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Project Origin’s quality relationships

From the September 2016 issue.

Sasa Sestic’s green bean trading company, Project Origin, is built on a commitment to quality and community.

Project Origin
Single origin, direct trade, ethical sourcing, sustainability – these terms are hallmarks of the specialty coffee movement. But how does an owner/operator of a small specialty coffee house in, say, Australia connect with producers on the other side of the world to ensure that what they are offering their customers does in fact live up to these terms?

That’s a problem that 2015 World Barista Champion Sasa Sestic was trying to solve for his own café, Ona Coffee, when he travelled to Brazil five years ago to source his own lots of green beans direct from producers.

After that trip, Sestic decided he wanted to adopt the direct trade model for 100 per cent of the coffee used by Ona.

However, what began as a rather narrowly focused adventure to source coffee for his Canberra-based specialty coffee house has since taken on a life of its own.

As Sestic’s sourcing and importing experience grew, so too did his networks, resulting in a larger connection of roasters throughout Australia with whom he would cooperate when importing lots of coffee.

Over a period of about three years, this grew into the foundation for a viable green bean trading business, founded on the principles that initially drove Sestic to source that first lot of direct trade coffee from Brazil back in 2011.

Now two years old, Project Origin has about 60 regular customers spread throughout Australia and the Asian region, and will this year import some 600 tonnes of directly traded specialty coffee from 11 countries.

While the type of customer does vary, for many smaller specialty coffee roasters, Project Origin is a way of living up to those direct trade principles that are held so dear within this segment of the industry, even if they don’t necessarily have the means to do the travelling and sourcing themselves.

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