They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Well, for Pete Licata it began with a single cup of coffee. Licata grew up in Kansas City and spent 17 years working in the coffee industry—including a stint in Hawaii where he learned about roasting and coffee farming.
But his big claim to fame? Licata clinched the prestigious title of World Barista Champion in 2013. Caffeinated prestige and accolades so followed—as did a consulting gig that’s taken Licata to over 20 countries to teach the fine art of coffee curating. Currently Licata is holding court at Veneziano Coffee Roasters in Melbourne, Australia, where he recently announced he was releasing a distinctive blend he curated himself. Coffee connoisseurs immediately took note and started snapping them up. “This release will only last for so long, so get in quickly,” he says.
We touched base with Licata to get the 411 on his buzzworthy (and buzz-inducing) exclusive new blend.
You’ve been a coffee connoisseur for years, why start your own blend now?
“Working for a great roasting company over here in Melbourne has been a treat this past year. The reason this was the time to start my own blend is because we knew we needed some different avenues to pursue during the pandemic. The current situation has really transformed our company, and I got the chance to do two things:
1. Put together a blend of super tasty coffees that we were going to use for special in-person events this year. Since everything is canceled for now, I wanted to use them up while they are fresh, and knew I could make a killer combo.
2. I’ve been fortunate to have the means to support my family during these times, and I wanted my profits to go to something worthwhile. This pandemic is hitting everyone around the world, and medical needs are clearly important. Since I’m using Colombian, Indonesian, and Ethiopian beans, I’m donating $2 from each bag sold to go to Doctors Without Borders, who have a presence in all three of those countries!”
Tell me more about the trifecta of blends you offer, please.
“This blend is three beans—Colombian, Indonesian, Ethiopian—and all of them are ‘naturally processed’—meaning the fruit is dried on the bean. This creates distinct fruit notes in the aroma and taste, but since each origin has its own character (due to terroir and varietals) they make a very complex profile when blended together. I get flavors from berries/cherries, crisp apples, spices, sweet chocolate, and toasted nuts.”
I’ve met you and you’re pretty picky. How long did it take you to create this and put your name on it?
“All of the coffees in this blend are quite high in quality, so basically I chose some killer coffees to begin (the easy part). It did take me a month or so to get the roast profiles right where I want them, as well as the blend percentages just right (the hard part).
I am only willing to put my name on something that I believe is delicious—and delicious to the majority of people out there. Only once I got the flavor to really sing in the cup was I ready to put my name on it.”
What has response been from customers?
“So far, the feedback has been great! I was confident I was putting something nice together, but you always have that self-doubt in the back of your head. So hearing people rave about it has made me quite proud.
Once we sell these particular coffees, we will have another version that is up to the same quality standards though, so you get more yummy coffee. The flavor profile may change a little, but if my name is on it, I’m determined to make sure it is excellent!”