The Pitch: What's it like to the best barista in the world?
Licata: To be honest, I don't think it has sunk in yet. The world title is one that I have sought for so long, and now that I have it I am a little in shock! To me it does mean a few things. My perspectives are valued by the industry, and I am now a representative for people worldwide who love specialty coffee. It is an honor and a privilege.
What were you focused on during the final round of competition? Not spilling drinks! Actually, the competition is an intensely focused 15 minutes. You have to deliver a world class speech while preparing the best coffee drinks you possibly can, all while being technically consistent and clean in your methods.
Have you thought about where you'll display your trophy? I have a collection of 13 trophies at this point, so I'm going to need a wall at some point! My WBC trophy will be making the rounds at our Parisi cafes for sure.
Are there any techniques or presentations that you'll be bringing back from Australia?
Australia (Melbourne in particular) has a truly impressive cafe scene. I found a few fun and cool techniques while I was there and will be testing some of them to see how they work for us at Parisi. There are also some retail items I enjoyed and want to look into bringing to Kansas. A little under wraps right now, but I'm sure you will see some cool new things at our cafes soon!
What are you experimenting with right now? Currently I am looking into some new and exciting coffees to feature. Harvests from Guatemala and El Salvador should be available soon. I am also experimenting on some new bitters recipes for drinks that will soon come to the cafes!
With your announced retirement from competition, which Kansas City baristas do you think have a shot at next year's title? My teammate at the regional competition from Parisi, Reagan Petrehn, has an immense amount of potential. I have huge respect for many of our local baristas and I think that Tyler Rovenstine from Oddly Correct is up there as well. You never know though, there could easily be some newcomers who surprise everyone!
What's next for you? Continuing to push Parisi to the top of the coffee scene, traveling around the world to be a part of the global coffee community, and hopefully someday being able to settle down and embrace a slightly less hectic life.