active CEO Podcast #47 Sasa Sestic A World Beyond Coffee

A World Beyond Coffee
Sasa Sestic ONA Coffee
World Barista Champion
Project Origin
2000 Sydney Olympics
Sasa Sestic – Founder & Director ONA Coffee

On this
episode of the active CEO Podcast, Craig Johns speaks with Sasa Sestic about escaping
three wars, transitioning from 2000 Sydney Olympic Games Handball player to
entrepreneur, creating ONA Coffee, the powerful impact of Project Origin,
winning the 2015 Barista World Championships and a world beyond coffee. We take
a deep dive into building a team of innovators, creating a competitive
environment, chasing excellence, collaborating with winemaker Tim Kirk from
Clonakilla, The Coffee Man movie and book, and the realization that coffee was
much more than a social drink.

Sasa Sestic – Podcast Interview Brief

Sasa Sestic is a World
Barista Champion, Olympian, philanthropist and remarkable entrepreneur, who
immigrated to Australia in 1997, from humble beginnings in war-torn Bosnia. He
is considered inspiring, authentically raw and a fun entrepreneur to work with,
who authored the award-winning book The Coffee Man. His outstanding sporting
ability allowed him to represent Australia in European Handball at the Sydney
2000 Olympics.

While working in a Canberra
bakery he found his true passion and an obsession for not only perfecting the
ultimate cup of coffee, but also finding and roasting the world’s best coffee
beans. He has a heart of gold and his devotion to donate thousands of dollars
to the farmers who produce the coffee beans in places like India, Honduras and
Nicaragua. His love of coffee has led to two Australian and the 2015 World
Barista Championships, as well as owning a range of café’s including The
Cupping room, ONA Coffee House, ONA Manuka and High Road.

Sasa talks about:

  • His dad surviving -15 degree nights to put food on the table.
  • Playing European Handball for Australian at the Sydney Olympics
  • Transitioning from athlete in 2013 to Barista entrepreneur.
  • Working in 3rd world countries to help them develop great coffee, grow there amazing coffees and see that we are doing something good for these communities.
  • The DNA of ONA Coffee which is community driven and family owned
  • A lot of failures; every time we failed it help bring us closer together.
  • People who love coffee, obsess with coffee and want to innovate.
  • Developing innovative coffee processes that are used globally.
  • Collaborating with winemakers Tim Kirk from Clonakilla.
  • O.C.D – ONA Coffee Distribution Tool
  • His first trip to India in 2011 changed the way he approached coffee.
  • Going deep into the Amazon Forest to search for the coffee bean DNA.
  • The story behind The Coffee Man movie.
  • Introducing consuming countries with the farming countries.
  • The future expansion of ONA Coffee.
  • Flying to Switzerland to understand the science of coffee.
  • Wanting to change the way coffees are sold.

CEO Wellness Tip

Talent Is Not Enough – Discipline, hard work and really putting that time into achieving your goals. Talent will only take you so far. What is the plan you are putting into place and implementing to ensure you achieve that performance that you desire?


“Very competitive
environment, very high paced, all high achievers, we all love competition and
the competition gets the best out of us.” Sasa Sestic explains the ONA Coffee
environment, on the active CEO Podcast.

“One of the issues we have is that when we reach these high goals, we
don’t spend enough time celebrating. We just set another higher goal. Trying to
be the best we can be. We want to compete with ourselves.” Wanting to spend more
time celebrating with Sasa Sestic, on the active CEO Podcast.

“2007 is when I realised that coffee can be so much
more than a social drink. So much more than something that tastes reasonably
nice. A lot deeper purpose to being able to serve a great cup of coffee. We can
make the world a little bit better.” Sasa Sestic’s approach to a world beyond coffee, on the active CEO Podcast.

Resources Mentioned in this show:

Sasa Sestic
Sasa Sestic Instagram
ONA Coffee
ONA Coffee Instagram
Project Origin
Craig Johns
Craig Johns LinkedIn

Recommended Reading:

The Coffee Man Book
The Coffee Man Film

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