ASCA: take a bow

Which actor or actress would you get to play you in a biography about your life?

It’s a question you hear from time to time – often answered with the celebrity most resembling your personality or appearance. Just quietly I’ve always thought Vin Diesel could be a contender for myself, or Daughtry frontman Chris Daughtry.

When Filmmakers Jeff Hann and Roland Fraval were looking to make a documentary about 2015 World Barista Champion Sasa Sestic’s efforts to source the perfect cup of coffee, it seems they went for the most realistic option –- himself. Titled The Coffee Man, the film explores the world of specialty coffee and the lengths Sasa went to in pursuit of the world championship title in Seattle, United States. The movie sees Sasa trekking across the globe from Ethiopia to Colombia to Seattle, searching for the best beans, smuggling milk into the US, and outclassing almost 52 competitors on the world competition stage.

Just like a Hollywood movie premiere, The Coffee Man made its world debut in Canberra on 18 May. I can’t recall the last time a member of the ASCA alumni walked a red carpet to their own movie premiere – pretty cool. The occasion was picked up by national and local media who were interested to learn just what this “Coffee Man” was all about. Our sincere thanks to Sasa for helping to bring greater awareness and education of our industry to a much larger audience.

As Sasa’s reign as World Barista Champion comes to an end, we put our hopes and dreams in the next Ona Coffee hopeful, Hugh Kelly, to win the world title back to back when he competes in Dublin, Ireland at World of Coffee. Slater St Bench’s Devin Loong will also do the same as he attempts the World Brewers Cup Championship for the second time. We wish them both the best of luck.

In the meantime, working hard behind the scenes is our ASCA Southern Region Barista Guild, which is getting excited about a number of upcoming events. First up, the Guild is hosting its own screening of The Coffee Man on 14 June, and in July, in association with The Harwood Andrews Golden Plate Awards, will host the 2016 Victorian Regional Barista Competition in Geelong, Victoria.

I’m also incredibly pleased to announce that nominations are now open again for the Eleonora Genovese Australian Coffee Woman of the Year Award.

Together with the Genovese family, ASCA is inviting industry members to nominate women in the coffee industry who have displayed many of the qualities Eleonora is best known for, including her leadership and passion to unite the local and international coffee communities. Eleonora sadly lost her brave battle with cancer in September 2015.

To be eligible, candidates must demonstrate a career of 10 years or more in the coffee industry, be actively involved and currently putting back in the coffee community, such as active volunteer work in competition judging or event assistance), be a mentor in their line of work, and demonstrate commitment to growing and supporting the Australian coffee scene. A panel of ASCA representatives will shortlist the top 10 candidates. The Genovese family will then select the overall winner.

A Rising Star Award will also be presented to an up-and-coming industry woman who has made a great impression in their field of work, regardless of their length of time in the industry. This year Melissa Caia and Lucy Ward were recognised as worthy recipients of the inaugural award.

“Eleonora was an outspoken, passionate representative of the industry who encouraged and supported many individuals, and volunteered much of her time to support barista competitions around the world, even during her illness,” says Genovese Coffee’s Simon James. “We would like the award to acknowledge Eleonora’s contribution to the Australian coffee industry, and recognise women who continue to blaze a trail in an otherwise male dominated industry.”

All nominations can be made to with the nominated name, and reason for selection. Hopefully we receive many nominations so we ask those contributing to our industry to take a welldeserved bow for their efforts, just like Sasa has done on the world stage.

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