EXCLUSIVE! Focus on Melbourne Documentary Film Festival: The Coffee Man

The Coffee Man 

It’s 4.30 am in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia. The sun is hours from rising, but Sasa Sestic is awake and in hot pursuit of the one thing that will make his day. Driven by his obsession, Sasa hunts for his own Holy Grail: the perfect cup of coffee

The Coffee Man follows Sasa from Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee to Seattle, Washington (USA), the home of the specialty coffee movement and host of the World Barista Championship.

From humble beginnings in war-torn Yugoslavia to his adopted home in Australia, Sasa Sestic’s journey to the 2015 World Barista Championships is a long one. But his dedication and pursuit of excellence carries him through as do his family, his staff, coffee growers and roasters and the vendors who travel with him on this remarkable journey.

The Coffee Man is an intensely personal, observational documentary that will have you biting your nails, standing up and cheering; and wishing that you, too, could experience Sasa’s Holy Grail: the perfect cup of coffee.

Sasa Sestic The Coffee Man.

Sasa Sestic The Coffee Man.

Making the Film

Written by Jeff Hann (Director)

This project all started when I met Sasa through my brother in-law Mick and had a lunch together. We talked about the possibility of doing a film project and at that time Sasa wanted us to film at the coffee farms and capture footage about direct trade coffee and the coffee farms in Ethiopia. I went back to Melbourne and talked to Roland (Producer) and he was keen!

A few weeks later with cameras in hand, we headed to Ethiopia and it was an extremely busy whirlwind trip. Once we arrived we were straight into a car and onto the well worn bouncy roads dodging donkeys, goats and people to get to the various coffee farms located in the remote parts of the country.

We were challenged by the time we had to capture the moments and get what we needed on the farms but it was a successful and great trip to Ethiopia. We didn’t have time to setup shots, it was really a run-and-gun style shoot and we were challenged by only having two people to capture everything. We also had about 15 batteries for our cameras as electricity in some areas wasn’t common and we had to plan all our gear prior to the trip.

After this trip Sasa invited us to head to the Australian Barista Championships and we said “What?, What is this barista comp?”

Then the story took a turn and it became for of an inspirational story following Sasa’s journey through coffee.

The thing we love as documentary film makers is the ability to change the story and to capture the moments as they happen. The Coffee Man was a fantastic journey through coffee and making this film was incredible and I wouldn’t change anything. Seeing Sasa watch it for the first time was a moment I’ll never forget.

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