Alaska Airlines has partnered with Stumptown Coffee Roasters to create a unique coffee blend specifically designed to taste better at high altitudes.
As noted by the airline, food and drink tastes different at 30,000 feet than on the ground. Studies have suggested that multiple factors lead to taste buds reacting differently at high altitudes, such as that dry cabin air suppresses people’s sense of smell, which in turn affects their sense of taste, or that other flight conditions, such as low air pressure and loud background noises from aircraft engines can suppress the ability to taste sweet and salty flavors.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters has been developing Alaska’s custom coffee blend that has tasted better at altitude since last year’s fall. It will be available on all carrier flights by December 1, 2023.
The brew is based on Stumptown’s Holler Mountain, its best-selling organic coffee blend. It’s a medium-dark blend that has been “mellows acidity” and toasty enough to appeal to a diverse range of palates, according to Alaska Airlines, and it has “aromatic notes of toasted marshmallows, browned butter and toffee with delicate hints of citrus and cherry.”
The brew has also been taste-tested to ensure it tastes great, whether black or with Alaska’s inflight creamer or oat milk, as well as with Biscoff cookies served with the coffee.
In addition to the specially crafted inflight blend, Stumptown’s original Holler Mountain blend will be served for brewed coffees, and its Hair Blender blends for hand-crafted espresso beverages in Alaska’s lounges at Portland International Airport (PDX) and New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Stumptown’s Trapper Creek decaf blend will also be available.
“Having flown millions of miles fueled by countless cups of coffee, Stumptown stands out as first class,” said Ben Minicucci, CEO of Alaska Airlines. “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.”
Laura Szeliga, President of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, added, “We wanted a crowd pleaser – something that would delight folks who enjoy milder coffees and also speak to guests who enjoy medium-bodied roasts.”
Stumptown Coffee Roasters is a Certified B Corporation pioneer of the third-wave coffee movement that focuses on creating high-quality, lightly-roasted coffee sourced from individual and sustainable farmsteads. It currently has multiple cafes in Portland, New York, and Los Angeles, as well as one in Kyoto, Japan.
It is an eco-friendly company with plans to reduce energy and water consumption while sending zero waste from the manufacturing process to landfill sites by 2025. These values align with Alaska Airlines’s ambitions to become net zero by 2040.
The partnership with Stumptown also brings an end to Alaska’s decade-long collaboration with Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks.
“We are grateful to our friends at Starbucks and proud to have served their coffee on board our flights for years,” said a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines in an email. “We are always looking for ways to bring new in-flight food and beverage offerings.”