Canada’s Tim Hortons Coffee Chain Tests Digital-Rich Upmarket Cafe

I am not sure what the double-double crowd (Canadians will know what I mean) will think of a new Tim Hortons location opening up in Toronto’s financial district tomorrow.

The Tim Hortons 130 King will be the company’s “first-ever innovation café.” It will have nitro-infused cold brew coffee, americanos, lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, cortados, macchiatos and all kinds of up-market coffee bar things more associated with Starbucks, local/regional coffee stops and guys who wear toques in the summer.

The store will also have (yes, there is a reason I am noting this) a very prominent digital menu board set-up, as well as a big 98-inch 4K greeter screen, and interactive ordering screens.

There is also a digital coffee education screen that will ‘splain the store and things like the new beverage innovations, brewing methods and seasonal single origin coffees

The 24-hour store is located in the Exchange Tower, just one floor below Tim Hortons head office (the bosses must’ve moved downtown from suburban Oakville, where most of the rank and file admin and IT people work).

The place is billed as a “modern interpretation of the Tim Hortons brand,” and a unique space to test new menu items and technology initiatives. There are a whole bunch of people who just want a regular Timmies and not a chi-chi foo-foo $6 something or other with “o” on the end, so the store will also have Original Blend and Timbits (little round donut balls). Riots might ensue otherwise …

The store’s digital stuff is being handled by Cineplex Digital Media, which has done the content for years and years and years for Timmies, but saw the digital menu board business go to Sicom one or two years ago. The chain’s new masters are legendary low-ballers.

It would be interesting if the software and playout hardware here is Cineplex (old EK3) again, and not Sicom. I have seen no end of dead screens in Timmies in the last year or so.

This may be the first “innovation cafe” but Timmies has been down the store of the future path before, like this one from 2014.