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Alaska Airlines Brings Custom-Blend Stumptown Coffee Onboard

Elevating Inflight Coffee to New Altitudes: Alaska’s Exclusive Custom Roast

Something novel is percolating at Alaska Airlines! In collaboration with Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a renowned third-wave coffee pioneer, the airline is introducing a distinct custom coffee blend. Crafted explicitly for the unique palate sensations experienced at 30,000 feet, this special blend will debut this autumn on all Alaska flights.

Alaska Airlines custom roast will be available exclusively on all Alaska flights starting this fall and will be on every flight by Dec. 1, 2023. Source: Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines custom roast will be available exclusively on all Alaska flights starting this fall and will be on every flight by Dec. 1, 2023. Source: Alaska Airlines

What is Third-Wave Coffee?

Stumptown, a well-loved coffee brand based in Portland, Oregon, has been at the forefront of the third wave of coffee, a craft movement championing quality and sustainability in the sourcing and roasting process. As a Certified B Corporation, Stumptown has taken steps to reduce energy and water consumption, as well as aiming for zero waste in its manufacturing operations by 2025. This aligns with Alaska’s goal of becoming carbon net zero by 2040.

A Coffee Blend Suited to Soaring Above the Clouds

Alaska Airlines recognizes the peculiarities of taste buds at high altitudes. Flavors on a flight can differ significantly from those experienced on solid ground. To address this, the airline collaborated with Stumptown’s experts to develop a coffee blend that guarantees a consistently delightful, intricate flavor profile. The result? It is an impressively smooth and savory cup every time one flies with Alaska Airlines.

Third-Wave Coffee Pioneers

Third-wave coffee pioneers, such as Stumptown, elevate coffee to an art form, concentrating on the intrinsic qualities of the coffee rather than simply the roasting process. This approach accentuates each cup’s inherent sweetness and clarity, challenging conventional perceptions of coffee.

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

Love at First Sip

The collaboration began with Alaska Airlines sampling Stumptown’s popular, certified organic coffee, Holler Mountain. The airline’s medium-dark blend employs the same fresh and sweet foundation as Holler Mountain. Still, it focuses primarily on a roasting method that softens acidity and introduces perfect toastiness to cater to diverse tastes.

This exclusive blend is notable for its velvety and balanced characteristics. It boasts aromatic notes reminiscent of toasted marshmallows, browned butter, and toffee, complemented by subtle hints of citrus and cherry. Furthermore, this particular roast is versatile. It is equally delightful when consumed black or enhanced with creamer or oat milk, also available on Alaska flights.

Alaska Airlines custom roast will be available exclusively on all Alaska flights starting this fall and will be on every flight by Dec. 1, 2023. Plus, guests can sip Stumptown in the airline's Portland and JFK Lounges.
Alaska Airlines custom roast will be available exclusively on all Alaska flights starting this fall and will be on every flight by Dec. 1, 2023. Plus, guests can sip Stumptown in the airline’s Portland and JFK Lounges. Source: Alaska Airlines

By December 1, 2023, passengers can look forward to enjoying this custom roast on all Alaska flights. For those frequenting the airline’s lounges at Portland and JFK, Stumptown’s Holler Mountain will be the featured brew for regular coffee, while Hair Bender will enhance hand-crafted espresso drinks. Moreover, Trapper Creek is set to be the decaf alternative.

A Universally Appealing Coffee Blend

To perfect this blend, numerous brewing tests were conducted in flight and on the ground. Alaska Airlines brewed over 200 pots of coffee. They tested multiple variables to ensure passengers have a phenomenal inflight coffee experience that mirrors the quality they expect from Stumptown on the ground.

Stumptown President Laura Szeliga commented, “We wanted a crowd pleaser—something that would delight folks who enjoy milder coffees and also speak to guests who enjoy medium-bodied roasts.”

Alaska Airlines flight attendant Roman. Source: Alaska Airlines

Roman, a Portland-based flight attendant, shared his excitement: 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.

Part of Alaska Airlines’ Premiere West Coast Offerings

Aligning with the airline’s commitment to premier West Coast offerings, Stumptown joins a list of eminent West Coast brands, including Tillamook, Beecher’s Cheese, and more, offered by Alaska.

As pioneers of the third-wave coffee movement, Stumptown has consistently showcased its dedication to quality, sustainability, and unparalleled roasting techniques. This collaboration, rooted in shared values of innovation and sustainability, further cements the airline’s reputation for offering unparalleled in-flight experiences and services.

Sophie, Horizon Air First Officer based out of Boise and former barista (middle).

Boise-based Horizon Air First Officer Sophie, who previously worked as a barista, approves of the airline’s new coffee blend. “My first impression of the company was cool, edgy, and very Portland,” said Sophie. “I hope our guests will appreciate this change and know how much work went into our roast. I learned on our tour about the countless tests it took to get the blend just right for 30,000 feet. To me, that shows care, attention to detail, and quality. All the things I think our guests will appreciate.”

A Real Crowd Pleaser: Alaska Airlines’ Stumpton Coffee

Alaska Airlines' Stumpton Coffee
Sara, an Alaska first officer in Portland (left). Source: Alaska Airlines

“I think the Alaska custom roast will be a real crowd pleaser,” said Sara, an Alaska first officer. “It’s super approachable, full-bodied, and subtly sweet. I was very excited to be invited to the tasting at Stumptown and see the roasting process and all their equipment. Those guys are the real deal! This is a big come-up for all of us, and I think our guests will be excited to get a fresh cup of coffee from a great PNW brand.”

Watch the Making of Alaska Airlines’ Custom Coffee

Alaska Airlines Brings Custom-Blend Stumptown Coffee Onboard. Source: Alaska Airlines

Quick Facts on Alaska Airlines’ Stumptown Coffee Custom Blend

  • More than 200 pots of coffee were brewed for the development of this project.
  • Alaska Airlines tested over 20 variables, including changes in the grind, dose, filter paper, and filter-pack dimensions, to ensure a superior in-flight coffee experience.
  • The airline conducted multiple flight tests and blind customer surveys to ensure the taste tests matched the experience of enjoying a cup of Stumptown coffee on the ground.
  • The airline taste-tested the coffee with Alaska’s inflight milk and Biscoff cookie to ensure both paired well with the coffee.
  • Stumptown joins Alaska’s portfolio of leading West Coast brands, including Tillamook, Beecher’s Cheese, Salt & Straw, Seattle Chocolates, Fremont Brewing, Evergreens, and Straightaway Cocktails.

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