Alaska Airlines develops special coffee blend that tastes better at 30,000 feet

Something special is brewing at Alaska Airlines. The airline announced that it had developed a custom-made coffee blend specifically crafted to be enjoyed at 30,000 feet.

The Seattle-based carrier partnered with Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a third-wave coffee roaster and retailer based in Portland, Oregon, to create the special blend.

The two companies conducted extensive brewing tests both on the ground and in the air before finding the perfect blend. 

Due to altitude, human taste buds react differently at 30,000 feet, which can cause food and drinks to taste different from how they do on the ground. 

Alaska Airlines said that more than 200 pots of coffee were brewed for the development of the project, and over 20 variables were tested. This included changes in grind, dose, filter paper and filter-pack dimensions.

The airline and coffee company also held multiple flight tests and blind customer surveys in the air to ensure that quality would be the same from a cup of Stumptown coffee on the ground.  

Alaska Airlines described the final custom-made roast as having the same clean and sweet base as Stumptown Coffee’s Holler Mountain, but with a primary focus on a roast that mellows acidity and introduces just enough toastiness.  

The result, the airline said, is “exceptionally smooth and balanced”, with aromatic notes of toasted marshmallows, browned butter and toffee with delicate hints of citrus and cherry.

“Having flown millions of miles fueled by countless cups of coffee, Stumptown stands out as first class,” Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci said in a statement

Minicucci added: “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 Airlines’ custom roast will be available exclusively on all Alaska flights starting December 1, 2023. 

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