Beginning Dec. 1, Alaska Airlines will serve Stumptown Coffee in flight, marking the end of its partnership with fellow-West Coast brand, Starbucks, which began in 2012. As early as this month, Alaska Airlines will serve three Stumptown coffee blends—Holler Mountain, Hair Bender and Trapper Creek (decaf option)—at Portland International Airport and John. F. Kennedy International Airport lounges.
Inspired by its certified-organic Holler Mountain coffee, Stumptown formulated a customized organic medium-dark blend with light acidity to suit a wide range of taste palates 30,000 feet above ground, an Alaska Airlines spokesperson wrote to FoodNavigator-USA during an email interview. The flavor profile features notes of marshmallows, browned butter and toffee and "delicate hints" of citrus and cherry.
“Taste buds react differently at high altitudes and this blend was crafted with this in mind. Specifically, in an arid and pressurized environment, our palate’s ability to perceive nuance is diminished,” the spokesperson said.
To develop the flavor profile, Stumptown increased the coffee’s “body and sweetness to ensure a complex, yet integrated blend,” the spokesperson explained. More than 200 pots of coffee were brewed to align with in-flight taste palettes, including testing changes in grind, dose, filter paper and filter-pack.
The coffee blend’s flavor profile was also tested to pair with Alaska’s in-flight milk, including oat milk, and Biscoff cookies.
Along with Stumptown, Alaska Airlines’ partnerships include other West Coast brands: Tilamook, Beecher’s Cheese, Salt & Straw, Seattle Chocolates, Fremont Brewing, Evergreens and Straightaway Cocktails.
“At Alaska, we believe in strengthening and supporting the communities our employees, neighbors and guests call home, and in Portland—Stumptown’s hometown—we’ve been honored to support this community since 1979…It’s about forging connections, fostering job opportunities, volunteering, donating miles to nonprofits and inspiring the next generation of aviation,” the company stated in a press release.