THE PETE IS BACK. You know him and love him: Pete Licata, who after winning second place in the USBC not one, not two but three times, won top honors in the USBC in 2011. He went on to win second place in the World Barista Championship in Bogota, Colombia, in 2011—a height that only one other U.S. Barista Champ—his close friend, Heather Perry—has ever achieved.
Now Pete is back to try again, and with the South Central Regional Barista Championship title under his belt (and by the way, Pete has over the years won Regional titles five times). Pete just recently moved back to the mainland after almost three years on the Big Island in Hawai’i, where he worked with Rusty’s Hawaiian, the celebrated Ka’u coffee farm known for small but spectacular lots of coffee. For his 2011 USBC and WBC performances, Pete grew, picked, processed, dried, roasted, and, yes, served these coffees from Hawai’i.
He’s using a phenomenal coffee today which he obtained from his friends at Cafe Imports: Cup of Excellence winner Señor Leguizamo of Colombia.
The Pete is going to be tough to beat today.
Pete has a warmth that’s hard to resist. And he brings it immediately, genuinely, beautifully, from the very first moments. After graciously and humbly welcoming his judges, he moves right into appreciation for the man who grew his coffee, Señor Leguizamo, winner of the 2011 Cup of Excellence in Colombia. Pete tells the judges about how meticulous Leguizamo is with selective picking, wet fermentation, which he does for 15–20 hours, extra rinsing at the wet mill, drying for an astounding 10+ days, “with the express purpose of getting more complexity out of the coffee,” especially in the finish.
Pete describes the flavors of his coffee: red zinfandel with an acidity comes through right off the top like a pop of cranberry, a deep, heavy sweetness, “that hits you in the back of the palate—it’s more of a sensation than a flavor… at the bottom, deeper in the cup, you get a beautiful grape-like acidity. I’m dosing this coffee 20 grams into portafilter, 30 grams into the cups.”
He tells the judges to “stir your coffee with your spoon 10x. Makes sure it’s fully integrated.”
For Pete’s cappuccino, he tells the judges he is changing the dose to 35 grams extracted in cup, in order to, he says, “bring out more of the heavy deep flavor in the roasting, more body to bring out the fats and sugars in milk.” He says that John Welsh, the roaster at Parisi Coffee, uses intense focus and integrity to make sure the hard work of Leguizamo does not go to waste.
For Pete’s signature drink, he has chilled a palm sugar simple syrup, along with the espresso shots he pulled at the start of his performance and has been chilling over ice. He adds a dropper full of non-alcoholic bitters with orange peel and lemongrass, “to accentuate the grape acidity you tasted in the first shot. Stirring gives a little dillution, to highlight the grape-like acidity accentuated by sugar and bitters, deep heavy sweetness, turning it almost into a chocolate, and that light, balanced, bitterness.”
I love it when Pete says, “I don’t think a drink has to be incredibly difficult and complicated to be delicious.”
Very well done, Pete.
FINAL TIME: 14.58