon, tight acidity left a bouncy reminder of the brew for moments after. Fighting for a gap in the cluster of listeners to an informative introduction to the coffee's home paddock. The farmer himself gave details of the reality of the growth and harvest and the conditions for the Graders responsible for the clean screen sizes, uniformity and lack of damaged and quakers. The hours poured over these seeds are fundamental for each stage after. The women (most commonly) deserve this acknowledgement for the tediousness of this crucial step. I have never liked my long black quaker ridden...

Single Origin Roasters, an awesome team from Sydney and in addition, Q/R Grader Andrew Hetzel representing CQI, Coffee Quality Institute. It wasn't espresso so much I was tasting here - but a fascinating exercise involving varying concentrations of several acids that occur in coffee throughout its roasting and extracting life. Mr Hetzel ran the informative quest to mimic an exercise one would be required to master if sitting a Q Grade Exam. Citric, Malic, Acetic, Phosphoric and tartaric acids were dribbled in sample cups of filtered coffee, for a wee tastebud challenge. Discussion of the influence of each acid in the mouth and circumstances where the each would be most prominent in the application world. Incredibly informative hour that has aided me in some roasting queries crossed whilst on the job. Wendy De Jong wonderfully assisted the exercise. Her 25 years of experience in coffee oozed onto the table to aid our clambering minds. Many of us eager to pick up the knowledge spilled.
       The 'Yee ha' espresso blend I packed in my bag for home. I have been chipping away at the beautiful medium roast through Nakeds at work. Rich, creamy caramel cup. Acid is mellow, but balanced. Toasty peanuts and raw sugar.
The Burundi I tasted on my heels out of the bustling stall was extracted well. Not a memorable cup for me - owed to the time of day where the tastebuds were wanting their cue to knock off with a beer and not another stimulant...

Market Lane Coffee, Mecca Espresso, Reuben Hills and Seven Seeds shared a stall at MICE. A short mac of the Reubin Hills Espresso blend was a great punchy experience. Grated cocoa texture that was silkened by the milk. The Colombians in this blend fervently tasteful. Groovy stand. The crew working the machines very cool and loving it.

Proud Mary and Latorre and Dutch magnified their stand for another year. The baby blue of espresso ceramic cups bobbed up and down around the brew/espresso bar as portafilters tapped clean and steam arms purged. The interludes of silence from the bar perpendicular were the sounds of gentle pour overs blooming and dribbling juice. No need to ask for a sample - you were handed samples like medication in a nursing home. The difference being a brigade of tasters with no resistance to sample these beautiful drugs. El Salvador's - honey processed, orange bourbon, a dryer cup than the neighbouring washed red bourbon. Tight and raspberry like. Same farm, El Mazano, but varied flavour profile due to their varietal, not origin location. Matt shared his experience with some honey processed coffee in Bali, reminiscing of the slimy mucilage feel of the parchment before drying.
When the information of the extraction and infusion from the Barista and Roaster angle began to consume you, several feet away Andres Latorre Canon could waltz you through a table of magnificent samples to cup. Tastes of crops to come to Australia. Outstanding Gieshas, Costa Rica and El Salvs. The Panama Giesha 'Hartmann' honey had the most distinct stewed apricot aromatics and flavour. The lively fizz alike to Fanta as Andres described. Patiently stepping through the evolution of change in the flavour profiles as the amber liquids cooled, this Panama and a Costa Rica 'Sanora' Villa Lobos shone as favorites. The table of 'El Manzano' El Salvadors bourbons, Costas and honey and natural Panamas were superior. Charged to see these gems being pampered in the roasting equipment in the near future.

 The Melbourne International Coffee Expo wasn't just another gathering of caffeined coffee professionals out to buy and sell and show and see. It was very much a stage for everyone to put their best toes forward in a huge Industry where pride plays a main character. Pride without arrogance or greed is a wonderfully powerful thing.
The exhibitors and industry enthusiasts shared and exchanged valuable knowledge that is better spread than kept for only a few to boast. It was very nice to feel on an equally passionate field as most at M.I.C.E 2013.

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