World Barista Championship Interview - Pete Licata, Part 2

May 19, 2011

2011 US Barista Championship TrophiesNow that you’ve had a chance to get to know Pete, this year’s US Barista Champion, I think it’s about time we get to know a bit more about his story, leading up to the big win. With the actual World Barista Championship commencing in 2 short weeks, it’s only fair we get to know the players who’ll be representing us in Bogota.

A couple of years ago, in preparation for the US Barista Championship, Pete was inspired to try a new concept. Coming from the only place in the US that actually grows & produces its own coffee (Hawaii), he figured it would be appropriate to dive into the competition using all the stages, from tree to cup.

He recruited a dedicated team of coffee growers and roasters and “Team Hawaii” was born. I had the pleasure of speaking with these integral members: Lorie of Rusty’s Hawaiian Coffee (you can see her story here), Miguel Meza, the roaster (originally founder of Paradise Coffee and today hailing from Isla Coffee) and of course, Pete (the US Champion from The Honolulu Coffee Company).

We at ROASTe wanted to get a better understanding of what actually made this team work so well, and how it led to Pete’s ultimate win. One of the key things that they pointed out is that “Hawaii, being a tourist state, is not as exposed to the barista competitions.” As a result, Pete had to lean on each support system all the more. In fact, Pete had the chance to “get the support on the farm level (Hawaii being the only state that actually grows the coffee)” giving him “an opportunity to get into the source.”

For him, training “has been much more thorough and encompassing in the process because cupping coffee at farms, using different varietals and different ages, along with different processing methods” exposes him to all the levels that go into the final cup. In this way, he’s had the opportunity to get “a more fundamental understanding of coffee.”

Essentially, going into this year’s competition, Pete took the time (with the help of Lorie & Miguel) to really pick, roast, cup and taste the coffee he used at the competition. This “training” provided him with the key elements to prepare him for the US competition.
2011 United States Barista Champion - Pete Licata

With Bogota looming over him, Pete is now equipped for the next challenge, the World Barista Championship. Although he’s nervous about it, he’s focusing his concerns on more concrete things: ensuring his shots will be timed according to the changes in altitude and elevation, addressing any other little issues that may arise on new terrain, and of course just “trying not to mess up my work!”

Pete leaves you with the impression that he’s a modest individual, fairly down to earth, someone who will surely put you at ease. And for all you US competitors from this year, Pete gave you a huge compliment!

“This year’s US competition was pretty intense. It seemed like we had fewer competitors overall, but we had more quality competitors who have been competing for a long time. There were definitely some very highly skilled baristas that were there and I felt pretty honored to take top mark in such a competition.”

So yes, we really are proud of you Pete, and hope you’ll keep up the good work. We look forward to your performance in Bogota and will be cheering you on. Good luck!

And for an added bonus, here’s a little video sharing Team Hawaii's story.

2011 US Barista Champion - Pete Licata

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