Cat Chat: Coffee by a champ

Cat Chat: Coffee by a champ

It’s not everyday you get your cup of coffee made by the country’s best barista.

Really, Pete Licata, the coffee quality manager and barista trainer at the Honolulu Coffee Co. at Ala Moana Center — and reigning U.S. barista champ who placed second in the world this month — only works five days a week.

Originally from Kansas — and a huge beer connoisseur — Licata earned the runner-up spot at the World Barista Championship held earlier this month in Bogota, Colombia. Competing as the U.S. champ, Licata progressed through the field of 54 baristas to reach the final round, pitted against five other finalists from Japan, Spain, Australia, El Salvador and the United Kingdom. They each prepared four espressos, four cappuccinos and four original signature coffee drinks to exacting standards in a 15-minute performance judged by an expert panel. Licata lost to Alejandro Mendez of El Salvador to become the first Hawaii barista to ever make it that far in a world competition.

And he’ll make you a soy latte if you catch him on his shift.

We stopped by to chat with the second-best barista on the planet and got him to brew us some coffee, too.

Shooting Cat Chat for Nonstop

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The Nonstop crew stopped by the Honolulu Coffee Co. to shoot this Cat Chat with the U.S. barista champ — and all-around cool guy — Pete Licata.

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Today’s happy shot

Driving to Waialua for Snow Puffys from Paalaa Kai Bakery

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‘Sneakers’ and other underrated movies

‘Sneakers’ and other underrated movies

The other day I stumbled across an old issue of GQ and read, “The Day the Movies Died” by Mark Harris.

It’s a very honest critique of movies today — and why many of them suck:

It has always been disheartening when good movies flop; it gives endless comfort to those who would rather not have to try to make them and can happily take cover behind a shield labeled “The people have spoken.” But it’s really bad news when the industry essentially rejects a success, when a movie that should have spawned two dozen taste-based gambles on passion projects is instead greeted as an unanswerable anomaly. That kind of thinking is why Hollywood studio filmmaking, as 2010 came to its end, was at an all-time low—by which I don’t mean that there are fewer really good movies than ever before (last year had its share, and so will 2011) but that it has never been harder for an intelligent, moderately budgeted, original movie aimed at adults to get onto movie screens nationwide.

Here’s the brutal — if not entirely depressing — reality of films in today’s theaters, according to Harris:

With that in mind, let’s look ahead to what’s on the menu for this year: four adaptations of comic books. One prequel to an adaptation of a comic book. One sequel to a sequel to a movie based on a toy. One sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a movie based on an amusement-park ride. One prequel to a remake. Two sequels to cartoons. One sequel to a comedy. An adaptation of a children’s book. An adaptation of a Saturday-morning cartoon. One sequel with a 4 in the title. Two sequels with a 5 in the title. One sequel that, if it were inclined to use numbers, would have to have a 7 1/2 in the title.

It made me think about the movies I’ve liked over the years — and how many of them didn’t rake in the kind of box-office bucks, say, the sequel to a cartoon or an adaptation of a comic book. Movies like “Sneakers,” “Inception,” even “Babe” never got the kind of revenue love as critically un-acclaimed films like “XXX” and even “Hangover 2″ (which, in my opinion, was grossly overrated.)

So do you know some movies that are worth seeing that didn’t get the kind of attention they should have? Share here. I’m updating my Netflix account.

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Today’s happy shot

Walking the dogs is one of my favorite pastimes.

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Great Debate: Curly vs. flat saimin noodles

Great Debate: Curly vs. flat saimin noodles

It’s not breaking news: people in Hawaii love their noodle dishes.

And we’re not afraid to debate them, either.

Case in point: Nonstop’s Mari Taketa (@nonstopmari) sparked a spirited online debate with her blog about saimin — and how much she doesn’t like it.

Ask anyone from the Islands and they’re tell you where to get the best saimin, ramen, oxtail soup, pad Thai, pho, chow mein. You name a noodle dish, and local folks will have something to say.

Even when it comes down to the noodles themselves.

I was talking with Rainbow Drive-In owner Jim Gusukuma the other day and he mentioned that he switched the saimin noodles he had been serving from flat to curly noodles.

“It makes a difference,” he said, smiling.

Is that true? Do noodles make that much of a difference? And are saimin noodles — slightly thicker than fine Chinese egg noodles and ideally a bit chewy — really better curly?

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