Last year Canberra local Sasa Sestic, former Olympian and founder of Ona coffee, won the 2015 World Barista Championship. Directed by Jeff Hann, The Coffee Man captures Sestic’s quest for the perfect coffee and the lead up to the tournament.
From an early age, Sestic along with his family migrated from war-torn Bosnia to Canberra. After performing for Australia at the 2000 Olympics in handball, Sestic turned his attention to another life obsession – coffee.
In 2014, he asked two filmmaker friends to accompany him on some bean-hunting trips to central America in search of the world’s perfect coffee. None of them knew that it was to be the most important year in Canberra’s coffee scene.
The beginning of the film shows Sestic’s unique love for coffee beans grown in Honduras. It’s there where he buys a farm in order to grow beans and create experiments for the perfect taste.
Through some beautiful animation sequences, Sestic’s daughter best narrates the delicacies of coffee beans and the intricate flavours enhanced by minor details such as weather, seasonal patterns or various growing spots on the equator.
The documentary grows in stature as he is coached by former World Barista Champion Hidenari Azaki from Japan. Azaki harnesses Sestic’s desire to win and eradicates any small faults in his barista game.
He is finally awarded Australia’s Barista Champion on his third consecutive attempt and qualifies for the World Barista Championship in Seattle. The film then leads into a variety of unexpected experiences Sestic and his team from Ona encounter leading up to the championship. Even knowing the outcome, things become very tense.
There are some beautiful foundation shots of Canberra’s scenery as Sestic shows where he grew up, trained for the Olympics and bought his first coffee store. Due to Canberra’s “everyone knows everyone” theory, many locals will recognise some of the faces of the Ona team sent to the championship.
Although even if you don’t know anyone, you’ll likely feel strongly immersed and connected watching a Canberra boy achieve his dream so forcefully. If you’re a lover of anything coffee or anything Canberra, The Coffee Man is absolutely worth a watch!