I still cannot believe that I won World Barista Championships. This is definitely a dream come true.
Some of you might already know me, and others might have read or heard interviews with me since my win in Seattle talking about my past and how I came to be where I am now, So I’d like to dedicate this post to telling you about the amazing people that work with me and have supported me to get to this point.
Let me introduce the 2015 WBC winning team:
I still remember when I started Ona Coffee 8 years ago, I went to my first cupping session in Melbourne and discovered magical flavours in the coffee I tasted. I remember rushing back to Canberra to share this amazing experience with my team, at that time with 15 members. I was really excited and organised everyone to come into our little roastery (garage!) and we started cupping coffees with score sheets.
After we finished most of my staff told me “Sasa, this is a waste of time, next time just tell us how to make the coffee and we’ll do it, but we’re not interested in these cupping sessions”. That same night I invited Sam Corra (a barista at our café at the time) over and I could see immediately he was so excited and happy, just like me I guess!
As everyone else left and me and Sam were cleaning up the cups, I realised one of the biggest lessons I have had to learn, that I need to employ people are like me, people that are obsessed with and passionate about coffee, people that won’t ever stop learning and trying to find out more.
Since that day, Sam progressed so quickly that he became my head roaster after only 6 months! As you know this year he roasted the coffee for both my Australian and World Barista competitions (I guess the results speak for themselves!), some mornings starting at 2am just because he believed that the temperature and humidity at these times was best to roast my competition coffee. I think that ticks both the obsessed and passionate boxes!
6 years ago when I went to train up one of Ona Coffee’s wholesale customers I remember Kelly working there while he was studying at Uni. I randomly mentioned that there was a local barista competition and he immediately said he was interested, but unlike so many other people that also said they would join in, he actually turned up to training in our mini training room, and to me, that gave me a lot of hope.
The following year he won the ACT competition and when he finished university he came on full time at one of Ona’s café’s. I am so proud to say that Kelly is now the head barista trainer at Ona Coffee and a key part of the WBC team that went to Seattle.
Two months before the World Championships Kelly was with me full time (or should I say more like double time as it was usually around 70 hours a week!), and I don’t think either of us had a single day off from training. Kelly managed to make my life so easy during this time, he even managed to sort out the 400kg of luggage we took with us to Seattle!
Kelly is still an amazing competitor in his own right, in the last two years finishing 4th and 5th at the Australian Championships. This man knows my presentation from Seattle as well is myself, and the team was joking in Seattle that is I was too sick to do my presentation that he could do it for me! Look out for him again at next years nationals…
Camilo is the producer and exporter of the coffee I used in both the Australian and World Championships. Even though I was the one to go out on stage and present what we have created together, it’s because of people like Camilo (and there are many more producers I work very closely with) that help give me the energy I need to keep this work going in developing these amazing coffees. What I love about Camilo is that he is always open to new ideas on ways to improve his coffee and at the same time inspire other small producers to try and make their coffee better as well
Well of course I do not need to introduce Hidenori Izaki, I am just so happy that he was my coach. This man, he is my inspiration, but not because he is the World Barista Champion, but because he is an amazing ambassador for our industry. I have not met another person as knowledgeable and yet as humble as Hide.
Hide truly got the best out of me. He worked so hard with me from the beginning of my campaign back in December 2014 at the state competition. He was then with me all the way through the Australian competition and with me for a full week in Seattle at the Worlds. We have spent so much time together on Facebook and Skype and I cannot thank him enough for the effort he has gone to help me so I can be the best prepared I could possibly be for my competitions.
Again, John Gordon no doubt is no stranger to you. This man has also been involved in my competition since it started back in December. We have spent so much time together working on the Sanremo Opera machine during 2014, but he was always happy to spend as much time as I wanted to discuss and fine tune my performance. And of course, I couldn’t have won in Seattle without Slim John!
Last but not least my amazing wife Beti
Not only is she amazing, but she is so patient with me. For the last four months not only was she mother andfather to our gorgeous kids Ana and Aleks, but she also had to look after my business activities while I was training. Thank you Beti, I could never have done this without you.
So that’s the team! While I might have been the lucky one to stand up in front of the judges and amazing supporters (I couldn’t believe how many Aussies there were in the audience in Seattle!) and get to lift the trophy, I could never have done it without the support of my team. Thank you (and all the other people that supported me throughout my competitions) for supporting me and giving me what I needed to become the World Barista Champion! What a dream come true!