In my 2011 Coffee rankings I ranked Country Style coffee at #8 out of 11, and my comments to justify my ranking were this;
“Country Style comes in at number 8 because it used to have good coffee, much better than Coffee Time, but no longer. Country Style sponsors the Toronto Rock Lacrosse team, however Tim Horton’s coffee is served at the Air Canada Centre. There is a Country Style near my office and the 3 times I have gone there to get something, I have been disappointed every time. The first time was for donuts – the selection was terrible – the second time was for a coffee – it was bitter and stale – and the third time was for a cold drink on a very hot day and that drink was barely adequate. So for a chain with new colours and large, spacious locations, they need to conduct some more product testing to see what people will actually buy. Very disappointing.”
As a result of this post – and I wanted to be fair, not bitchy to them, I received this following comment from the kind folks at Country Style;
“Hi Urban Daddy,
Country Style here, and we are sorry to hear that your last three experiences at our location have not reached your expectations. Of course, it is very important to us that our customers always have the most positive experience when visiting a Country Style. If possible, we would like to get some more information from you on the location that you visited. Would you mind emailing us at CoffeeLover@countrystyle.ca
Thanks very much,
So I don’t have to mention how impressed I am with this response do I? I love that organizations use social media and I love that it took these folks no time to publicly reach out and express their concern.
Writing that opinion of Country Style, and it is my opinion, bothered me at the time because I want nothing more than for all local businesses, especially Canadian ones to succeed at all costs. I love the new colours of Country Style, and I love that they sponsor the Toronto Rock – a team I have had seasons tickets for, for since their first year in Toronto.
So here is what I am going to do…
Next week, I am going to march back into that store, and try a lot of stuff, so when I give my feedback to the kind folks there, I know that it’s timely and well researched. Now to be fair, I was there in the past month, so my views on their hot and cold drinks are both recent and obviously memorable, but I don’t want – nor do I think I can – influence your decision when you are looking for a cup of coffee. For me personally, the local Country Style is the closest coffee shop to my office and since I regularly buy coffee for myself, my staff and for meetings, I’m going to give them another look and see what turns up.
For those of you who may be unaware, here are some facts about Country Style, courtesy Wikipedia, of course.
Country Style has been in business since 1963 when it opened its first location in Toronto. By 1974 there were 50 stores when it was the leading coffee and donut establishment in Canada above Tim Hortons (which passed it two years later). By 2001, Country Style had been forced to close a quarter of its stores due to decreasing market share in an increasingly competitive Canadian market. Since then, it has opened many new stores and currently ranks third behind Tim Horton’s and Starbucks in the Canadian coffee market.
In 2006, Country Style changed its image to a more upscale style: “Country Style Bistro Deli”. The new image includes a new logo, a new website, and an enhanced branded deli menu that phased into their stores. The change was made to compete more with Starbucks than Tim Horton’s however providing a wider range of soups, sandwiches, salads and wraps. If you didn’t know that, you were not the only one.
Country Style has been partnered with the Make a Wish foundation since 2003, and have raised over $1,000,000 for the organization which is a LOT of coffee sold.
So take the Country Style challenge with me, and let me know what you thought, and I’ll make sure all comments are posted. My Country Style is in Richmond Hill, Ontario and I’m going there Monday!