Coffee might be the drink of choice of metropolitan elites, with small fortunes spent on lattes, flat whites and esoteric roasts – yet the filter coffee served on airlines has seldom kept up with the soaring quality of speciality coffees over the last decade. BA is set to change this with the introduction of Union hand-roasted coffee served in First, Club World and BA lounges from May.
First class passengers can select from a range of coffee options including latte, cappuccino, filter coffee or espresso, while Club World passengers get Union’s filter coffee. Passengers flying in economy will miss out on the Union experience, but passengers able to gain access to BA’s lounges can enjoy Union coffee there.
London-based ethical roaster Union Coffee (est. 2001) is known for its quality, flavour and consistency among connoisseurs. From a modest start Union’s success now amounts to more than a hill of beans, with revenues in 2017 of more than £12.5 million, making it one of the UK’s largest speciality coffee roasters. But it’s Union’s great taste and ability to deliver consistent quality that has singled it out as the coffee of choice on British Airways.
Founder Jeremy Torz said ““We’re delighted that British Airways is looking to bring a fantastic coffee experience to its Club World and First passengers. On our part, it’s tremendously exciting to be working with one of the world’s most trusted and prestigious brands.”
Harsh bitter flavours on the palate are exacerbated by altitude, and so getting a coffee blend that works well in an aircraft’s low pressure cabin is challenge. Union has developed a blend that, the company claims, works well at 35,000ft. The medium roast blend of Peruvian beans has “espresso-tasting notes of chocolate, pecan, and caramel”, which BA say will complement dishes served on board, such as the chocolate délice or warm bread and butter pudding.
Sarah Klatt-Walsh, British Airways’ Head of Product, said “We have put British brand, Union Coffee, through its paces with extensive taste testing and it works incredibly well at altitude, where richness, depth and complexity of flavour are critical as they cut through the affect of altitude on our taste buds. We believe it’ll be a real winner with customers made all the sweeter thanks to its responsible sourcing and British credentials, in line with our own.”
The upgrade in coffee is part of BA’s current £4.5 billion investment over the next few years that will usher in improvements in long-haul economy cabin catering, new seats, wifi and power at every seat, new interiors and 72 new aircraft.