The coffees in my life fall into a number of fairly broad groups. There is cafe coffee; stuff that you get from places that more or less claim some expertise in making coffee, generally involving an espresso machine with some exceptions. Then hotel and conference coffee; some form of liquid of uncertain character from some kind of urn or coffee machine. And then there is whatever coffee you might make yourself, using any number of means.
Aeroplane coffee is probably best compared with conference or hotel coffee. While it has nothing on a decent espresso from a good coffee, it can still be compared to other similar beverages. It is kind of unfair to expect Virgin Australia to load a commercial espresso machine onto one of their planes flying between Brisbane and Sydney. After a few too many morning flights I can say that the coffee does seem to vary. The temperature it is served at seems to vary depending on where you sit on the plane (or possibly due to other factors) and the coffee seems to be brewed with milk coffee drinkers in mind. As a kind of conference or hotel coffee, it is not too bad. Its flavour is mostly unoffensive, and once you wait for it to cool when it is served too hot, it is drinkable.
Ultimately it is coffee served while sitting in a flying metal tube travelling at hundreds of kilometres an hour in a manner that has become so mundane that most people around you barely glance out of the window to take in a perspective of the landscape experienced by so few humans during the lifetime of our species. So I guess you can make a few concessions on quality.
- Quality seems variable
- It is coffee served while sitting in a fast moving metal tube flying in the air. It is hard to be too critical.