Our Barista Stories series has been long in the making. Since our first visits to cafes around Europe, we have met many amazing baristas who have had a number of interesting stories to share. We love the speciality coffee community exactly for the people building it and are thrilled to introduce some of those individuals to you.
Baristas truly are the ones who contribute to the atmosphere in the cafe massively and are the key reason why we’d revisit.
Read on to meet Zdeněk Hýbl, brewing your daily cup of coffee at Onesip Coffee in Prague.
Zdeněk Hýbl is one of the co-owners of Onesip Coffee, one of the best cafes in Prague, where this 25-year-old works as a barista, but also the tech guy, as he puts it. Originally from Kralupy nad Vltavou, he lives in Prague now. He has participated in the Czech Barista Championships, as well as the Coffee Masters London competition. Today, he helps his friends build a roastery called Candycane.
A few questions for Zdeněk Hýbl
What is the funniest thing that you have experienced behind the bar? Can you recall any embarrassing moment?
I do not know if that counts, but it was behind the bar in Prufrock’s basement where the training room is. Gwilym Davies gave me the opportunity to sleep there during London Coffee Festival/Coffee Masters. Everything was a bit in a hurry. In the morning I realised that not every Prufrock’s barista knew that I am sleeping on the floor in the sleeping back. They were shocked when they came in, that some stranger is sleeping there haha, it was great, fun experience!
What would you do if you were not working in coffee?
I used to be professional yo-yo player and had quite a successful band. It was nice, if there is no coffee in my life, I hope, or I wish, I would do that for a living.
What is an unusual habit or hobby that you love?
I am quite obsessive about my “working space” around the grinder and the machine. I hate too many things and I have to wear an apron with a towel on it for cleaning of the portafilter.
What are some bad recommendations you hear often in your profession? What is your piece of advice for anybody starting a career as a barista?
A bad recommendation is to be a coffee nazi and say things like “no milk!” and “we do not have sugar.” Everyone has their own way of how they want to enjoy the coffee. They paid for it to you and you as a barista you are there to prepare an amazing cup of coffee for them. Be nice, be a guide for those people if they want it, and let them enjoy the coffee their way.
My advice would be, drink more coffee, drink great wine and beer, eat well and train your palette. Never stop going to other coffee shops. How can you know if you are doing it right or wrong? Be a nice guy, but also confident in what you are doing!
Looking back, what one thing would you wish to know when you were starting to work as a barista?
You need more skills than just “know how to dial-in an espresso” to be a good barista.
If you have a bad day at the cafe, what helps you to handle it and provide good customer service?
My favourite music. Some customers are really hard, sometimes they just come to piss you off, because they want it, for no real reason. Bad days happen, everyone is difficult from time to time. Me, you, and them. No worries, after the shift you are going to have a great dinner and a glass of your favourite beer/wine. You deserve it!
What is the one thing that you would miss the most if you could not work as a barista/in coffee anymore?
Czech coffee scene (professionals). We are pretty connected, we are like friends (most of us), helping, supporting each other and pushing [the industry] forward.
What do you consider some of the best experiences you have had in coffee so far?
I remember one catering, which wasn’t close to any city or any shop and we didn’t bring tamper with us. The stall was ready, people were asking: “Can I order?” or “Is the coffee ready?” and we were desperately looking for a thing to tamp the coffee with. After a few minutes we found that the bottom (the base) of a champagne glass was nearly perfect and we made like 400 cups of coffee with it!
Opening Onesip Coffee with my long-time friend Adam, it was the right choice and the right time, I am happy about that!
Competitions helping you to grow technically and mentally, 3rd place in a Czech Barista Championship and 9th place in a Coffee Masters competition were good experiences. These days Adam and I are helping our friends to build and run a roastery called Candycane coffee, that is slightly different, but a great experience as well.
Still enjoying and loving coffee like when I was a young barista Zdeněk Hýbl.
Quick Fire Question
Would you serve filter coffee with milk, if asked for it?