Kansas City Local Wins World Barista Championships | KCUR

Kansas City Local Wins World Barista Championships

May 26, 2013

Updated May 28 10:45 a.m. Licata Takes Home Gold

Pete Licata, Kansas City local and Quality Assurance Manager of Parisi Artisan Coffee, who had won the US Barista Championship in April, went on to snag first place at the World Barista Championship this weekend in Melbourne, Australia. He topped more than 50 competitors, using coffee roasted at Parisi. 

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When it comes to coffee, Pete Licata, Quality Assurance Manager of Parisi Artisan Coffee,  has perfected the art of espresso. He's known as the “best barista in the nation,” since he won the US Barista Championship this year.  He also won in 2011.  In the competition, each barista has to mix 12 drinks in 15 minutes, all while presenting the coffee to four sensory judges.

Pete Licata asserts that the key to a competition-worthy cappuccino is all in the milk foam--tiny bubbles, without much air. A tip for good espresso: Grind the coffee fresh.
Credit Susan B. Wilson / KCUR

This weekend, Licata is representing the United States in the World Barista Championship in Melbourne, Australia, against the top baristas from more than 50 countries. 

"Coffee Sneaker"

Licata says that he's been drinking coffee ever since he was a kid, sneaking it for the "buzz."

"It was mostly a delivery vehicle for sugar and caffeine," he says. But it was in college that he became professional, falling into a job at a local café.

National Competitor 

Licata says that it's the fast pace of the morning rush at Parisi that has helped him refine the "details of [his] technique." But it was a mix of trial and error, and speech classes in school that honed the fluidity of his spoken presentation. 

In the final round of the national competition, Licata says he was fairly confident in his performance, but the other six finalists were very skilled.

"I just thought, 'I don't know. Was I good enough to come out on top?' And you never know, but you just plan to do the best you can," says Licata. But for the world competition, "I think I have a chance of taking it all." 

Check out this video of Licata's award winning presentation at the 2011 US Barista Championship.

The World's Classroom

He adds that there's always something "enlightening" at any competition, but especially  on the world stage.

"No two people think the same way. The further you get from your hometown, the more interesting things seem to get," says Licata. "There are methods people will use to extract their coffee that you would never dream of. But once you see it, and you understand it, it's not that alien of an idea and you can implement things in your own way." 

Now, he's headed to the The World Barista Championship in Melbourne, Australia. It runs May 22-26.