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Airplane Coffee Guide: What Kind of Coffee Do Airlines Serve?

woman holding her airplane coffee

Most people don’t see drinking a cup of coffee during a flight as a memorable event. This is due to the bad reputation airlines have gotten for their poor coffee quality and/or preparation. If you’ve flown over the years, you may have experienced this along with the much-talked-about bad food. Fortunately, however, airlines have made strides to incorporate better coffee brands into their flights. The question is, has it made the coffee experience better when we’re flying?

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Why Do Airlines Have Bad Coffee?

As you’ll see below, for most airlines, the reason for bad coffee isn’t the brand. Many of the coffee brands that airlines offer their guests are favored by people when they are on the ground. So, why is the coffee not as good when you are in the air? Here’s a look at a few reasons airplane coffee may taste a bit different when we’re flying as opposed to when we’re sitting in our favorite local coffee shop.

The Water

Some people who whisper about the yuckiness of airplane coffee tend to blame the water. If the water pipes aren’t the cleanest, that could transfer into the coffee and leave it tasting less than enjoyable.

Time in the Pot

Another big reason coffee on the plane may taste bad to certain people is the time it sits in the pot after brewing. With airline coffee having a bad reputation, fewer people may be ordering. If that’s the case, the brewed coffee is most likely sitting in the pot, on the burner, for extended periods. Anyone who loves coffee knows the difference between a fresh pot and one that’s been sitting for ages.

stewardess preparing airplane coffee
Image Credit by: Olena Yakobchuk, Shutterstock

The Altitude

While the everyday person may not be an expert flyer, those who spend a lot of time in the air have come to understand that altitude can change our perception of taste, especially saltiness and sweetness. Being in the air can also make it harder for coffee to stay at the temperature we prefer. Keep the altitude in mind the next time you try a cup of coffee during a flight and find it less than appealing.

The Service

While most flights feature great service and flight attendants who are on top of their game, it’s always possible to have a bad flight experience. If your attendant doesn’t care how the coffee tastes, how fresh it is, or whether you’re enjoying it, drinks on flights can be difficult. This is something else you should keep in mind when ordering coffee during your flight. If the service has been flawed, don’t expect an excellent cup of joe when you want one.

flight attendant handing over an airplane coffee to passenger
Image Credit: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV, Shutterstock

Coffee Brands by Airline

Now that we have talked about the reasons you may be expecting bad coffee on a flight, there is hope. Many airlines have partnered with great coffee brands. This is their way of trying to improve their coffee game and make the experience of coffee lovers better. Check out the coffee brands now carried by some of the top airlines to see the efforts they are making to bring great coffee into the air.

  • Air Canada – Second Cup
  • Air China – Golden Coffee
  • Air France – Segrafedo/Illy
  • Alaska – Starbucks
  • American – Java City
  • ANA – Illy
  • Asiana Airlines – Hand Drip
  • Austrian Airlines – Melangerie
  • Brussels Airlines – Rombouts
  • Cathay Pacific – Illy
  • Delta Airlines – Starbucks
  • EasyJet – Illy
  • El Al – Nespresso
  • Emirates – Costa Coffee
  • Eurowings – Dallmayr
  • FlyDubai – Starbucks
  • Frontier Airlines – Boyer’s
  • Hawaiian Airlines – Hawaiian Paradise
  • IndiGo – Nescafe Gold
  • Japan Airlines – JAL Café
  • Jetblue – Dunkin
  • KLM – UTZ Certified
  • Lufthansa – Nespresso
  • Malaysian Airlines – Nespresso
  • Norwegian – Nescafe
  • Qantas – Bodum
  • Qatar Airlines – Hi-Fly Emilio Kaffee
  • Ryan Air – Lavazza
  • Singapore – Illy Monoarabica
  • Southwest – Community Coffee
  • Spirit Airlines – Brisk RCR
  • Swiss – Blasercafe
  • TAP Portugal – Delta Coffee
  • Turkish Airlines – Turkish Coffee
  • United Airlines – Illy
  • Virgin America – Philz Coffee
  • Virgin Atlantic – Fairtrade Coffee
  • Virgin Australia – Nespresso
  • Vueling – Illy/Nescafe
  • WestJet – McDonald’s McCafe

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A New Frontier

As you can see, many of the top airlines around the world are upping their coffee game. Yes, some who’ve had bad coffee experiences in the air will remain skeptical, but those who are still open to trying a cup of coffee while in-flight may taste the difference. Always keep in mind, however, some things may make your coffee taste a bit different while flying. If you’re willing to overlook these issues, these great brands are now carried by some of the best airlines and may change your mind about coffee in the air.

Featured Image Credit: PONG HANDSOME, Shutterstock


Melissa Gunter

Melissa has been a fan of coffee since the first sip she stole from her Granny's cup when she was just a girl. Now, she spends each morning writing with a hot cup of coffee at her side. With a love of sweet and creamy bliss, Melissa and her daughter, Amber, stop by and try out every local coffee shop they see. Neither are afraid to try something new and have a long list of favorite coffee beverages they simply can't do without. When she's not freelance writing about her 2 passions, coffee, and pets, Melissa spends her time with her husband, 2 kids, and 5 fur babies. She also loves diving into the fiction world under her pen name, Rena Marin. If she isn't at the laptop or with the family, Melissa is out enjoying the mountains of East Tennessee she calls home.

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