Here are my 2010 coffee shop rankings. These rankings are based mainly on the following criteria; taste, price, freshness and also on a few other intangibles, such as snacks, cash and perks.
1. Tim Horton’s
2. Java Joe’s
4. Country Style
5. Second Cup
7. Coffee Time
So how did I come to this conclusion??? Easily.
For the value, taste and freshness, Timmy’s wins out. Their roll up the rim contest rocks and the staff at pretty much every location are friendly. You can get yogurt, bagels, and yummy chili and good soups. A visit there won’t break the bank, and in some areas they seem to be on every block. Sure the staff rarely stir the coffee, but for $1.56 for a large… You can’t go wrong. And where else would I be able to say, I’ll have a large double double, please”, and get a smile and a “yes sir”. Also, I recommend trying the blueberry bagel with lite strawberry cream cheese… Very yummy.
Java Joe’s made my list at number 2 because one opened up near my office and I find I go there often and get a bang for my buck. First they take debit which Timmy’s doesn’t and their food is much better; organic teas, great flavours of coffee like Jamaica Mistake and Raspberry Chocolate. Their hot food portions are very large, flavourful and reasonably priced. The staff are great and the place (at least near my office) has cool tables and chairs and a flat screen TV which you can watch while sitting next to the built in fireplace.
Starbucks, while pricey, and serves very strong coffee, does have great Cafe Americano’s for slightly more than the price of a regular coffee (but I have not been there in the past couple weeks and rumour has it that there was a price increase over that time). At the suggestion of the barista at my local S’bux, I got hooked on having the Americano with a pump of mocha (free if you have a convenience card) and during the holidays I added a pump of mint too. Plus, their give you a coupon for a free anything if you don’t like your drink, or waiting too long for it AND, often offer free samples. Their oatmeal is the perfect treat for a toddler as is their cheese plate (although really pricey). My kids love the wooden stir sticks (sticks) and the automatic doors. It’s nice to be able to sit at Starbucks and be noticed. My wife and I have a term – a Guterman - which means, sitting at S’Bux looking busy but doing sweet fuck all… Ahhh, the life. Especially in the summer.
Country Style has good coffee and interesting treats which are not outstanding but if you are hungry and cheap, hits the spot. I have often walked in to have a coffee there because I feel sorry they don’t do a better job getting their brand out. When fresh their coffee is as good as anyone, but come in during a quiet period and as you drink it you understand why the low price…
Second Cup would normally rank behind Timothy’s because I hate their old, bitter coffee and stupidly high prices for this crap – but I had a coffee there today (first in months) that was half Butter Pecan (their best flavour) and half Holiday Blend. Sure I needed 4 sugars but it was actually quite good. They need to find a way to keep their coffee fresher – I doubt they would have the traffic to keep making new pots every 15 minutes like Tim Horton’s but they could try picking a flavour and for that specialty flavour, they will make a fresh post every 15 minutes and see what the responses from their customers are. The other main issue Second Cup needs to address is their choice of coffees. Normally they have 5 or 6 different types. One decaf, one is a medium and one is a strong. There is a mild – something like a Paradiso (whatever the heck that means) and then the flavour… I hate Irish Cream!!! Detest it! That is usually their one flavoured coffee and when asked why, I was told, it is because it is popular… No shit! It’s the one fucking flavour, and people don’t like stale, overpriced swill, so they get the flavour that needs lots of cream and sugar to cover the bitterness. I’d recommend they keep Butter Pecan and Caramelo in high rotation – as everyone knows that flavoured coffees need less sugar and cream to mask staleness or bitterness, which means less costs. They only offer sweets and I can’t eat those after piling all that sugar into my drink.
Another advantage the Second Cup is not taking advantage of is the space they have in most of their shops which they could totally utilize to capitalize on families by offering a safe environment for kids and snacks under 5000 calories – something healthy, possibly?!? Seriously, a place for parents to take their kids after dinner to hang out and buy healthy treats might save a few locations… Better than being empty, eh?
Timothy’s… Poor, poor Timothy’s. I thought they were already out of business. There used to be one near my home, which I went two less than 5 times (hence why they are gone) The Timothy’s large coffee is HUGE and expensive, the coffee is watered down and terrible and most of the locations need to bring in “other” items in order to make money – like my local one sells handmade jewellery… The only coffee I can drink there is the toasted coconut because it’s toasted taste covers the fact that the pot has been sitting there all day. Brutal. I always feel like I’m wasting money once I leave one. They seriously need to merge with a US company and re-brand all their stores… That would bring them back from the dead. I should Google “Seattle’s Best Coffee” and see if they have any extra cash. Shouldn’t cost that much… Then again… Seattle’s best aint that great either. I tried one of those in Newark’s NJ airport… yawn.
Coffee Time… A very fringe coffee shop, usually open 24 hours, filled with riff raff and in that hideous orange colour (although some newer ones are brown). It’s never a place to take a family at night – even creepy during the day. It’s that place you like to run into if you really need coffee, but don’t intend on staying… or… go, but don’t flash any money or look like you have anything of value on you.
Honourable mention to McDonald’s coffee which I tried last year when they were offering it for free. Even with that I wasn’t sure if it was worth it. I will have to try it again for the first time.
What are your thoughts on my rankings??