Roasting Tim Hortons’ new Dark Roast Coffee

Photo by Paige Bush

Love them or hate them, Tim Hortons has held a monopoly on the Canadian coffee ideal for forever and a day. Coupled with a sour cream glazed Timbit, nothing better embodies the image of mornings at the hockey rink, celebrating the essence of what it means to be Canadian.

At least, that’s what their incredibly successful advertising department will tell you.

Tim Hortons is a division of Restaurant Brands International.

Tim Hortons is a corporate mechanization bent on sap-sucking dollars from your pocket through the romanticization of a constructed national identity.

Tim Hortons is a purveyor of reheated, mass-produced donut sludge and filthy, bland grounds.

And, as of March 2017, Tim Hortons is the proud father of a new Dark Roast Coffee Blend. Their advertising claims: Because of You.

This is an obscene personalization of a commercial imperative. Yes, they have come out with a new blend because of you, the customer, but it’s merely a calculated response to a violent awakening in the public as more and more premium coffee shops of actual quality product open on every street corner, challenging their monopoly.

Unfortunately for Tim Hortons, the public has discovered something called ‘good taste.’ They now crave the ethically sourced story of the beans, a journey that sings upon the taste buds, beating with varied notes like cherry and allspice.

In true Hortonsian fashion, they’ve dumbed down the story, leaving only the essential, vehicular beats: “Our premium 100 per cent Arabica beans are roasted.” Bravo.

I sit on a wooden slab, steaming cup of black, virulent piss-water releasing the essence of quote unquote coffee into the air in hot, vaporous waves. I am performing an imperative for the good of the public.

I am engaging with the new Tim Hortons Dark Roast Coffee; the #TIMSDARK beaming from glowing advertisements that hover obtrusively around my body.

In a sniff, I receive muted notes of … biscuit? The scent is so weak it’s hard to tell. It doesn’t smell like dark roast coffee — it barely smells like anything at all.

On the tongue, there’s a brief splash of bitterness. It immediately overwhelms the senses, like an anesthesia, to disguise any other hint of flavour. In an instant, it’s all gone.

The conclusion is simple:

Tim Hortons doesn’t know what dark roast coffee is supposed to taste like. Tim Hortons appears to have narrowed down the concept of ‘Dark Roast’ to being an embodiment of bitterness — a vehicle for caffeine that numbs the mouth. This is an IPA without notes; this is garlic bread without garlic.

What needs to be remembered is that Tim Hortons is not a celebration of flavour — it isn’t a farm-to-table journey or any other romantic endeavour.

What Tim Hortons is, is a 14-year-old’s first job. It’s a shitty double-double to get you through a day of work after a night of drinking. It’s a stale bagel with a poorly-spread, dissipating gradient of herb and garlic cream cheese at 3:00 in the morning. It’s cooking a frozen potato in a toaster oven and calling it hashbrowns.

The new #TimsDark, in relative consideration, is not awful. It’s boringly bitter. It’s a forgettable cup of coffee that isn’t really going to change anyone’s mind about the restaurant. It’s better than their regular joe, and I guess it’s better than their old dark roast. Maybe that’s enough.

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