For more than a decade, travelers on Alaska Airlines have been served cups of coffee from Starbucks. For those on Horizon, an Alaska subsidiary, it’s been over 30 years.
But starting Dec. 1, something different will be filling those cups: A custom blend from Portland-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters (Stumptown is currently owned by JAB Holding Company, a German investment firm that owns Stumptown’s now-parent company, Peet’s Coffee).
“We are grateful to our friends at Starbucks and proud to have served their coffee onboard our flights for years,” Alaska said in a statement about the change.
“With that said, we are always looking for ways to bring new in-flight food and beverage offerings to our guests,” the statement continued. “We take great pride in partnering with small businesses along the West Coast and are thrilled to welcome Stumptown Coffee to our portfolio of regional food and beverage partners.”
The Stumptown blend has been specifically developed to be enjoyed at altitude, Alaska said in a press release, where taste buds can react differently than on the ground.
“We wanted a crowd pleaser,” Stumptown president Laura Szeliga said of the blend in a press release, “something that would delight folks who enjoy milder coffees and also speak to guests who enjoy medium-bodied roasts.”
The blend uses the same base as Stumptown’s Holler Mountain but, said Alaska, “with a primary focus on a roast that mellows acidity and introduces just enough toastiness to please a wide range of palates.”
For fans of an in-flight Pike Place roast, the news might be alarming. But for Stumptown, it could be a very good sign. In 1992, a couple years after Horizon started serving Starbucks, when the company went public, Starbucks’ annual revenue was $73.5 million. Twenty years later, in 2012, when Alaska started serving Starbucks, the annual revenue was up, a lot: $13.3 billion. In 2022? Starbucks’ annual revenue was $32.25 billion.
— Lizzy Acker
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