REVIEW: The Coffee Man

What better way to jumpstart this page than to talk about passion – passion for coffee, that is! After all, that same passion gave birth to this site. For behind every meticulously picked bean, IG-worthy latte art, enticing aroma and soul-healing effect, are passionate people living for perfecting your favorite cup.

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On June 25, Sanremo Philippines, producer of innovative and quality coffee machines, hosted a special screening of the documentary film, “The Coffee Man,” at the Powerplant Mall Cinema 5. Making the whole experience more apt, they served various mixes of coffee (our fave being the Caramel Shortbread Latte) along with brownies and ensaymada. Well, there was also popcorn but we were not up for such combination.

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The film follows the journey of Sasa Sestic to the 2015 World Barista Championships (WBC). Sasa, a Bosnian native who left his war-torn country for an uncertain future in Australia in 1996, has shown great energy and creativity, verging on trouble-making, since he was a child. Channeling these traits to the sport handball, he created a new life for his family in their adoptive home and even played for the Australian national team during the 2000 Summer Olympics. It was his retirement from professional handball, however, that led him to his accidental yet steadfast love for coffee.

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Being the risk-taker that he is, he put up his own bakery and, from the disappointment that was his espresso bar, started his pursuit of excellence in coffee-making. From picking beans in Ethiopia, buying a farm in Honduras, cupping-critiquing in Canberra, witnessing the revolutionary carbonic maceration in Colombia, to finally creating his own blend, Sasa showed what commitment means – going through the farm-to-cup process with unrelenting desire amidst the rollercoaster ride. And believing that his producers, not just his coffee, deserve to be known, he decided to join Australian Barista Championship in 2009. He failed in his first attempt and tasted loss for the next five years. Yet, year after year, he came around fueled by his great cause until he finally bagged the title in 2015. His supportive family and dedicated team have always been behind him but it was during this time that he actually let them help in the competition. And, of course, there was also the coaching of 2014 WBC winner Hidenori Izaki.

The preparation for the 2015 WBC in Seattle must be the most excruciating part of Sasa’s journey – from keeping the plums well-fermented, calling in a milk mule, to enduring severe bronchitis while doing his routine. Yet, dedication and perseverance are a passionate person’s way of life. So Sasa faked his wellness until he made it into the finals. From the very beginning, we already know he is going to win. But as his story unfolded, we cannot help but feel the anticipation Sasa and his coffee family must have felt and the thrilling atmosphere of the competition. Finally, as Hide handed him the trophy, as if we were actually part of the ride, we were teary-eyed. Finally, we saw how love and hard work paid off.

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With an incredible story, an admirable main character, a candid set of casts, fun info-graphics (with matching cute voice-over from Sasa’s daughter, Ana) and an enjoyable flow of storytelling, “The Coffee Man” is one delightful documentary film which is highly recommendable even to non-coffee drinkers. When you come across a story about passion as intense as Sasa’s, you don’t have to love the same thing in order to enjoy it and believe that you can achieve your own dreams by giving it your all.


Written by Michelle | Photos by Franz

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