Canberra coffee lovers flock to ONA, Cupping Room after Sasa Sestic's World Barista Championship win

Sophie Briedis delivers a coffee at Ona coffee shop in Fyshwick. Ona offered customers limited cups of Sestic's ...
Sophie Briedis delivers a coffee at Ona coffee shop in Fyshwick. Ona offered customers limited cups of Sestic's award-winning signature brew on Wednesday. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The newly crowned king of coffee, world champion barista Sasa Sestic, is exhausted after the high-stakes competition in the US.

Speaking to The Canberra Times from Seattle before flying home, Sestic said he was thrilled about the win but had been forced to hold off from celebrating while he fought off a nasty chest infection.

"I was on antibiotics from my second day in Seattle," he said. "I was really sick so I could not really celebrate as much as I would have liked to, but hopefully there will be very big celebrations back in Australia."

Ona barista Justin Stringer pours a coffee on Wednesday. The store is owned by Sasa Sestic who recently won the World ...
Ona barista Justin Stringer pours a coffee on Wednesday. The store is owned by Sasa Sestic who recently won the World Barista Chamionship. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Wrestling high temperatures and fevers in the lead up to the final, he was concerned being off-colour might have affected his palate.

"Friday my palate was very good but on Saturday I couldn't taste anything," he said.

If it weren't for his strong team of six providing precise tasting notes, he said he wouldn't have made it through.

Canberra barista Sasa Sastic with Hidenori Maruyama, the previous world barista champion and Sasa's coach for the ...
Canberra barista Sasa Sastic with Hidenori Maruyama, the previous world barista champion and Sasa's coach for the competition. Photo: Jeff Hann

Whether it was his bold beans, his passion for the pour, or his artful enhancement of espresso flavours that led to the win, Sestic said he hoped it would inspire further expansion of the Canberra coffee culture. 

"Canberra is a small city but it is developing and there are a lot of passionate people behind the coffee shops that are proud of what they are doing," he said. 

"It's up to our baristas to communicate what's amazing about specialty coffees with consumers." 

Canberra coffee lovers have flocked to cafes founded by Sestic as news of his win sent ripples through his home city. 

ONA Coffee in Fyshwick offered a specially-brewed treat for customers who flooded the Wollongong Street cafe on Tuesday.

The store was offering limited cups of Sestic's award-winning signature brew, which contains a splash of Clonakilla shiraz viognier juice.

Canberra barista Sasa Sastic wins the 2015 World Barista championship title in Seattle. Sastic battled an infection ...
Canberra barista Sasa Sastic wins the 2015 World Barista championship title in Seattle. Sastic battled an infection during the competition. Photo: Jeff Hann of Jeraff.

Head barista Justin Stringer said Tuesday's customers were lucky enough to try a cup of the championship milk coffee, which would normally cost more than $200 a kilogram, for the price of a regular flat white or latte. 

The special few kilos of beans sold out amid rave reviews.

"We've had nothing but good feedback," he said.

Sasa Sestic, who has founded several coffee houses around Canberra, is officially the world's best barista.
Sasa Sestic, who has founded several coffee houses around Canberra, is officially the world's best barista. Photo: Jay Cronan

"You can taste things in this coffee you would never expect, you can taste raspberries and blueberries. It's rich in flavour without being bitter."

Mr Stringer's staff had been kept on their toes as peak foot traffic saw customers lined up out the door.

"Since the doors opened [on Tuesday] we've been a whole other kind of busy," he said.

"We've had a lot of people talking and asking questions about Sasa's win and congratulating him even though he's not back yet."

Mr Stringer expected Mr Sestic's win to have an effect throughout Canberra and beyond and raise the locally-brewed coffee bar.

"You hear about places like Melbourne but people are becoming used to the idea the new mecca is here," he said.

Since Mr Sestic set up ONA Coffee in Fyshwick the former Olympic handball athlete has grown the business to include a Manuka shop and the popular Cupping Room in Civic. He also founded Project Origin which works with producers and co-ops.

Cupping Room head barista Caity Reynolds said the win had drummed up interest among customers - and given nervous staff members a sigh of relief.

"Quite a few people have been coming in and they're excited - it's been busy this week which might have some correlation," she said.

"Sasa's win is a win for all of us, really - we couldn't be prouder."