The Real Reason Tim Hortons' Coffee Tastes Different

Canada's quintessential fast food brand, Tim Hortons, was once renowned for its coffee. This makes sense when you consider they've been selling it since 1964 (via Tim Hortons). Unfortunately, what was once considered the best fast food coffee available in the Great White North just isn't any longer. According to HuffPost, one out of three Tim Hortons customers says their opinion of the chain is worsening. Not only that, but in 2018 the coffee and doughnut chain dropped from 4th to 50th in a survey of Canadian's most admired brands (via The Star). But does this have to do with the coffee itself, or with something else?

According to some, this shift started when the chain was bought by Burger King in 2014 (via The New York Times). It was, after all, around that time that Reddit users began asking if the chain had changed its coffee recipe, or observing that the coffee tasted weaker than usual (via Reddit). However, there is no concrete proof that they changed their coffee recipe around that time. Instead, what definitely changed was public opinion.

How public opinion of Tim Hortons changed the opinion of its coffee

After decades of cultivating a brand focussed on Canadiana and connection to local communities (from sponsoring hockey to opening stores on Canadian military bases overseas), the focus of the corporation suddenly shifted to international markets (via The Guardian). When the Burger King deal was announced, Tim Hortons chief executive Marc Caira stated: "Tim Hortons should very clearly be a global brand. With Burger King and 3G, I can definitely get there faster." This might have been where the brand started falling off in the public eye.

What was once seen as a cultural cornerstone invested in its community, Tim Hortons suddenly became just another chain looking to expand and make money. But it wasn't just the new international focus; Tim Hortons had some further bad press when franchise owners in Ontario cut paid breaks and certain employee benefits to offset the province's increased minimum wage, which many community members took personally (via The Star). Believe it or not, that shift in customer perspective was enough to extend to the coffee itself. Previously a uniquely Canadian coffee experience, Tim Hortons was now seen as just a fast food coffee shop, and their coffee was suddenly being judged in comparison to other global chains, and it just wasn't as good.