World Champion Barista – coffee king!
Sasa moved to Canberra from Serbia in 1997 and, in 2001, he completed an Advanced Diploma in Hospitality at the CIT Reid campus. After he completed his studies, Sasa found he had a strong passion for coffee which was at a time when Canberra did not have a wide offering of specialty coffee roasters or cafés serving high quality coffee. It was challenging to learn the trade and find people who, not only had the potential to be a talented roaster/maker/server of coffee, but who shared a similar passion for coffee.
Sasa opened his first café in Manuka where the community quickly accepted him as the “coffee man”. In 2008, Sasa made the decision to start roasting his own coffee. He purchased a 10kg coffee roaster and installed it in his garage. And the Ona Coffee brand was born. Ona Coffee has experienced rapid growth since its inception, with Sasa having to relocate his roasting and wholesale business to larger premises five times.
In 2011, Sasa opened the Ona Coffee House with his business partner and manager, Danny Moreno.
Sasa’s hard work and success have enabled him to travel to over 20 countries, in the last four years, to source coffee directly from over 80 different farms. In his travels, he realised he wanted to help the less fortunate farmers he was sourcing his coffee from. And so he started Project Origin. Project Origin is a green bean buying business working closely with producers to help them improve their crop. Once the coffee reaches a required level of quality, Sasa offers them better prices for the beans (which is a minimum 20% more than Fairtade).
His latest venture is The Cupping Room in Canberra’s CBD. Sasa and his team have spent a lot of time planning The Cupping Room to ensure they deliver not only great coffee and food to customers, but also a unique vibe. It was important that they offer the full sensory experience and use this space to push boundaries on how coffee should be served and taste.
In 2015, Sasa won the Australian Barista Championships in Melbourne and went on to win the World Barista Championships in Seattle.
Watch Sasa here