Is Starbucks pushing their Blonde on the Tim Hortons crowd?

Coffee wars are brewing, again


You know how Tim Hortons decided to make “lattes” in an effort to woo some of the sophisticated sorts from Starbucks? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that not long after Starbucks began advertising how their drinks are “handcrafted beverages” rather than, say, from a machine that dispenses a drink with a push of a button. Now Starbucks is releasing a “Blonde” roast that promises to be “lighter, mellower and more subtle” than their bold and medium blends. You know what that sounds like? It sounds a lot like an attempt to compete with Tim’s black water roast, if you ask me.

But wait! There’s more! In a video featured prominently on both the American and Canadian Starbucks websites, a couple of the company’s Master Roasters talk about the lighter blend (in the same ernest way that the potato farmer talks about his tots in that McDonalds commercial): “It kind of dances on your tongue in a different way than any other Starbucks coffee,” says one of them. (Yeah, “different,” as in like the coffee Tim Hortons makes.) The other roaster suggests, “It’s for the person who always wished that Starbucks had a roast like this.” (Uh, like in “the person” who gets their cup of joe from Tim Hortons?) Even a Starbucks blog post about the new roast has their Global Coffee category manager admitting that, “while [my dad] treasures his morning coffee, [he] typically finds some of our coffees a little too dark for his tastes.”  (Boom. Everybody’s dad loves Tim Hortons.)

I wanted to do a taste test between the Blonde roast and a cup of Tim’s, but the new light blend won’t be brewed in Canadian Starbucks locations until February 7. Stay tuned.

And by the by, my coffee allegiance was recently revealed at one of those On the Go 401 rest stops. I picked up my tall bold roast from Starbucks and then crossed the food court to get in line for a dozen donuts from Tim’s.




Is Starbucks pushing their Blonde on the Tim Hortons crowd?

  1. I got a free sample from The Starbucks on Bathurst and St Clair, while I’m not a light roast fan, the blonde is very drinkable.

  2. I got a free sample of the Blonde last week. It was quite good – a lighter roast does not necessarily mean less flavourful. You could actually argue that Starbucks’ regular roasts are over-roasted for the purposes of giving them a distinctly strong taste that Starbucks uses to convince people that that is what “good” coffee should taste like.

    Tim Horton’s coffee is not just flourvless, it actually tastes really bad. I don’t know what they do to it, or where they source it, but it is undrinkable. No other decent coffee (Starbucks, Second Cup, McDonalds) compares to its wretchedness.

    • Each to their own, I guess. I’m a Tim’s guy myself. The McDonald’s coffee is pretty good and I don’t mind the odd Second Cup, but every Starbucks I’ve had tasted burned. Maybe it’s ‘cuz I drink coffee, not the fancy coffee-based beverages that Starbuck’s specializes in, but for me paying premium prices for attitude and burnt coffee just isn’t the way I want to go.

  3. I tried a sample of the Blonde when I was at CB2 last weekend.  It was okay, but like most other people, I prefer a bolder taste.

  4. Interesting, but I don’t think Tim’s is the intended target of their marketing–I would say it’s McDonald’s. Starbucks was unexpectedly sucked into a coffee war with them several years ago when the former started offering “premium” upscale coffee selections and opening McCafes. Starbucks countered by creating breakfast sandwiches. Both are cannibalising each other’s market, and it’s going to be worse as McDonald’s is renovating most of its sites to resemble Starbucks. The Blonde roast seems like Starbucks’ trying offer a McDonald’s-like roast. The late introduction of the Blonde to Canadian markets may be further proof that Tim’s is not the intended hit of this marketing push. http://money.msn.com/investment-advice/mcdonalds-or-starbucks-who-wins-brush.aspx

  5. You should be able to get a cup of Blonde today. Just ask for one to be brewed.

  6. waaaaaaaaay better than Tim Horton’s watered down coffee.  and yes the blonde roast does linger/dance on the edges of your tongue unlike Timmies which tastes like garbage.

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