Serbian born Sasa Sestic not only has a torrid affair with coffee, but also enjoyed the game of hand ball and loved chocolates. Ona Saw outlet had its beginnings in Manuka itself in the Australian Capital Territory. This started with chocolates but then coffee was selling better. In 2007, Sasa began seriously going into the art of coffee bean roasting, with two mates, Aaron Howman and Angus Mackie. It is said the guys from the start longed to - and did - produce niche and unique coffee. And so the story of Ona began. They source their single origin and blended beans from places as diverse as Malawi, Costa Rica and Italy. Today, Ona not only brews, but offers barista sessions, holds community gatherings, whips up cafe food, organises coffee themed events and sells related hardware and accessories.
The deep passion shown by Sasa translates into the coffee served at the Manuka cafe. Here, crowds already gathered on the early Friday morning I visited the place. There is an air of positive intensity as the baristas concentrate on their craft, whilst customers willingly abide and quietly soak in the ritual. There are expectations. There is a focus on business, yet also the carrying out of a craft. There is a flow and momentum behind the coffee machine.
Ona also has branches in the Jindabyne /Perisher area and Newcastle in NSW, whilst in Queensland, you can find an outlet in Coolangatta on the Gold Coast. Interesting enough, they have come up with a decaffeinated premium product for sale, together with several others which can be found in store and on line. The site in the Lawns in Manuka may seem compact, but there is a vibrancy found from the product - strength, flavour and texture of the coffee beans used - and the service delivery, with a village feel.
Would I return? A definite yes, I reckon this is the best coffee I have had in Canberra. This a must visit for anyone then going to explore further the delights of Manuka - the church, the cinema and an orderly neighbourhood - before choosing a place for lunch time. Maybe the Ona Coffee Cafe again!