Want to know who the best barista is in the country? He hails from Kansas City, Mo. After a weekend of competition in Boston April 11 to 14, Licata was named 2013 U.S. National Barista Champion by the world's coffee authority and largest coffee trade association, Specialty Coffee Association of America.
In December 2012, this 34-year-old longtime coffee aficionado returned to his hometown of Kansas City by way of Hawaii to work for Parisi Coffee as Quality Assurance Manager. In this short time with Parisi, he's fallen in love with Parisi's coffees and dedicated himself to training for his last competition for the world title.
"I love competing but I think I'm ready to retire from the competition side of things, especially after I have a world title under my belt. I hope to focus on my second love, and that's mentoring up-and-coming baristas," Licata said. "I have a passion for educating others about coffee. More than just how to make a good cup of coffee, but rather the art of the technique."
With 40 competitors vying for the top spot at the USBC in Boston this month, Licata came out on top with uncomplicated recipes using a unique, award winning single origin Colombian coffee. He impressed the judges with his cool demeanor, home-made syrups and attention to detail. The standard competition consists of a 15-minute performance that features the preparation of four espressos, four cappuccinos and four original, signature drinks.
"The name of the company is Parisi Artisan Coffee and we call ourselves artisans for a reason. We hand craft everything from the small batch of the coffee to all of our syrups, which we make in the cafe," Licata added.
Licata's signature drink featured a chilled palm sugar simple syrup combined with an espresso shot over ice and a dropper full of non-alcoholic bitters with orange peel and lemongrass.
In 2011, Licata won the U.S. Barista Championship and went on to win second place at the world barista competition in Bogota, Columbia where he competed against the top baristas from 54 countries. Only one other U.S. barista has ever achieved this height.
Licata began competing in 2005 and has won many top honors throughout the years, including regional champion in 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013. Most notably, he has won second place in the U.S. Barista Championship three times. Parisi Coffee has been roasting coffee in Kansas City for six years. During that time the company has established itself as a high-end, specialty coffee company offering product in grocery stores, local restaurants and now providing a unique coffee experience in two local cafes.