March 27, 2015

Baristas can jump!

Many people in the Australian café industry know Sasa Sestic for his great barista skills and his quickly evolving Canberra coffee business, ONA Coffee. Not too many people (myself included until now) know that Sasa was an Australian Olympic handball champion. 

During the 2000 Sydney Olympics, I was employed with an events company that worked directly with ticket sales, and I was lucky enough to have a few tickets to different sporting events come my way.

One of these unique sports was handball, which was not that well known to Australian audiences at the time. I became an instant fan when I watched this high energy sport, and I can still remember the antics of this high jumping Bosnian born player, Sasa Sestic.

Sasa came to Australia from Yugoslavia as a professional sportsperson and was well recognised as an up and coming European handball champion. Along with his brother Dragan, Sasa was chosen for the Australian Olympic team and soon boosted the profile of this dynamic sport among Australians. They had showed some pretty decent results for a new Olympic sport in Australia and frightened many of the well established European countries with their energy and passion.

Sasa recently show some of his Olympic replays, which highlighted his incredible ability with his jump shots – these would have made many AFL professionals jealous.

Sasa now lives in Canberra with his family and runs ONA Coffee. He supplies coffee all over the ACT and is now venturing out into regional NSW, and recently into Queensland with his great coffee blends. His main operation is in Fyshwick, and he has a very strong team supporting him at the Coffee House. The Fyshwick operation has no quiet moments; the café is full from the time the doors are open to closing time. The coffee is exceptional and can be experienced in many brew options – syphon being a team favourite at present. Sasa has concentrated on sourcing high quality coffees, and it is not unusual to see ‘Cup of Excellence’ coffees in the hopper.

I was quite taken aback by the quality of the food being served up for such a reasonable price; no wonder everybody in Canberra is out there fighting for a seat in the café.

Sasa’s competitive sporting nature has been diverted now to barista competitions, and he has achieved good placements in many national barista competitions and jams. He recently won the Danes Grand Barista Championship, held in Bangkok Thailand, the first time the event has been held outside of Australia.

It is nice to know a little more about our Australian coffee people, and Sasa Sestic has shown us this with his exciting previous life as a proud Olympian.

The coffee industry is fast evolving in our nation, and Sasa and his team at ONA Coffee have shown us that good coffee businesses can be created outside of a major city location with a bit of passion and clever teamwork.

Watch out in September, when team ONA Coffee take on the other Australian states in ‘The Da Vinci State of Origins’ at Fine Foods in Sydney.

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