It was time for Pete Licata to do something outlandish. After five years of entering regional and national barista competitions, he’d never taken home the top prize.
Whatever come what may, 2011 would be his final year of competition. So Pete had big plans.
“I want to create my own coffee -- from tree to cup,” he told Miguel over drinks. “I want to pick my own beans, process them and roast them.”
Miguel took a swig of beer and shook his head. No barista had ever attempted such a thing; they typically work with roasting companies to source their coffees.
“You’re crazy, but hell yeah!” Miguel said. “If this is going to be your last year competing, then let’s go all out.”
During the following eight months, Pete questioned his decision more than once. He battled spiders while picking coffee at the farms of Rusty’s Hawaiian and Kona Coffee & Tea. He spent many pre-dawn hours learning how to roast at Downtown Coffee in Honolulu. He practiced pulling shots at Beach Bum Cafe in Honolulu. And he asked friends such as Shawn Steiman of Coffea Consulting to taste his competition coffee.
By the 2011 United States Barista Championship, our little band of companies was known as “Team Hawaii.” Many of us -- including Rusty’s Hawaiian -- flew to Houston, Texas to watch Pete win. And when it came time for this year’s World Barista Championship, Miguel went to Bogota, Colombia to help Pete train.
Sending Miguel to Bogota was only fitting, since he worked closely with Pete throughout the entire process. Check out the "Stories" section (to the right) for links to see Pete talk about his competition coffee in various stories and videos.
As for the coffee featured here, it’s an authentic reproduction of the prized espresso. Pete and Miguel crafted it with beans from the partner farms. The medium-dark roast evokes the competition coffee’s chocolate, candied citrus, caramel, brown sugar and ginger.