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Barista Stories: Zbyněk Vojtěšek of QB box, České Budějovice

Meet Zbyněk Vojtěšek, a 34 years old coffee professional from České Budějovice in Czech Republic. For 8 years Zbyněk has been helping to develop the local coffee scene. This year he won the Czech Cup Tasters Championship in and in just a month prepared himself for the World Stage in Chicago. He placed a very high 15th place!

Zbyněk cooperates with QB Coffee Roasters and is the co-owner and barista of QB box – an espresso bar made in a recycled shipping container situated in the heart of České Budějovice.

Zbyněk, what is your first memory of coffee? 

I would divide it into two parts. First was my very first cup of coffee at a children’s camp, when I was 15, and it was typical Czech “turek”. The second and much more important was when I visited my first coffee festival in 2014. After that, I definitely fell in love with specialty coffee.

​​​​​What inspired you to pursue a career in the coffee industry, and how did you get started? What did you do before coffee?

I started to work in a restaurant as a part-timer during my studies at the university, at the faculty of Fishery and Water Protection. After having my first steps with dark roasted coffee, and basic skills in latte art, I started to learn more and taste many more different coffees to find higher diversity in flavours. Rather than just bitterness.

Tell us a bit about your worklace.

I cooperate with QB Coffee Roasters, based in Brno. It has an espresso bar and two gardens situated on Veslařská Street by the river Svratka, focused on specialty coffee and products from Sanremo.

There is also QB box, could you describe the concept behind it? What inspired the idea of a container café?

The first idea wasn’t about the container, but about the local aspect, where we wanted to open a small espresso bar. it was near South Bohemian University campus and colleges, where I lived during my studies and for me, there was a need to have a spot here with some specialty coffee. In cooperation with QB Coffee Roasters, we decided to try to find some good space to make an espresso bar, but there was nothing really compelling. After that, we just found a piece of land and decided to put a container there. That’s how QB box was born.

What kind of experience do you want your customers to have when they experience your coffee?

I think it’s not just about the perfectly prepared coffee. For me, a visit to the espresso bar is about positive vibes, and interacting with friendly professional baristas with good coffee skills. So I want my customers to feel comfortable and enjoy a great beverage.

How do you stay motivated and inspired to keep improving your coffee-making skills?

Visiting coffee festivals and barista competitions is a big push to improve my own skills, as well as meetings with the coffee community, cuppings, and discussions. If you have a true passion for this job, all of the above will motivate you.

Congratulations on your success as the Czech Cup Tasters Champion and 15th place at the World Championship! Could you share some insights into your preparation process for competitions?

Thank you! The preparation process was continuous because, between the Czech Cup Tasters and the World Championship, it was just one month. It was essential for me to train with Ondra and Kryštof from Kmen Coffee Roasters. It made it just so much more competitive and fun. As well, it’s about mindset, so I tried to prepare for that as well, as I could. Also including a change in diet (not sure if it has a big impact in general, but for my mindset it had). 

What motivated you to compete in the Cup Tasters Championship, and how has your experience in competitive tasting impacted your approach to brewing at QB box?

My motivation in the first year of competing was just to compare my tasting skills with other baristas because sensory perception is a thing on which I have a big focus. The biggest impact is not only the competition, but the intensity of preparation, and training that really improves the taste palette.

As someone who has undergone significant personal changes to excel in your field, what advice would you give to aspiring coffee professionals?

When you find passion in something, go for it, and enjoy the whole journey, every single cup and a lot of coffee talks.

In addition to coffee, you’re known for your baking skills. Could you tell us more about this passion and how it complements your role in the coffee industry?

To be honest, I had to stop baking because it was time-consuming, and not able to combine it with barista work, and taking care of the espresso bar. The first two years were great, and I really enjoyed making desserts on my own. My favourite ones were cream puffs. Now, I just make cookies, but they are really popular! You have to taste them, when you come for a coffee. 

What coffee challenges are you looking forward to? Any new projects or collaborations?

I’m looking forward to competing again because I enjoyed it a lot. I also hope to grow our espresso bar, and if I can find another project which will make sense to me, I will for sure go for it.

Quick Fire Questions for Zbyněk Vojtěšek:

Would you serve filter coffee with milk if asked for it?

Yes, I let everyone drink coffee, as they like it.

Do you ever take sugar with your coffee?


Espresso or Filter coffee?

Filter coffee.

Milky or Black?


Slurp or spit?


Do you aim for Sweetness, Acidity, or Body?

Still looking for balance.

Cake or Pastry with your coffee?

Pastry – croissant or a danish.

Favourite piece of barista equipment?

A scale.