Airplane Coffee - Looking into Mediocrity

Have you ever wondered to yourself why airplane coffee tastes terrible? It seems like everything on a flight really conspires against you. The cramped seats, the stuffy and dry air, the overly salted food, the passive aggressive fight over who gets which armrest… and the final kicker, that weak, super sour and acrid muck they serve as “coffee”.

But coffee is really simple: good beans with good water to the right temperature equal a wonderful cup of brew. So what could possibly go wrong?
Surprisingly enough, it isn’t actually the beans – several major roasters actually serve the airlines now, including other specialty roasters. The major issue with in-flight coffee is the actual water being used. Filled in tanks that only get cleaned out thoroughly once every six months, if not a year, it is no surprise that over 12% of commercial planes test positive for signs of bacteria likely to cause ailments like food poisoning.
Furthermore, the water itself doesn’t get heated properly either – at different altitudes, the actual boiling point of water is significantly lowered, meaning that the beans are never heated to the perfect temperature required to express the full potential of the beans used. It doesn’t help that the change in altitude (combined with other factors, like dry air and cabin pressure) also changes the perception of taste. Altogether, this equals one terribly crummy cup of muck.
So next time, grab a Kopi on your way to your flight – don’t risk that 12%!