The coffee extravaganza of MICE 2015 is over and done, and as life returns to normal, we just want to say thanks to all those who came and celebrated with us at our annual Brews ‘n’ Bats party. As the sun set on the first day of the MICE trade show, the brats hit the coals and competitors limbered up for ping pong glory and extraction craziness. For the third year running, we pushed the desks back, pulled up the roller doors and wheeled out the BBQs to welcome our friends and peers into our Barista Academy site in West Melbourne.

The ground floor saw a cracking spread of house smoked bratwursts and coal barbecued pork put on by our friends at Young Uncles. Complementing this meaty deliciousness werea range of tasty cold bevvies from Feral Brewery on the West coast — I particularly enjoyed the Smoked Porter! Much love should go to Feral, as all proceeds from beer sales went to support the Nahni Kali project in India: the $750 raised will send nine girl children to school for another year? loving that!

Up on level 1, our brew bar had been converted into a throwdown zone featuring the brand new SP9 (aka the previous Faze9/Splurty) from Marco, with competitors facing off for an incredible prize pool. Going head to head, each of the Brews competitors picked a random brewing variable that would was then locked in — whether it be temperature, grind size or water volume. They then have to manipulate all other variables to present the most delicious coffee possible. With the clock ticking, our honourable judge, Paul Stack from Marco, whittled down the contenders until the final champion, Fidel from Hobba Coffee, emerged with the top brew. He wound up taking home a Marco Bru batch brewer, Baratza Forte grinder, an Acaia scale and a year’s subscription to stellar publication Barista Magazine. From up at the pointy end of the country (Caffiend in Cairns), close runner up Ollie scooped up a Baratza Preciso grinder and an Acaia scale. A huge thanks to our sponsors at Marco, Baratza, Acaia and Barista Magazine for helping us put such an epic loot pack together — Champions!

Top floor of the Academy hosted a fast and furious ping pong battle. With over forty competitors in singles and doubles, the rubber sizzled and balls spun across four competition tables. Ping pong tends to bring out the best and worst in people: we saw mild mannered individuals roll out some of the most inventive smack talk while others were very gracious as they utterly and completely destroyed their opponents. Turns out there’s a strong correlation with winning and levels of graciousness! With competitors stepping forward for glory and prizes, the competition was intense. Sorting the chaff from the wheat, two of our roasting team, Shaun and Jordy, emerged victorious to take champion and runner up spots respectively showing another strong correlation between delicious coffee and mad ping pong skillz. On the dangerous duo side, Steve and Matt of Napier Young and Co took out the top honours. Champions and runners up alike scored some great prizes, taking home a range of sweet Baratza grinders, Acaia scales, Table Tennis Australia bats and, in the case of singles champ Shaun, a bad ass Hurling stick from the folks at Marco! If you’re not familiar with this most Irish of games, check this out.

As the throwdowns wrapped up and the coals cooled in the pit, we shared a last bevvie with our friends and family of the coffee world. Thanks once again to all who came to celebrate with us and our sponsors for helping make such a fun night — we look forward to seeing you again next year!

© Photos provided with permission by Emily Bartlett. All rights reserved by photographer

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