The Best Coffee Shops in Major Airports

The Best Coffee Shops in Major Airports

As an airline pilot, I spend a significant amount of time in airports. While there are plenty of mediocre corporate coffee shops, I’ve made it my mission to find the true gems that serve exceptional coffee. My focus is on black coffee, as it is the true measure of a good coffee shop. If they can make good drip coffee, they can usually make great specialty drinks too.

LAX (Los Angeles International Airport)

Alfred Coffee (Terminal 3, near Gates 35 and 37)

LAX is my base airport, and so far, the best coffee I’ve found here is at Alfred Coffee in Terminal 3, near Gates 35 and 37. Alfred is an LA staple with numerous shops around town, known for their “But first, coffee” slogan. They offer a variety of high-quality coffee and tea options, and their black coffee is consistently excellent. Alfred prides itself on sourcing beans from some of the best roasters and serving meticulously brewed coffee. The ambiance is cozy and welcoming, featuring stylish decor and comfortable seating, making it a perfect spot to relax before a flight. Additionally, Alfred offers a selection of delicious pastries and snacks, ensuring you can grab a bite to eat along with your coffee.

SFO (San Francisco International Airport)

Sidewalk Juice (Terminal 3, across from Gate F11)

Sidewalk Juice in Terminal 3, across from Gate F11, is a fantastic spot for a great cup of coffee at SFO. They serve Verve Coffee, known for its high quality and rich flavor. In addition to their excellent black coffee, Sidewalk Juice offers a variety of juices, pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and waffles. It’s a perfect place to grab a quick, delicious breakfast and a superb cup of coffee before your flight.

DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport)

Ampersand (Terminal C)

Ampersand in Terminal C is a standout spot at DFW. They are dedicated to crafting high-quality coffee with a focus on sustainability and ethical sourcing. Their black coffee is robust and flavorful, providing a perfect pick-me-up during a layover. The staff are passionate about coffee and happy to share their knowledge, making it a great place for coffee enthusiasts.

Ampersand also has three locations across Dallas: Uptown, Fort Worth, and Oak Lawn. Each location maintains the same commitment to quality and offers a welcoming atmosphere for coffee lovers.

PHX (Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport)

Cartel Coffee Lab (Terminal 4, next to Gate C13, across from Gate C12)

Cartel Coffee Lab is located in Terminal 4, next to Gate C13 and across from Gate C12, making it a convenient stop for travelers passing through the Southwest Terminal at PHX. Known for their commitment to quality and their meticulous approach to coffee roasting, Cartel Coffee Lab offers a superb black coffee that stands out in the crowded airport coffee scene.

PDX (Portland International Airport)

Stumptown Coffee (Main Terminal, just inside security)

Portland International Airport is home to one of the best coffee experiences you can find in an airport: Stumptown Coffee. Located in the main terminal just inside security, Stumptown is known for its dedication to quality and sustainable sourcing. They have built a reputation as one of the pioneers of the third-wave coffee movement. Their black coffee is a testament to their meticulous approach to roasting and brewing, offering a rich, balanced, and flavorful cup.

Stumptown’s presence in PDX ensures that travelers can enjoy a premium coffee experience right at the airport. The baristas are knowledgeable and passionate, ready to share insights about their coffee and help you find the perfect brew. Whether you’re a coffee aficionado or just looking for a great cup of coffee, Stumptown at PDX is a must-visit.

I’ll continue updating this blog as I discover more amazing coffee shops in airports around the world. If you have any recommendations, feel free to share them!

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