Somewhere between theory and practice, there has to be a good fit. At least you hope there is, hope that lofty ideals needn't be totally compromised in the name of practical application. And the latter needn't be without artistry or panache, certainly not without quality.
It's a false dichotomy, too often struck in the food and beverage world.
Fast and convenient means inedible; yet gourmet requires pretension and a hefty price.
This is the same thread that ran through my post about the USBC, discussing the difference between the performance they put on, and the daily task of tending a coffee bar. I said that there were probably things to be learned by watching them, but I couldn't pinpoint what, exactly.
I think I have a better idea now. Or rather, I think I swiped a better idea. The bit about the space between theory and practice is lifted, with honors, from Rock & Roll, the second Tom Stoppard play to get reference here in as many days. Stoppard's Max is talking about communism; I'm talking about coffee. But even still, I think there's a relevant lesson here.
What works in an ideal world is worth keeping in mind. We have our castles in the sky (another lit reference...), worthwhile aspirations, but not something we'll ever live in. But that doesn't mean we have to settle for the slums, either.
So while the USBC presents an ideal scenario - not one that could ever occur in even the most elite of cafes, much less the vast majority - it is still instructive and inspirational. This is the best we can do, given the best case scenario. Let's strive for that, whether we can possibly achieve it or not.