Melbourne Show Grounds, May 21 & 22
This here coffee bash seems to present the same unknowns as the recent National Vegetable Expo.
Will it offer enough to entertain and enlighten?
I love my java, but get by with bargain-priced vacuum-packed product at home and generally have two cafe lattes while out and about during the day – quite different from the six-plus cups of a decade ago.
Certainly I’m not a paid-up member of the coffee cult and have little interest in the likes of single-estate beans and so on.
Pondering these unknowns, I realise that one of the links I have for the exhibition lists Sunday as being “trade only”. A quick phone call to one of the organisers fixes that up – yes, I am quite welcome.
I figure it’s a good thing, too, that I am destined for a night shift starting at 4pm. Caffeinated is the way to go!
As with the vegetable show, many of the exhibitors are concerned with packaging and other paraphernalia.
The lovely crew from hookTURN are having a swell time talking up their gorgeous silicon and reusable coffee containers:
Several stallholders are spruiking far out custom-made coffee tampers:
Greg Pullman from Pullman Espresso Accessories tells me tampers are crucial, with the feel and weight of the tampers in the hand, and their fit, all important.
My first coffee is made for me by Danny Zamprogno of Boema coffee machines and accessories. He tells me the event is definitely good for business.
I also indulge in a Turkish coffee – very different from my usual intake – with a piece of Turkish delight on the side.
There are, of course, plenty of other sweet treats to be had:
The lads from Big Harvest are pitching their ready-made salads and other goodies, which they tell me are ideal for the ubiquitous hole-in-the-wall joints that lack the facilities for largescale food preparation.
The crew from Bonsoy admit, somewhat ruefully, that talking up their products in the midst of so many caffeine crazies is an uphill task … but they’re having a fine time giving it a crack.
Some exhibitors take a strictly scientific, molecular approach to coffee:
There’s even a stall for a job agency specifically focussed on the coffee industry:
As if folks aren’t wired up enough, the sound system is pumping out the likes of Eye Of The Tiger, Street Fighting Man and Whip It.
The coffee lover and sports fan in me combine as I become engrossed in a barista showdown between teams from South Australia and Western Australia.
It’s very intense.
Teams must produce 30 brews of widely varying kinds in 20 minutes.
The judges base their assessments on temperature, taste and latte art, using poker chips to denote their ratings.
My thanks to Victorian team captain Erin Sampson, who works for Veneziano Coffee, for explaining the competition to me. She is Australia’s most awarded female barista.
Thanks, too, for the ace “Vic State Of Origin Barista” T-shirt. I’ll wear it with pride.
End result after two hours? Some fine coffee and encounters with some very interesting and passionate people.
On departing, it seems weird and not a little wonderful to be strolling back to my car amid deserted territory that I am so used to traipsing amid show hordes.