World barista champion Sasa Sestic from Canberra after his win in Seattle.
World barista champion Sasa Sestic from Canberra after his win in Seattle. Photo: Supplied

Canberra's Sasa Sestic is the world's best barista.

The founder of ONA Coffee took out the title at the World Barista Championships in Seattle on Monday morning Australian time after a thrilling run to the finals.

Just a few weeks ago he'd been crowned the Australian barista champion in Melbourne.

Sasa Sestic at the Australian Barista Championships.
Sasa Sestic at the Australian Barista Championships. Photo: Supplied

Top baristas from more than 50 countries competed in the championships over the weekend, each preparing four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature drinks in just 15 minutes for the judges. 

And Sestic's signature coffee was quintessentially Canberran - it contained a splash of Clonakilla shiraz viognier juice which he ferried to the United States as part of his championship kit.

Clonakilla chief winemaker Tim Kirk said Sestic had approached him immediately after winning the Australian Barista Championships to see if he could create a signature drink that contained something from the much lauded winery.

Canberra barista Sasa Sastic with wife Betty and the World Barista championship title.
Canberra barista Sasa Sastic with wife Betty and the World Barista championship title. Photo: Jeff Hann

Kirk had originally suggested using muscat grapes for their distinctive flavour but when they walked past a vat of macerating shiraz viognier grapes, Sestic took some of the juice and found that it worked beautifully in his coffee.

Sestic had been training full time for the world championships, working with a network of fellow champion baristas, including last year's winner Hidenori Izaki of Japan.

It's been an amazing journey for Sestic, a former Olympic handball athlete, who set up ONA Coffee in Fyshwick and then grew the business to include a Manuka shop and the popular Cupping Room in Civic. He also founded Project Origin which works with producers and coops. 

Ed Prentice, a staff member at the Ona Coffee House in Fyshwick, said everyone at the store had enormous respect for Sestic and were thrilled with his win.

"The atmosphere was great here and when he won you couldn't hear anything in the shop because it was just cheering and screaming," he said.

Canberra barista Sasa Sastic raises the trophy
Canberra barista Sasa Sastic raises the trophy Photo: Jeff Hann of Jeraff.

"We are all really excited for him as our boss and it's a really big thing. We had a phone set up with live video on the coffee machine and then another in the kitchen and one out in the roastery too."

Prentice said staff felt involved in Sestic's victory as they had seen him diligently preparing for many years.

"He's been working on this for about two years now and we've all had to sit and watch his run through and do our best to give him tips on how to improve."

Kirk said the win was a testament to Sestic's absolute dedication to his craft.

"Sasa is someone who is really 100 per cent passionate about producing something incredible and he will stop at nothing to produce it," he said.

"What a talent he is, certainly we and all of the Canberra food and wine community are incredibly proud of him."

The Cupping Room's head barista Caity Reynolds said her colleagues were glued to the live video stream of Sestic's performance.

"It's one of the highest honours you can receive as a barista and as the owner of a company that provides coffee to other cafes as well as green beans," she said.

"I wouldn't say that it was a surprise that he won because we have known him to be a great performer for a few years now, although it was definitely exciting."

Reynolds said she hoped the victory would solidify Canberra's reputation as a major player in the coffee industry.  

"It would be great if this led people to start recognising Canberra as one of the coffee capitals of Australia or at the very least a city with an established speciality coffee scene," she said.

Reynolds said Sestic had received "amazing support" from the Australian industry with his roaster Sam Corra and ONA's head training Hugh Kelly cheering him on the sidelines.