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Airports, Please Serve Better Coffee.

December 14, 2011 at 11:32 AM | by | Comments (2)

A single international airline can serve upwards of 50,000 cups of coffee every day. The proof is here. In the sky, coffee is a whole other ordeal, seeing as how it's universally complained about ("brown water") and whatnot. At least the quality, or lack of, has an excuse—the fact that you're flying through the air at 500mph+ over god knows where, with an extremely limited galley and overstressed flight attendants.

Down on the ground, however, no such excuse exists. Which is why we do not understand why airports haven't been paying more attention to craft coffee roasting. Starbucks, schmarbucks. When will airports have pour over coffee bars?

Just last week we noticed that the Gold Coast Dogs at Chicago-O'Hare has Metropolis Coffee on offer. Metropolis, for those uninitiated to the Chicago bean scene, is serious stuff and well respected. Meanwhile, over at Philadelphia's Airport, you can swig La Colombe Torrefaction, a coffee roasting company that hits more on the gourmet end of the spectrum than the artisanal, but better than Starbucks nonetheless.

So what we're saying is, more independent roasters who actually care about what you're drinking, versus chain brands that pour it out just to get you out. It's a difficult demand, we know, since the workings of airport concessions are often convoluted, but we figure if terminals can revamp their grody old sportsbars into craft beer dens, then why can't coffee see the same love?

[Photo: Jaunted]

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Hip hip

Hooray for this story! I couldn't agree with you any more.

Airport franchisee rules kill this idea

This certainly is not an original thought. There are a number of logistical reasons why this is the way it is. One of the major reasons has to do with how licensing and franchising works in airports. The fact that someone uses Metropolis or La Colombe coffee is somewhat meaningless, as none of that will matter if the vendor has poorly maintained equipment and minimum wage staff who are careless or clueless with their coffee preparation. And airports suffer this in spades. Most airports strike exclusive labor deals where the employees are employees of the contracted labor group, and the brand names you see are merely licensed by said labor group. They often have no other connection to the brands you would otherwise hold up as exemplary outside the airport environment. So good luck on actually getting an independent cafe staffing a place in an airport, given the massive bids and competition they'd face. So while we can whine and posture for better coffee in airports, having a few carry Intelligentsia or Stumptown beans is not going to make one iota of difference. As long as these contracted labor structures are in place, and the equipment used is abused like a Tijuana donkey, your airport coffee is going to taste like ass no matter whose beans are used.

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