Days after Pete Licata’s big win at the 2011 United States Barista Championship, we’re still smiling and hugging. After all, Pete wasn’t competing just for himself. As the first to prevail at any national barista championship using 100% Hawaiian coffee, he also upheld the state’s honor.
We couldn’t be happier for Pete. His second-place finishes at the 2007 and 2008 USBCs left him hungry for a win. That prompted him to harvest, process and roast his own competition beans — a feat no barista had ever tried.
If Pete had something to prove, so did we. Our band of companies known as “Team Hawaii” worked with him for months on the winning espresso.
Fresh Cup captured the significance of our collective success:
Licata’s victory serves as a coming-out party of sorts for Hawaiian coffee and the quality movement under way there. Lorie Obra, owner of Rusty’s Hawaiian, says she’s excited for the international exposure the win brings. “That will really elevate Hawaiian coffee in the world,” she says. “A lot of people are saying, ‘Oh, Hawaiian coffee is all hyped up.’ We’re showing them we’re not hyped up; we are the real thing.” Meza says he’s especially excited that Licata will be representing American-grown coffee at Bogota, Colombia’s World Barista Championship, which for the first time will be held in a coffee-producing country. “Hawaii is often overlooked as a true specialty producer, and we really wanted to show Hawaii can produce a diversity of great coffees,” he says. “The Hawaiian industry is near and dear to our hearts.”
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