If red wine and coffee are two of your favourite food groups, Canberra barista Sasa Sestic has the perfect drink.
Sestic, who founded ONA Coffee in Canberra, was named the world’s best barista at the World Barista Championships, held in Seattle over the weekend, beating the best coffee makers from around the world, with the US in second place, followed by Canada, Hong Kong, the UK and France in sixth place.
It’s Australia’s first title since Paul Bassett’s win in 2003, although local baristas regularly finish in the top six.
To win, Sestic had to make 12 coffees in 15 minutes: espressos, cappuccinos and his signature coffee, which used juice from one of Australia’s most highly prized wines: Clonakilla’s shiraz viognier, just before it began to ferment.
Coffee often has wine-like flavours and the idea came about after Sestic became the Australian barista champion last month, and approached Clonakilla’s Tim Kirk, Canberra’s greatest winemaker, about using something from the winery.
“I was reading about Sasa’s win in the national championships in the paper when the phone rang and it was him and he said ‘I’ve got this idea’,” Kirk said.
Sestic wanted something aromatic and Kirk thought muscat grapes, which were ripe and ready at the time, when they wanted past the shiraz-viognier, which had been in vats for a couple of days for a pre-ferment maceration to maximise the flavour.
“The juice was just extraordinary and Sasa took some of that and was working on it for a week or so, day and night,” Kirk said.
The barista headed to Seattle before the winemaker had a chance to taste the final combination, but the Clonakilla boss has no doubt it helped seal the win.
“We’re very proud of him,” Kirk said. “He’s a very passionate guy.”
It’s not the first time Sestic, who was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has appeared on the world stage. He was just 21 when he represented Australia in handball at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
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