WBC Countdown: Barista Champion of the USA Pete Licata




Barista Mag:  Before coffee, did you work in a different job or industry, or what did you study in school?

Pete:  I studied Japanese and wanted to be a translator.

BMag:  How did you get started in coffee?

Pete:  I was studying Japanese at the cafe my friend was running. I needed a job while I was going to school and liked coffee (mostly caffeine though). I was offered a job and eventually took it!


BMag:  What was your first amazing experience with coffee?

Pete:  Tasting and comprehending the flavors in espresso that I was always told were there. I was closing the cafe by myself and pulled a shot to drink. That was the first incredibly exciting moment with coffee for me.

BMag:  Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?

Pete:  I have had many influences. Tim Wendelboe was a big one. He visited Kansas and talked about competition. I was very impressed by his professionalism and ownership of coffee. Also his European-ness…

BMag:  What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?

Pete:  I would like to see closer relationships between farmers/producers, roasters, and baristas as a whole. The more each of these [groups of] people understand what the other is looking for or doing, the more we can all present a cohesive product to the consumer.

BMag:  Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet, and why:

Pete:  Dr. Illy

BMag:  Name a barista you admire, and why:

Pete:  Just one?!? Chris Baca from Verve Coffee in Santa Cruz, Calif., has incredible skills and makes being a barista so much cooler that I ever could. I admire so many baristas I could name them for hours.

BMag:  Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.

Pete:  It’s not nice to play favorites!

BMag:  Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?

Pete:  Once again, too many to name. You should check out my friends at Everyman Espresso in New York.

BMag:  Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?

Pete:  Ethiopia. I want to see where it all began..

BMag:  What are your interests outside of coffee?

Pete:  Martial arts, brewing beer, skiing, Books and Brews (ask me if you want to know)

BMag:  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Pete:  Not competing! In 5 years I see myself living where I intend to live for a very long time and doing exactly what I want to be doing

BMag:  Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?

Pete:  My coach and friend Holly Bastin. She has always been able to coax the best out of me, no matter how hard I have resisted. Thanks Holly!


About Sarah 932 Articles
Sarah Allen (she/her) is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.