Giesen Coffee Roasters interviews Sasa Sestic: ‘The Coffee Man’
If authenticity and craftmanship play a big role in something, it’s in the art of roasting coffee. Sasa Sestic is the man who has mastered this art. Winning the World Barista Championship in 2015, he has proven just that. We at Giesen Coffee Roasters decided to get to know him better.
His passion only didn’t start because he liked coffee so much, which has been the case with other professionals. “I fell in love with coffee initially because I love how a cup of coffee is able to connect so many people in who otherwise don’t have anything in common. I really enjoyed being part of that connection. Eventually, when I started discovering different flavour profiles, this inspiration took me to start traveling through the world and start sourcing green beans.”
Sasa started roasting because he got inspired while seeing Scottie Callaghan compete at the New South Whales Barista Championship. “At the time I did not know anything about coffee – I didn’t even know the difference between washed and natural process, nor differences between varietals. I just knew that I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could about coffee. So, I started buying different green beans, experimenting with roast profiles, tasting, brewing and sharing ideas and tasting notes with people around me.”
Sasa’s preferences are continuously changing as he is trying to discover new coffees and new ways to make coffee. This has led him to experiment with combining the flavour of coffee and wine. Both wine and coffee are extremely complex beverages but have a lot of similar flavour profiles. He thought “What happens when I combine wine and coffee?” and after tasting different grape varietals, he found the perfect match.
In his book, Sasa wrote he began roasting on one of the cheapest 10 kg roasters he could find. He tried a lot of different roasters and enjoyed trying to identify the preferences of people across the world. He ending up using a Giesen coffee roaster. His reason? “We decided to use a Giesen because the technology employed by their machines is always advancing. I am particularly happy with the shape of the drum, style and heat retention. The Giesen team is always happy to take feedback from industry professionals and apply newly developed technology in order to keep advancing and building better roasters.”
Ona Coffee currently has four different types of Giesen coffee roasters. One for each occasion. The coffee that was used in the World Barista Championship 2015 was also roasted on a Giesen. The key is consistency. Sasa: “With the way we prefer to roast our coffee, we want to be able to control our highlights and especially the balance during roasting. Giesen roasters allow us to do that consistently, which is why we will still be using these roasters in the future.”
The Coffee Man
His experiences about coffee are written in his book: The Coffee Man. The proceedings that come from this book he donates to help people. “The first $40,000 in proceedings will go towards aiding coffee communities in Nicaragua, where we are supporting a coffee school in Ocotal with equipment and the means to be able to run more classes and be more sustainable.”
He is also planning to build a bridge for a small community in Guji, Ethiopia. “Our overall aim is to help small producers with processing and infrastructure, so that they are able to get better value out of their coffee and receive greater prices, so that we can enjoy better coffees while they enjoy better lives.”
Sasa has another cause which he gives his all; Project Origin. Through this company he organises auction events to benefit farmers, as well as donating money and services to various projects to help coffee-communities. The reason why he is so passionate comes back from his childhood. “I think that this has a lot do with my family experiences in Yugoslavia during the war. I guess that when we go through tough moments in our lives we do not ever forget them and we hope that it will never occur again. And importantly, I guess that when we have bad experiences we understand how they can affect peoples’ lives and we hope that these experiences don’t occur to those we care about.” he explains.
“It is important that we share the stories and efforts of these people at origin. I am very thankful to companies such as Giesen, Sanremo and BWT for their support, as well to all the members of the public who contributed on Kickstarter in 2017 to help fund the publication of my book, The Coffee Man and make it a reality.”