Being in the middle of a work trip to Berlin and London at the moment, I was again reminded of how far we’ve come with in-flight catering. The food can be quite tasty. For example, I had a crispy croissant, flavoursome satay, and a superb steak in the last 24 hours. However, one aspect of the meals is a constant disappointment: the hot drinks.
Both the coffee and tea still taste like they did 20 years ago. Any Melbourne cafe serving that quality of beverage would be out of business so fast that you’ve only have enough time to ask for your soy-decaf-mocha and it would be gone. Surely it’s time the standard can be lifted a little? Maybe even to Starbucks level? I’m not expecting that Degraves St cafes will be transported into the air immediately.
One possible reason is pressurisation. Apparently modern aircraft are pressurised to the equivalent of 2,500m altitude. This is for safety reasons, and I expect also saves on fuel. But water boils at a lower temperature at altitude, and maybe this defeats any ambition of a decent cup.
Ironically, coffee beans grown at high altitude attract a premium, as does coffee roasted at altitude. And the world’s premier tea plantations are also at altitude. This raises the obvious question: if these people are making the best tea and coffee – do they actually drink it? Or, do they need to head down to the lowlands to brew a cup of caffiene heaven? Surely not.
Well, whatever they’re doing, the airlines need to find it out. And fast! I’ve got another three flights in the next week, and I’ll need a decent coffee fix…