Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Canadian institution

Some people call it a Canadian institution. At least one person I know calls it a cult. Whatever you call it, it’s undeniable that Tim Horton’s is huge. Back in my university days, I was a Second Cup girl. Tim Horton’s was just a doughnut shop, and didn’t have the atmosphere or fun factor that other coffee shops did. That was before I tried their coffee. Once I did, I knew why Tim Horton’s was so popular! Their coffee is the best I’ve ever had, and is less expensive than other coffee chains.

Like those commercials where Tim Horton’s has accompanied people on road trips, hockey games, and other important life events, for me, Tim Horton’s has been a trusted companion on many journeys. For years, I have started my day with a Tim Horton’s coffee. Not only do I buy cans of Tim Horton’s coarse grind coffee for my coffeemaker at home, but every morning, I also get into my car and drive to the local Tim Horton’s. It can be quite the production. Call me crazy, but I have driven in snowstorms and torrential rain to get my morning Tim’s, and waited in massive line-ups.

In Hamilton, Tim Horton’s lines almost every street corner, and I always looked forward to my daily drive-thru. Now that I am in Toronto again, my local Tim Horton’s is not a drive-thru, but is part of an Esso On the Run store. I think it has to be the worst parking lot ever. It’s a free-for-all at that parking lot, where you just park anywhere you can and hope no-one says anything about the fact that you have parked at a gas pump, but aren’t getting gas. As much as I hate the parking lot, it still doesn't deter me from going every morning for my cuppa joe. The workers know me now and I usually don’t have to give them my order anymore. “Always the same coffee, you don’t change it,” one worker joked with me recently. I shrug my shoulders a little in disappointment when I get my coffee poured from an almost-empty pot - a full pot is so much better! Yes, my coffee is serious business. Even though the parking lot and line-ups are annoying, when I get my extra large regular in my hand and take the first sip, all is right with the world again.

Apparently, the long lineups and horrible parking lot don't deter others, either. The other day, I walked into my local Tim Horton’s. The line-up was really long, and reached almost to the back of the store. People sighed in resignation and looked at their watches, and then ahead enviously to the front of the line. Behind me, a man turned to the woman behind him. “I have a bus to catch,” he said, chuckling. “Well, it’s either my coffee or the bus,” he laughed. Now that's dedication! “There’s always another bus,” the woman laughed in reply, implying that there may be another bus, but there’s no other Tim Horton’s. I can’t help but agree.


  1. I'm not such a dedicated fan - to me, no coffee tastes better than the cup I make every morning with fresh boiling water through my little #2 manual dripper.

    But - Tim's is an institution, and I can't imagine a road trip without it. I'll never forget one Christmas morning - my girls and I had left Windsor, dropped a gift of to a friend in Tecumseh and were getting on the road to make the long journey to St. Catharines to my family. We went by a Tim's and were surprised to see a line of cars at the drive through. Hooray! So we went over and joined the line. It took several minutes before everyone finally clued in that it wasn't open! Everyone just followed the lead of the first person in line, who must have had a red face! (Or had played an effective trick - or social experiement - on the rest of us!

  2. That's a great story, Jen! So funny that Tim's was closed, but yet the long line was still there. :) I can't imagine a road trip without Tim's, either. I know people who go to the U.S. sometimes, and as soon as they cross the border back to Canada, the first place they go is Tim's!