On a rainy Wednesday afternoon in Venice, California, Dan Kougan spreads out three shot glasses in front of a curious audience. The champagne-colored liquid bubbling on the left is a homemade hops soda. The creamy, tan shot in the middle is a barley-chocolate malt topped with a tuft of steamed milk. And the chestnut-hued beverage on the right, the raison d’être of this whole ordeal, gives off the unmistakable scent of fresh espresso, extracted from the highest-quality coffee beans the developing world has to offer.
“Thanks, Dan, I’m really excited!” says Elaine Levia. She smiles as she eyes the Flight of Three—the name given to the triptych of shot glasses on the glass-top bar before her. “Do you have drinking instructions?” she asks.