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Canberra’s coffee guru plans world domination

Emma Macdonald

A global title has now led to a movie, a book and a revolutionary coffee invention. Canberra’s Sasa Sestic has had a busy year.

First, Sasa Sestic set his mind to creating the best coffee for Canberra connoisseurs. Now he has set his sights globally – championing ethical coffee production and inventing a new way to create the best brew.

2016 was a monumental year for Sestic, whose feet have not touched the ground in the wake of winning the 2015 World Barista Championship.

Locally, his ONA coffee empire continues to thrive and expand – most recently he has helped set up GreenHouse in the Canberra Centre.

But this year Canberra cafe enthusiasts have had to share Sestic with an increasingly demanding global fan base as his celebrity and obsession for perfect coffee grows.

In May, Sestic’s biopic film The Coffee Man premiered, showing his bean-chasing capers around Africa and South America and culminating in the extraordinary competition which saw him snatch the world title.

He has also devoted countless hours this year to his not-for-profit ethical coffee sourcing company Project Origin. Sestic has helped raise $300,000 to support small and often subsistence coffee farmers in countries including Honduras and El Salvador – a result which is says gives him extreme pride.

He has almost completed his first book and in his “spare” hours he also invented a new coffee-making appliance – the Ona Coffee Distributor – which is making waves on the barista scene across the globe.

The “OCD” is a patented metal device which takes the place of a tamp in the coffee-making process. It swirls the coffee around in the basket to ensure even distribution of the grinds and a more consistent coffee brew.

More than 9000 of the metal devices (which sell for around $200) have been sold across countries including the US, UK, China, Colombia, Thailand and Taiwan. Sestic says it overcomes one of the greatest issues facing baristas, which is ensuring all coffee grinds are extracted evenly.

“If you use your finger before tamping, which is what a lot of baristas do, not only is in unhygienic, but the grounds are uneven. Some are extracted more than others resulting in not only inconsistent flavour but also negative flavours from over and under extraction in the same basket,” Sestic explains.

“The OCD is a way to enable all people to create a consistent taste, not just the superstar baristas. I see it as making coffee quicker, easier and more accessible.”

But Sestic is also pleased with its reception among those “superstar baristas” – with five out of six finalists in the Australian Barista Championships using an OCD and eight out of 12 in this year’s World Barista competition.

It has also been shortlisted for US-based coffee news site Sprudge’s “best new invention” category.


Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author