Stumptown Replaces Starbucks on Alaska Airlines

The Seattle-based airline chose Stumptown as its new coffee provider based on a high-altitude taste test.

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Alaska Airlines will serve Stumptown coffee on its flights beginning Dec. 1, replacing Starbucks as the airline’s coffee. Stumptown will also replace Starbucks on Alaska’s subsidiary airline Horizon Air.

Alaska declined to disclose any financial details of its new Stumptown partnership to the Seattle Times or Oregon Business.  A spokesperson for the airline told The Seattle Times that the company issued requests for proposals for its new coffee provider once its contract with Starbucks expired.

In a press release issued earlier this week, Alaska said the fact that coffee tastes differently at high altitudes caused them to begin tasting potential new coffee blends in 2022. The process of finding a new, flight-appropriate blend involved brewing over 200 pots of coffee, controlling for 20 different variables, and in-flight taste-testing.

“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 President Laura Szeliga said in the release.

The Seattle-based airline already offers a number of Pacific Northwest-made refreshments on its flights, including Tillamook, Beecher’s Cheese, Salt & Straw Ice Cream, Seattle Chocolates and Straightaway Cocktails.

Alaska will also offer oat milk as an optional additive for in-flight coffee drinks. In January, Stumptown made oat milk the default additive to all of the milk-based beverages served in its coffee shops. The airline also plans to make Stumptown coffee available at its lounged at the Portland International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport. 

Founded in 1999, Portland-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters has 10 locations across Oregon, California, New York and Japan, including one location at the Portland International Airport. California’s Peet’s Coffee & Tea, which is in turn owned by the Luxembourg- based JAB Holding Company, purchased Stumptown in 2015. This year, Stumptown opened a new café on the ground floor of the newly completed 11W building in Portland. Stumptown beans, grounds and cold brew drinks are also available in grocery stores nationwide.