Buvette Masthead

A Night at Casablanca

Tess Parisotto

Last Thursday I went along to The Cupping Room’s ‘Casablanca’ – a special event designed to showcase and celebrate all the things that make coffee and wine so extraordinary.

They called it “a love story bringing coffee & wine together”. This event wasn’t the first of its kind with The Cupping Room having hosted ‘A Coffee Story through Food & Wine’ event last year.

Lucky for us, Sasa Sestic of Ona Coffee (2015 World Barista Champion) and Tim Kirk of Clonakilla Wines (2013 Winemaker of the Year) came together once again this year to showcase their best, and they did not disappoint.

Not only was there an ample supply of delicious coffee and Clonakilla wine, there was also a plentiful bounty of mouth-watering foods to match. It was the wine-matched dinner to end all of wine-matched dinners.I know it sounds a little weird to begin with – coffee and wine together – but in truth they really are a match made in heaven.

They share so many similarities in the way that they are grown and processed, and the flavour profiles and tasting notes of each can be compared and contrasted in a very similar fashion.

To kick off the evening we started some semi-carbonated Cascara, which is kind of like a coffee-tea, made using the skin of the coffee cherries.

Served alongside it was a peach melba with cream cheese, peach sorbet, freeze dried raspberries and salted caramel crumb.


We were also offered a glass of the 2015 Clonakilla Riesling to be paired with a crab benedict – crab and potato mash with chives and hollandaise sauce.

We mingled around nibbling our starters and sipping our drinks, and soon we were ushered inside to really begin the nights proceedings.


We settled into our seats and after a few words from Sasa and Tim, the flood gates literally opened. For each course of food we were given four different glasses of wine and a generous serving at that.

In total we sampled 17 wines by the end of the night (needless to say, everyone very much enjoyed themselves). We also had seven different coffees to taste throughout the course of the dinner.

For the first course we had a Moreton Bay bug served with a tomato, avocado & tarragon salsa. To drink we had four glasses of Viognier, three from the 2015 Vintage and one from 2013, and three different coffees. Each was made using a different processing method. The idea was to highlight just how much processing methods affect how the final product tastes.


Next we had lamb served two ways with lemon verbena, wattle seed, turnip, plums and sprouts. For wine, we had a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2015 Cabernet Franc, a 2015 Merlot and a 2013 Ballinderry.


For coffee, we had an Ethiopian washed process, a Panama Geisha natural process from Katowa Estate and a Castillo varietal from Columbia. The idea behind this tasting was to compare and contrast the distinctly different varietals, and how they taste when blended together.

For our third course we had venison with parsnip, berries and dutch carrots. Instead of four wines, we got five for this course. We sampled four different Shiraz Viogniers – three were 2015 batches and each came from a different lot of the Clonakilla vineyard. The fourth was the award-winning, internationally renowned 2013 Shiraz Viognier, and it is absolutely freakin’ delicious.


The last glass was a 2015 Syrah. This focus for this course was on growing conditions, highlighting how factors such as the weather, the altitude and the soil can heavily impact on how a coffee or wine tastes.

And finally, dessert. Because I’m lactose intolerant, the kitchen very kindly made up a special plate for me – I had pear sorbet with fresh berries, meringue and crushed almonds.


Everyone else enjoyed a yoghurt sorbet with chocolate soil, rum soaked rasins, crushed almonds and candied lemon gel. The drinks for this course were pretty special – Tim opened up his private cellar to bring us three different Muscat’s from 2001, 2006 and 2015. The Clonakilla Muscat’s are never released to the public so he really spoiled us with those. And, my god, they were amazing. Especially the ’06 Muscat; it was to die for!


We also had Sasa’s signature drink from the World Barista Championship. It’s made up of roughly 4 parts espresso and 1 part Clonakilla Shiraz juice (non-alcoholic), blended together with ice. On the first sip we noticed a smooth foamy texture which tasted like stonefruits, and then flavours of raspberry candy and blueberries shone through on the second sip.

Tim describes Sasa’s concoction as “complex and joyful”, and an absolute “triumph”. He says he couldn’t be more proud of Sasa and what he has done with coffee.

“It’s just remarkable” says Tim.

“We’re already making waves throughout the world [with our coffee and wine], and it starts from here in Canberra”

Filled to the brim with pride for my city (and also a truckload of food and wine), I was beaming by the end of the evening.


This dinner showcased amazing food, coffee and wine. But it was also a testament, and even a tribute, to the people behind the operations – from production, to processing, to preparation and service – everyone involved works tirelessly in the pursuit of serving something amazing to its customers, and they do it with passion and pride. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be able to attend.

If you missed out, never fear – the cellar door at Clonakilla is open every day from 10am to 5pm, and there’s an online store too if you can’t make the trip to Murrumbateman.


For your coffee fix, you can head to The Cupping Room in the City, Ona on the Lawns in Manuka, Ona Coffee in Fyshwick, or Espresso Room in Tuggeranong, Woden or Belconnen.

the essentials
Clonakilla Cellar Door
3 Crisps Lane, Murrumbateman NSW
02 6227 5877
Web: clonakilla.com.au

The Cupping Room
1/13 University Ave, Canberra City
02 6257 6412
Web: thecuppingroom.com.au

Ona on the Lawns
4 Palmerston Lane, Manuka
Web: Facebook

Ona Coffee Fyshwick
3/68 Wollongong Avenue, Fyshwick
Web: facebook.com/onacoffee or onacoffee.com.au

ONA Espresso Room
Shop 1, Level 1 Tuggeranong Hyperdome(Opposite Target)
Shop 86, Ground Floor Westfield Woden (Opposite McDonalds)
Shop 333, 1st Floor Westfield Belconnen (Next to Outback Jacks)
Web: espressoroom.com.au


Tess Parisotto

Tess Parisotto is a 21 year old freelance writer and University student currently studying a Bachelor of Writing at the University of Canberra. Born and raised a Canberran, Tess loves her city and being a part of the Canberra community. She has a love for all things local, and is a self-confessed coffee nut, fiercely passionate about coffee and cafe culture in general. Follow @tessparisotto on Instagram for your daily dose of Canberra goodness and other pretty things. More about the Author

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