Tim Hortons is a Canadian institution. It was one of the first places that I was inducted into when I went to Canada with Connie and it is the first place we go when we arrive. Their coffee is great, but you go for the coffee and you stay for the doughnuts. The doughnuts are worth a flight price on their own. If you don't like a Chocolate Dip then we don't have a future as friends. When we lived in Texas we specifically went to Tim's three times in New York City on a trip, finding out the hard way that US Tim Hortons are a bit shit.
It is interesting how places around the world have their places - the UK has Greggs which is as close to Tims as we have here. It does cheap coffee, good cakes and sandwiches, and a few other things - even the slogans are similar now. "Always fresh" is Tim's, "Always fresh" is Greggs'! It is a match made in heaven.
This week saw the new owners of Tim's announced that they are planning a rapid expansion into the UK. Arguably, they're quite late to the game - Costa and Starbucks are slowly creeping out their drive-through coffee shops, with Costa getting there first. There is a chance Tim's could work better than their last attempt. The last time they tried was through in-shop stalls in Spars all over the UK, and it was subpar frozen doughnuts and weak coffee. Kinda like those Krispy Kreme doughnut stands at service stations.
The expansion of Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme shops has probably spurred the owners on to expand into the UK, but there are a few pitfalls that they could drop into that would make their arrival a bit disappointing.
Key to Tim's massive success in Canada is the coffee. The coffee is cheap, strong, and always ready. They don't grind the beans as you wait in line, they have pots brewed and kept warm, and are thrown away after 20 minutes on the hot plate. It makes a mockery of the glacial pace that a Costa drive through has. That has to pass across to the UK. Additionally the price must pass over. I don't mean exactly the same price, but I mean at least in the same ball park. The price should be around £1 a small, which would undercut the places they're probably going to struggle to get traction against like Starbucks, but would push them up against Greggs, their true competition.
The rest of the things they need are the range of doughnuts which I expect will pass over directly, but also the sandwiches, soups (chicken noodle better come over or they will feel the wrath of my wife) and the sizes of the coffees - small, medium, large, extra large... and the lingo too, like double double, single, black...
Basically, it has an impossible set of expectations that us Canadian-coffee lovers will require it to meet. Instead, maybe they will focus on their expansion. I fully expect £2.20 coffees and £3 doughnuts. And i'll be sad.
But I'll still go.