This is the second time Pete Licata has made the WBC finals. The last time was 2011 in Bogota, when he placed second. Pete has been competing for almost as long as we’ve been producing this magazine. I always remember him saying that the first amazing coffee experience he had was when, as a barista at PTs Coffee in Kansas City, he met Tim Wendelboe, the Norwegian who was, at the time, the World Barista Champion. Everything for Pete changed after that.
Today the the WBC in Melbourne, Pete is using a beautiful coffee from Colombia—in fact, it is a CoE winning coffee, but Pete says he fell in love with it way before that. When his friends at Cafe Imports sent it to him to consider for competition, Pete fell head over heels in love.
Pete has a deceptively simple WBC performance: he simply wants to pay homage to all the hands that have touched his coffee along the way—the farmer, the roaster, the barista. He has provided the judges with little booklets to follow along and actually meet these people who have helped Pete along to this place.
OK, Pete just poured his cappuccinos and they looks amazing! Beautiful shots, amazing milk. Fantastic. He tells his judges they will taste caramel, sweet malt, and chocolate n the cup. Pete is using a double hopper Mahlkönig grinder for a very specific reason: he switches up the grind between espressos and cappuccinos, a very risky thing to do. But if anyone can pull it off, it’s Pete.
Back to the simplicity of his routine: Pete only has 3 ingredients to his sig drink, and espresso is one of them. The other two: a palm sugar simple syrup that he created at the beginning of his performance. He also puts dropper fulls of a mixture of orange peel, lemon grass, bitters, and quinine, into the espresso.
The drink truly looks like a cocktail, minus the alcohol, which is really what a signature drink should be. Pete tells the judges that he is the last set of hands in the chain to touch this coffee before the judges, and as such, his responsibility is to communicate all that is good about it.
Pete, you totally rock. We love you, the U.S. is proud of you. Well done!