Long ago, the donut shop was a simple place. You’d grab a cup of joe and an unhealthy breakfast and get on with your day (and in my head, like 80 percent of the customers were private detectives). Not anymore. Starbucks re-established the baseline for what passes as coffee, and independent donut shops turned a crappy breakfast staple into Instagrammable indulgences. As a result, donut chains have changed too. Dunkin’ dropped “Donut” entirely. Just yesterday, Krispy Kreme unveiled its new store of the future. And today, Tim Hortons has announced that they’re going to be hipper, too: The Canada-based brand is opening its first “innovation cafe.”
Billed as “a modern interpretation of the Tim Hortons brand” and “a unique space to test new menu items and technology initiatives” located in the same building as the brand’s head office, this “Tim Hortons 130 King” cafe — which opens on Thursday, July 25 — practically has more new stuff than I can mention: new donuts, new coffees, new Timbits cakes, new food, new décor, new tech, new sustainability. “We want Tim Hortons 130 King to become a must-visit destination for Torontonians and for guests from other cities not just throughout Canada, but around the world,” explained company President Alex Macedo, summing up the ambitions of the project.
Let’s start with the donuts, because who doesn’t like donuts? Tim Hortons has come up with 12 new Dream Donuts including options like the very Canadian maple bacon donut which is “dipped in icing made from Canadian maple syrup and topped with candied bacon” to classy options like a blueberry hibiscus donut that’s “dipped in a hibiscus flower icing and topped with dried blueberries.” And if you can limit yourself to just 11, Tim Hortons suggests the new Dream Donut tower: “a custom selection of 11 Dream Donuts and four Dream Timbits stacked to resemble a tiered cake.”
Of course, you can’t wash fancy donuts like that down with just any coffee, so Tim Hortons 130 King offers a mind-boggling number of caffeinated options. Baristas have seven different coffee brewing methods to choose from — pour over, espresso, nitrogen gas, cold brew, etc., etc. — many of which can be used in tangent with the brand’s new single-origin coffee program. Sound confusing? Don’t worry, one of the many tech innovations listed is “a digital coffee education screen [that] will share the Tim Hortons 130 King coffee story featuring new beverage innovations, brewing methods and seasonal single origin coffees.” Or just keep things simple with the new Tim Hortons draft latte.
All of this appears to just scratch the surface. Even the most notoriously polite Canadian might have trouble listening to all the changes: a dedicated mobile order pickup area and self-order kiosks, takeout cutlery that is 100 percent compostable, lobster bisque! Basically, if you’re in Toronto, go to this Tim Hortons…. Actually, no, go to a different Tim Hortons first and then come to this one so you can appreciate all the differences.