M.I.C.E – Melbourne International Coffee Expo Time

I attended the M.I.C.E this year – having missed out on the opportunity last year. 2013 was the first year that M.I.C.E was in Melbourne and due to its resounding success it is back in 2014 – and is geared up to be the largest and most dynamic coffee event for the coffee industry in the Australasian region.

M.I.C.E is dedicated four day event which showcases 150 exhibitors – the list of exhibitors can be found here at http://internationalcoffeeexpo.com/visitors/exhibitors – and will showcase business leaders coming together to educate, inform, network and do business. Here, the World Latte Art, World Coffee in Good Spirits and World Cup Tasters Championships in conjunction with the AASCA coffee championships, including the prestigious Australian Barista Championship, amongst other events will be hosted.

The aim of the event is to showcase Melbourne’s specialty coffee scene and further cement the ever growing reputation as one of the best in the world. It also serves as a great networking opportunity to meet some of the world’s top coffee industry personnel, as well as testing out some great tasting coffee!

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The entrance at MICE 2014 – Love the lighting and styling

mice 2Top Left Clockwise: Code Black Latte, Code Black Baristas at work, Teapigs Tea Variety, Teapigs Tea Tasting.

Code Black Coffee is one of my favourite coffees so I couldn’t walk past their stand and not try their coffee. The coffee was delicious as always – creamy, nutty and just perfect!

Teapigs was founded in 2006 by Nick and Louise – and aim to source the best quality tea. They also participate in a great ethical scheme, where they have made a pledge to directly help the communities they work with. Their motto is “We believe in something pure and simple – no airs. no graces. just fine tea.” They have really interesting flavours such as Liquorice and Mint, Popcorn Tea, Chocolate Flake Tea and Chilli Chai – just to name a few. I tried the Liquorice and Mint – I am not usually a fan of liquorice but the flavour here was quite light and the mint flavour was the stronger of the two. This is one of their most popular flavours I was told. It was nice, but I found the mint a bit over powering. I also tried the Mao Feng Green Tea which I found quite light and delicate and really enjoyed this tea. Another tea I tried was the Winter Spiced Tea – which was also very delicious and homely. You can find out more information about Teapigs at their website http://www.teapigs.com/

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St Ali’s pop-up stall was labelled as a “Silent Disco Beans” party and the highlight – along with the coffee was the acrobatics that were on show!

Equal sweetener also had a cute vintage-esque stall – where they had iced lemon tea which had been sweetened using Equal.

Adore Coffee – I loved the setup – with its quaint and funky lights together with its wooden fitout. The coffee was strong with nutty undertones. For more information refer to their website at http://www.coffeegalleria.com.au/

 

Pranna Chai  Pranna Chai Tea LeavesI am a hugeeee Chai fan – so had to trial some from Pranna Chai. The flavours were fresh, vibrant and fragrant all at the same time – definitely a really great chai! The process that Pranna Chai uses is natural and simple – they source fresh whole spices from different parts around the world such as India, Sri Lanka and Guatemala. They then blend these spices with tea and honey – all done by hand! And voila the end result is born. There are no hidden additives or preservatives added which is another great reason to check them out! In the pictures above you can see the tea and spice mixture – the smell is amazing! You can find out more information at their website at https://www.pranachai.com/

3D Printing
3D Printed Cup
I am really intrigued in the new 3D printing technology and was excited to see it previewed here at MICE. The machine was making a coffee cup.  As you can see from the first picture – the cup being created doesn’t yet fully resemble the perfection of the cup in the picture below – but this must mean that the wandering hands of the patrons got to the machine. The finished cup really is quite strong and thick – to house the warm liquids be it tea or coffee – and I cant wait to see more of these 3D objects in the future.

If you love coffee and want to try out many different varieties then I highly recommend that you visit when it comes back to Melbourne in 2015. You will thoroughly enjoy, as well as experiencing different types and tastes of coffee and tea.

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Natvia and Cupcake Central Workshop – 100% Natural Sweetner

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Natvia was founded after the realisation there was a gap in the market for a 100% natural sweetener. Founded in 2008 by Mark and Sam, and having gone through over 600 trials and 10 months of work they finally reached the perfect blend and taste combination.

Natvia uses the very best parts of the Stevia plant, combined with naturally occurring nectar known as Erythritol. Stevia is a sweet leafed plant which is part of the Chrysanthemum family.

Both Mark and Sam are passionate about the product and you can tell they really do care not only about the product but about the people as well. Some of their core values include educating people about the food and bringing love back to cooking, as well as trying to spark bit of a health revolution. Natvia has 97% fewer calories, contains no Aspartame or saccharin and has nothing artificial – it is all natural with no bitter aftertaste.

The Natvia Icing sugar we were told took around 2 years to make and is a world first! The idea was that the sugar was milled down further which makes it easier to pipe with. Tasty and making life easier – what a great combination!

Another plus point of Natvia is that it can be easily substituted in a 1:1 ratio with sugar. So there is no need for complicated calculations to try and convert measurements.

Natvia can be currently be found in drinking mixes, tomato sauces and in the future thanks to their product innovation could be found in many more products to meet the growing market needs – so keep a lookout for their products. Natvia is available at Coles, Woolworths and Independent Groceries – IGA, Foodworks, Aussie Health, as well in many countries around the world!

If you want copies of the Natvia Sugar Free Baking Recipe Book – feel free to contact me via email (thegrazingpanda@gmail.com) and I can email you a copy. I have PDF versions.

Visit their website for more information – www.natvia.com.au
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I had the pleasure of being invited to a Cupcake Workshop by Natvia who worked in conjunction with Cupcake Central (stores in Melbourne Central, Hawthorn and Highpoint). Cupcake Central now stocks sugar-free cupcakes as part of their range which of course has been sweetened by Natvia.

I was greeted by a Natvia representative who welcomed me to the event, and handed me my very own Natvia apron, Natvia Sugar Free Baking Recipe Book and name tag. There were nibbles and drinks provided, as well Bar-Narnie cupcakes from Cupcake Central. These cupcakes were protein packed and gluten free as well as being sugar-free and actually tasted really good! Healthy and tasty what more could you ask for!

After some time to mingle with fellow bloggers of the world we gathered around the bench for an official welcome from the founders of Natvia – Mark and Sam – and then Sheryl (owner of Cupcake Central) showed us how to create a Not-So-Devilish-Chocolate Cupcake. For the recipe of this cupcake please refer to the bottom of the page.

Sheryl walked us through the process of how they would create their cupcakes in store – they bake over 1000 cupcakes fresh every morning – as well as handing out some handy and useful tips throughout the whole process. Sheryl was really excited to be working with Natvia and the use of this sweetener at Cupcake Central – as she had many customers asking her if there were sugar free cupcakes available.

Each of us also learnt how to put in the cupcake mixture into a cupcake papers in an easier manner – the trick is to use an ice-cream scoop (preferably a size 16). She also showed us a trick on an easy way to separate the cupcake papers when they come all bundled together – you have to slightly wet your index finger with a Chux towel, and using your thumb and your index finger separate the cupcake papers into the tray. Easy!

Once we were through the making of the mixture and putting the mixture into cupcake papers – it was time to get them baked and learn how to use a piping bag and decorate our cupcakes! There were three different piping nozzles – Star Nozzle, French Tip Nozzle and the Wilton 1M Nozzle – to use, and fresh fruit (Strawberries, Banana, Bluberries and Raspberries) as well. It was a lot of fun to get to pipe out our own designs and top them however we wanted.

Before leaving the event, we were given Natvia Goodie bags – which came with a box of Icing Mix, a box of Baking Pack, Cinnamon Splash Cluster Bars, as well as a premix from Cupcake Central for their Not-So-Devilish-Chocolate Cupcakes.

Thanks Natvia for the invite to try out your new products and also to Cupcake Central for teaching us some tricks and tips about baking, icing and piping! I look forward to seeing what other great products Natvia produces as well as the different flavours of cupcakes that Cupcake Central can produce in the Sugar Free range.

Cupcakes I decorated =)

Not-So-Devilish-Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 12 cupcakes)

1 ½ cups Plain Flour

½ cup Cocoa (Cupcake Central uses Callebaut Cocoa) 1 cup Natvia Baking Pack

1 tsp Bicarbonate Soda

¼ tsp Salt

2 Large Free Range Eggs (59 grams)

½ cup Regular Oil

1 cup Cold Water

2 tsp White Vinegar

1 tsp Vanilla Extract (Cupcake Central uses Neillson Massey Madagascan Vanilla)

  1. Pre heat oven to 165 degrees for a fan forced oven, or 170 degrees for a Gas Oven
  2. Sift all dry ingredients directly into mixing bowl
  3. Add to dry mixture, the free range eggs (TIP: Add one egg yolk at a time to create a smoother mixture as you are allowing for the enzymes to break down in order to aerate the mixture) Oil, Water, Vinegar (TIP: When mixed together with the bicarbonate soda will help the cupcake rise) and Vanilla Extract. Beat by hand until smooth (If you are using a automatic hand beater – start off on low speed and then blitz for 30 seconds on medium to high speed)
  4. Fill cupcake papers with batter TIP: Use an ice cream scoop (size 16) to fill the cupcake papers
  5. Bake for 18-21 minutes (or until a cake skewer comes out clean)
  6. Decorate with Icing and ENJOY!

VANILLA FROSTING (for 12 cupcakes)

125 grams Unsalted NZ Butter

225grams of Natvia Icing Mix

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Salt

  1. Add Icing Mix to Butter and mix for 3 – 5 mins until light and fluffy
  2. Add the Vanilla Extract and a Pinch of salt and mix again
  3. Put into piping and you are ready to ice your cupcakes!

 

Other TIPS and FACTS: 

–           If you are using an automatic mixer – use the paddle attachment

–           Using oil will keep the moisture in the cupcake

–          Mixing and adding all your dry ingredients first will help you to avoid over mixing the product, and therefore will result in less dense cupcakes

–          Whenever you use Bicarbonate Soda – you always need to mix it with something acidic – i.e. cocoa or vinegar

–          If your resulting cupcake mixture is runnier than a normal cupcake batter they will come out fluffier

–          Occasionally when mixing, scrape down the mixture to ensure all the ingredients are being mixed evenly