Airplane coffee is often considered bitter but this custom coffee promises to challenge that and will exclusively be served on flights from December 1.
Who does not love the aroma and taste of freshly brewed coffee during the day? Probably, most people. But for airplane passengers, coffee on flights can taste far from perfection. Airborne-served coffee typically tastes bitter and weak. But one airline is hoping to change that. Alaska Airlines is promising a specifically designed coffee blend that is supposed to taste better when 30,000 feet up in the air!
Alaska Airlines is committed to solving the world's "airplane coffee" problem— Morning Brew ☕️ (@MorningBrew) October 11, 2023
The airline spent a full year developing a blend that's unaffected by changing altitudes, and even dropped their Starbucks partnership to carry it on flights this fall pic.twitter.com/zilWJV7BcV
"Airplane coffee is often a joke for many travelers," Edward Russell, editor of the Airline Weekly newsletter for travel industry publication "Skift," told CNN. "That's why airlines often try to up their game with various global coffee brands; despite that, most onboard options are mediocre." Alaska Airlines has dropped its 10-year-long partnership with Starbucks to team up with Portland, Oregon-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters for the project.
Quick science lesson here - Food and drinks usually taste different on flights because pressurized cabins lower blood oxygen levels, which decreases the ability of olfactory receptors (i.e., the ability to smell). The dry air in flight cabins also affects the same. So the airline tested more than 200 pots of coffee, including 20 different versions during flights and with blind surveys as well to come to their current custom-blend.
"We even taste-tested the coffee with Alaska's inflight milk and Biscoff cookie to ensure both paired beautifully with the coffee we landed on," their statement read, according to TODAY. "The custom blend served on a flight is an organic coffee roasted deep enough to bring out notes of toasted marshmallow and dark chocolate while remaining exceptionally smooth and balanced," added a statement from Stumptown.
Stumptown's "Holler Mountain" includes a medium-dark blend for the base, infused with punchier notes that taste like marshmallows, browned butter and toffee as well as a "delicate hint" of citrus oils and cherry essence. The coffee's notes have a more "complex" taste when consumed in the air.
"Having flown millions of miles fueled by countless cups of coffee, Stumptown stands out as a first-class," Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci said in a statement. "Like travel, coffee has a remarkable way of bringing people together. I can't wait for our guests and employees to enjoy a cup of Stumptown when they fly with us."
Alaska said it is "grateful to our friends at Starbucks and proud to have served their coffee on board our flights for years. With that said, we are always looking for ways to bring new in-flight food and beverage offerings to our guests." Stumptown will replace Starbucks on all flights, including Horizon flights, starting on December 1. "We wanted a crowd pleaser—something that would delight folks who enjoy milder coffees and also speak to guests who enjoy medium-bodied roasts," said Stumptown President Laura Szeliga, according to Alaska Airlines News.
A flight attendant for 30 years, Roman was one of many employees who joined the tasting tour of Stumptown's Roastery at their headquarters in Portland, Oregon. "I hope our guests fall in love with our new custom roast as much as I did when I first tried it," he said. "It's a bit lighter with an organic, cleaner finish that I think will be well received. So many of our guests ask for a cup of coffee on board and our roast is bound to exceed expectations. It's remarkable how even the smallest thing—like coffee—can brighten someone's day."
New coffee? Nice. @stumptowncoffee is coming on board! The iconic third-wave Portland roastery created a custom blend just for us—and it’s specifically crafted to be enjoyed at 30,000+ feet. Sip our new brew on board starting this holiday season. ☕️ https://t.co/0kTYXCAlvC pic.twitter.com/gzebPYKCKQ— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) October 11, 2023