In two coffee industry firsts this weekend in Houston, Pete Licata of Honolulu Coffee Co. became the first competitor from Hawaii to win the United States Barista Championship and also the first-ever to prevail at any national barista championship using 100% Hawaiian coffee.

Licata now advances to represent the United States in competition with more than 50 other nations at the World Barista Championship in Bogota, Colombia this June.

Supported by a group of dedicated volunteers on-hand for the event nicknamed Team Hawaii, Licata’s fifteen-minute presentation featured coffees he handpicked, processed and roasted from Rusty’s Hawaiian 100% Ka’u Coffee farm and Kona Coffee & Tea Company’s Wai’ono Meadows farm.

“We congratulate Pete on his outstanding performance,” commented R. Miguel Meza of Isla Coffee who worked with the champion to craft his coffees. “We believe that this will shine a spotlight on the new generation of espresso expertise being grown right here in Hawaii.”

This is the first time a U.S. Barista Champion created his own coffee from fruit to cup for competition. “U.S. baristas typically can’t devote the months needed to learn these skills,” Meza said. It was possible for Licata because he lives in Hawaii — the only state that grows coffee commercially.

The United States Barista Championship is the culmination of ten regional competitions organized by the Specialty Coffee Association of America in which competitors produce espresso, cappuccinos and original signature drinks to exacting standards for a panel of judges.

The World Barista Championship will be held June 2-5 in Bogota, Colombia. For more information about the competition, please visit