By James Wells

SYDNEY: After a week of rain, the skies cleared yesterday for the largest coffee event in the Southern Hemisphere – The Rocks Aroma Coffee Festival, which organisers claim attracts over 100,000 people.

Coffee machine manufacturers including major event sponsor Saeco as well as De’Longhi, Sunbeam, Breville, Krups and Gaggia joined several local coffee roasters to promote the category which continues to be the fastest growing small appliance category in Australia.

“This was the second consecutive year Saeco has participated as a major sponsor of the Rocks Aroma Coffee Festival and we very pleased with the overall results of the event," said Saeco national sales manager, Andrew Kremmer.

"The Saeco brand was strongly represented again and interest in our automatic machines ran hot for the bulk of the day. Attention was also drawn towards our Jules and Attione Louis machines which I didn’t find as surprising as some of the comments. After this event, Saeco retailers should anticipate fantastic sell through which has been the case in previous years.”

According to De’Longhi Australia marketing manager, Nigel Cornford, the event was a worthwhile investment for the company.

“It was a great opportunity to interact with the public,” Cornford said.

“Overall we are very happy with the event. It was interesting to notice that there are still new consumers coming into the category, especially as it is becoming more affordable to have a great coffee machine,” Cornford said.

“Several consumers were upgrading their machines to the next generation such as a fully automatic machine like the Magnifica, while other consumers were looking for their first coffee machine.

“We noticed that there is still strong brand loyalty towards the De’Longhi brand and the acceptance of our Nespresso range was also pleasing."

According to Sunbeam marketing manager, Damian Court, the festival was the most successful in recent memory.

“It was a fantastic day with all time record crowds. People were champing at the bit to get in at a quarter to 10, which was 15 minutes before it started.

“And when people did get in, they were four or five deep in a semi-circle for hours. Paul Bassett had a stronger crowd than I can remember which was probably due to the number of products that he now has on the market.

“It was cold enough to drink coffee all day and warm enough to turn up.”

Sunbeam did not sell products from its stand, even though Court said there was a lot of interest from consumers.

“We were not interested in trying to sell on the day. It is a good opportunity to pass on consistent information to consumers without trying to close the sale.

Breville general manager – marketing, Cameron Searle, also exhibited at the event with a display promoting the company’s 800 Class Espresso Machine – 800ES.

“We were very happy with the organisation of the event and believe it was a fantastic opportunity for interested consumers to review competing machine offers,” Searle told