Business travelers love their coffee, so United Airlines executives knew they had a difficult choice to make when they decided to conduct a re-evaluation of the carrier’s in-flight java.
The winner, United said this week, is illy (yes, they spell it with a lower case i), which will be phased in starting next month on United flights and at its airport lounges. It’s not an American brew; it’s based in Trieste, Italy, and it’s been around for more than 80 years.
United must figure that customers like their coffee strong, because the illy brands that the airline selected include its Scruro dark roast for flights worldwide, with Scruro and illy’s espresso going into United Clubs. All its beans are Arabica, sourced from growers around the world.
Remember how United made a big splash back in 1996 when it announced it would bring Starbucks on board as its official coffee? That lasted until United’s 2012 merger with Continental, when the powers that be decided to put Continental’s coffee supplier onto United flights. That vendor was Texas-based Fresh Brew, which United still uses today.
According to the Chicago Business Journal, United started its review by considering 17 coffee brands, then narrowing the list to nine and finally to three. Fresh Brew was one of the three, but Starbucks wasn’t. Maybe that’s because Starbucks earlier this year became the official coffee of Delta.
American’s coffee supplier for the past five years has been Sacramento-based Java City. Starbucks is also the coffee of choice for Alaska Airlines, while JetBlue serves up the Dunkin’ Donuts brand and Southwest offers a private-label brand called LIFT.
Readers: Do you have a favorite in-flight coffee brand? What do you think of the in-flight coffee on various airlines?
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