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Is Tim Hortons Still Canadian?


tim horton

A Brief History of Timmies

  • 1930 - Miles Gilbert "Tim" Horton is born. He goes on to play 24 seasons for the NHL, most of those for the Leafs, and was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players of all time.
  • 1964 - While still firmly in the middle of his NHL career, and in the same season that the Leafs won their THIRD consecutive Stanley Cup, Tim Horton opens his first 'Tim Horton Doughnut Shop' in Hamilton ON. 
  • 1974 - Tim Horton dies after losing control of his De Tomaso Pantera on the QEW near St Catherines. HIs business partner Ron Joyce buys out the remaining shares for $1M and takes over as sole owner of the 40 stores.
  • 1976 - The Timbit is launched.
  • 1995 - Wendy's International Inc. acquires Tim Hortons for $400M
  • 2006 - Wendy's spins Tim Hortons off as its own separate company again, and is listed on the TSX.
  • 2014 - Burger King acquires Tim Hortons for $12.5B, funded by 3G Capital, which owns 71% of Burger King. The new parent company is called Restaurant Brands International (RBI). The CCPA (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) analyzed the deal with 3G Capital and warned it, "likely to have overwhelmingly negative consequences for Canadians", noting that 3G Capital, "has a 30-year history of aggressive cost cutting, which could hurt employees, small businesses, Canadian taxpayers, and consumers."
  • 2018 - RBI refuses to allow price increases following the minimum wage increase, which results in less paid breaks and cuts to employee health plans. Tim Hortons falls from 13th to 67th on the list of 'Canada's Most Reputable Companies', one of the largest moves of all the companies on the list.
  • 2019 - Tim Hortons is named as one of the Top 5 plastic polluters in Canada. Their current cups are not compostable, and are very difficult to recycle.
  • 2020 and beyond - Tim Hortons is criticized for not offering sick leave pay for workers during the pandemic

tim hortons covid unpaid sick leave

So, is Tim Hortons Canadian?

Yes and no. It's owner, RBI, is an American-Canadian company, with its majority shareholder (3G Capital) based in Brazil. The main reason that 3G acquired Tim Hortons was to save over $1B in tax, by moving the combined company headquarters to Canada from the U.S., where they were paying a higher rate of corporation tax. Tim Hortons was (and still is) a money making machine, so they also saw an opportunity to implement the well known 3G strategy of aggressive cost cutting to drive profitability.

tim hortons american brazil flag

Has Public Opinion of Tim Hortons Changed the Perception of its Coffee?

After years of being the quintessential Canadian brand, renowned for its coffee, and community relations, opinions about the company, and the coffee, started to change after the Burger King deal. People started asking online if the coffee recipe had changed, is it weaker, is it too dark, is it burnt tasting?

Once upon a time, many years ago, Tim Hortons used to be supplied by large scale roaster, Mother Parkers, a 100+ year old family run company. They knew how to roast coffee back then, and they still do now.

In 2009 Tim Hortons opened its own roasting facility in Ancaster, to go along with its facility in Rochester, NY, to enable it to roast the majority of its coffee inhouse. 

Around the same time, Mother Parkers was supplying coffee to McDonald's restaurants for use in house and for bagged coffee. 

So yes, some of those rumours are true...

Prior to all of the changes in the business, Tim Hortons was seen as THE Canadian Coffee Experience, i.e. there wasn't much competition. Starbucks had 7% market share, Tim Hortons had 62%. Since then, as Tim Hortons' reputation took a dive, the specialty coffee market exploded, and Timmies was seen less as a Canadian icon, and more as just another coffee shop, with inevitable comparisons being made against better quality coffee.

tim hortons cups

How Has Tim Hortons Affected Canadian Coffee Tastes?

Even though Timmies sells a few flavoured coffees, there are only really two basic blends on offer, Original, and Dark. Oh, and there is also Bold, which is err.. darker?

Now as discussed in our article on roasting, when you roast coffee dark, it all starts to taste the same, as you lose the important qualities of the origin (i.e. where it's grown, the altitude, the processing etc). And when compared to specialty coffee, Tim Hortons roasts its 'medium' coffee quite dark, and its dark/bold coffee really dark. The effect of this is to create a coffee so dark and bitter that many customers need to add cream and sugar to make it palatable. Hence the infamous 'Double Double'. (Now added to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary)

As a result of the Double-Double's popularity, many people think that black coffee is supposed to be bitter, and refuse to drink it without cream or sugar, or both. Convincing people to try good quality coffee, just black, can be difficult.

Here at Black Creek Coffee we're on a journey to educate people about the amazing different flavours of coffee, and how it can be selected, roasted and brewed to make a wonderfully smooth and flavourful drink. I've used this analogy before, but it's like whisky. Cheap whisky needs a mixer, good whisky has an abundance of smooth flavour, neat or with a little water.

The other benefit to switching to good quality, specialty coffee are the health and fitness benefits too. Black coffee is zero calorie, and boosts energy. In contrast, a Double-Double has a chocolate bar's worth of sugar in it.

black creek coffee yellow lab espresso

Summary

You can still be a hockey playing, snow shoveling, poutine eating, chest thumping Canadian, while drinking great coffee! So put down the double double and the Beiber balls, and buy your coffee fresh from small, independent, Canadian owned roasters.

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7 comments


  • Hassan Saeed Farah

    Tim’s service has certainly declined, awefull, horrible. Mgmt Need to think about customer satisfaction. Unnecessary waiting time to be serve. Shortage of staff what’s going on. Lack of courtesy


  • Sarah Lourenco

    Tim’s used to be the place to work, unfortunately this is no longer the case. Everyone starting out in the work field have been warned not to work at Tim’s. they do employ a large amount of immigrants which is great but they are poorly trained and easy to be taken advantage of. The quality of the food and coffees have declined drastically since it was taken over by BK it’s not an unknown fact. What used to be a Canadian icon has fallen to the masses of greedy CEO’s and large corporations to mass produce. It’s just a very sad story all around.


  • Nancy St-jean

    I have always been a huge fan of Tim’s, unfortunately now it stinks of US.
    Everything that country touches goes belly up…
    Very disappointed at the Horton family, didn’t realize they could be bought so easily.
    Just shows how little they cared for us Canadians….


  • Lina

    I was disappointed in learning that Tim Horton’s treats their staff so badly. I do drink double double, but I wish Timmies was still all Canadian.


  • Lesley Manion

    Since bought by burger king, Tim Norton’s has gotten really slow . 10 people semi working in the drive thrue, and maybe 1 on the front but tries to be in the drive thrue as well . Tim’s service is awefull, horrible.


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