Tim Hortons and the UK - A Long Overdue Review

Way back in 2016, it was announced that the awesome Canadian staple coffee shop was coming to the UK. I wrote about it wile salivating, thinking that it could be very unlikely to match the expectations I had of it. I wrote about things I thought that it had to be able to match, to make sure that it was a success in the overcrowded market that is the UK Coffee Chain land grab.

And, largely, Tim Hortons in the UK has managed it. Against all odds, it’s actually found a space in the market that it can largely manage to keep and maybe win in. Let’s take apart what I wanted and fill in the gaps.

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. So this is what I thought was absolutely key - the coffee market is filled with bullshit Costa and Starbucks wankers taking hours over making the coffee in front of you. Did Tee Hos in the UK manage to beat this? No. Not really. In fact, the biggest issue is the ordering system - we will come to that - but in reality, the coffee should be a lot quicker and it is just sitting there. At least if you go for the basic brewed coffee. They also offer a raft of other types - Espressos and such - which makes a lot of sense knowing what they are up against. The coffee is, however, fucking perfect. Dark roast and all.

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. As I speak, this is one of the places they are excelling at. The price of a small is around £1.29, and is £1.79 for a large. Boy oh boy that is good prices for what I consider to be the best high street coffee you can get in the UK.

They need are the range of doughnuts which I expect will pass over directly. The range of donuts (see, using the “correct spelling” now) is pretty solid. The main stays are mostly there - the Chocolate Dip, Boston Cream, Maple Glaze, Old Fashioned Glaze. The names are also the same, which is nice for ex-pats like Con and experienced cool guys like me. There is a weird choice - Apple Fritter for some reason is over. But the key one they were missing was Honey Crueller, which appeared shortly after the launch and is, by all accounts, a smash hit. Timbits made it too, but the range is quite diminished - the franchises in Canada all have their own wee spins on the Timbit and that is yet to really make it to the UK, but maybe one day it will.

Also the sandwiches, soups (chicken noodle better come over or they will feel the wrath of my wife). This is where we start to get into the bad things that the UK Timmies has. The food has, explicably, been modified into something very different. The sandwiches and wraps are a bit shit. In fact, it’s very terrible. The chicken wraps are tasteless and burnt and expensive and crap. And each meal comes with wedges that are probably a version of the fries/crisps you get at McDonald’s/Subway. It is a strange choice, and you can’t sub in a donut like you can in Canada.

The other thing they’ve fucked is the breakfasts. They are great on paper, but they haven’t managed to get the greasiness of the cheese or the heat of the sandwiches, but the big thing is that the sausage just doesn’t match it. Anytime I’ve had one I’ve been disappointed, which isa goddam shame - as Breakfast Sandwiches are my fucking jam in Canada.

What else? Loads. The ordering, as I mentioned, is poor. One teller takes the order and you are given a number and you have to wait. In Canada, sure you have to wait - but there is about ten times the number of staff working and as such it is so much faster. Despite having the coffee on the pot ready to go they have to take ages on the staff to get it ready to pour. What’s the point?

Also, £2 for a bagel and cream cheese? Mate. Maaaaaate.

Basically, getting a fix of Tims is brilliant, and now we can do it anytime we fancy really, and it won’t break the bank, and to be honest - that’s ideal. Ideal. My final point was a self-detead final sentence. 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.

Well, they didn’t. And I’m not sad. Jackpot.