Sasa Sestic launches Best of Project Origin Auctions

World Barista Champion (WBC) Sasa Sestic has unveiled a new auction program for El Salvador and Honduras.

Named The Best of Project Origin, Sasa has created the auctions to help develop coffee growing communities and advance quality coffee globally.

“My objective is to continue supporting the specialty coffee industry by connecting coffee communities all over the world,” Sasa said. “I truly think this auction is the most humble way to connect coffee buyers with consumers, and also to educate both farmers and roasters on how we can improve the specialty coffee industry.”

The Best of El Salvador auction will take place from 2 May – 8 May.

The Best of Honduras Late Harvest auction will take place from 4 July – 10 July.

The Best of El Salvador will support coffee producers who have previously placed in the top 15 of the Cup of Excellence (COE) in El Salvador, such as Gilberto Baraona, Jorge Raul Rivera and Mauricio Salaverria. Gilberto, Jorge and Mauricio are also board members of the Best of El Salvador by Project Origin organisation, and will support the running of the event.

The not-for-profit El Salvador project will also be joined with some star barista power, including 2011 WBC Champion Alejandro Mendez as Project Manager.

In 2015, the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) decided to “temporarily scale back” COE competitions, which included the El Salvador COE. While the ACE said the decision was a difficult yet necessary one in order to “fine-tune and upgrade” the COE process, Sasa says it was important to him to continue supporting the country’s coffee growing communities.

“In the past several years El Salvador producers have experienced a lot of problems with Roya and drought. Despite that, many producers keep harvesting delicious but fragile Bourbons on their farms because we love these coffees,” Sasa said.

“When I heard that COE was not running in El Salvador this year, I thought I could do my part and support its people. I believe this is the year where coffee roasters can travel to El Salvador and show the communities that we care about their amazing efforts. We can do this by selecting and purchasing the best lots that this country has to offer, and provide fair prices. We are in this together, lets help each other.”

The Best of Honduras Late Harvest will support coffee producers that harvest coffees from March onwards. The not-for-profit event will be run with the support of IH Café, the Honduras government, Benjamin Paz, the Lanza family, and the Sestic family.

“In Honduras, six of the last eight COE winners have come from the El Cielito Mountain in the Santa Barbara region, with an average score of 91.56. When I met producer Jorge Lanza and his family and was welcomed into their community, I was so inspired I decided to buy my first coffee farm on this same mountain,” Sasa said. “The unique microclimate means many farmers here are picking exceptional crop from March onwards, but it will never see representation at COE auctions due to timing alone.”’

Sasa is encouraging passionate specialty coffee industry members to get involved and support the auctions by purchasing some of the exceptional coffees on offer.

A national jury will first put entries through a pre-selection process and shortlist the highest scoring 35 to 40 coffees. The international jury at the Project Origin Best Of Auction in each country will then judge the winners.
On the final day, coffees that have scored 86+ points will be auctioned off. The auction will include an online bidding system for those who cannot physically attend.

Coffees that do not make the finals can still be purchased. After the auctions Project Origin will assist with shipping coffees to the final destinations.

The auction invites experienced cuppers, previous judges of international competitions, roasters, and new cuppers to get involved. It is an opportunity to expand production knowledge and form direct trade relationships.

For more information and to register participation in the event, email Habib Maarbani, habib@onacoffee.com.au.

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