Twelve new "dream" donuts, seven coffee brewing methods, premium sandwiches and wraps - that's what's on the menu at Tim Hortons new one-of-a-kind Innovation Café, Tim Hortons 130 King at Exchange Tower (also home to their new headquarters). The café saw lineups down the block when it first opened in late July; hardly a surprise, given that the company says about 80% of all Canadians visit a Tims at least once a month (no wonder we're on a first-name basis). We spoke with Axel Schwan, Tim Hortons Global Chief Marketing Officer, to ask him our most burning questions.
What are these new "dream" donuts?
AXEL SCHWAN: The base of the new "dream" donuts is our standard donut that you'll find across the country. What we did is invent new glazes and new fondants. We are using sprinkles that we have never used before, we're working with freshly caramelized bacon for our maple bacon donut. There's a brown butter and sea salt donut, a blueberry hibiscus donut. We're using a blow torch to do our crème brûlée donut. Think of it: you dip the donut into sugar and then caramelize it with this blow torch; we do this fresh in our open kitchen.
And the Timbits, how many new Timbit flavors are there?
We have a birthday explosion Timbit, infused with Nutella. Then we have a coffee crumble Timbit - it's a little bit crunchy -and a Cookies N' Cream and chocolate truffle Timbit.
Sounds delish. Tell us, what elements of the Innovation Café will feel unfamiliar to us?
The beauty of this space is that it will feel familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Why will it feel familiar? Because we are celebrating our three big passions: donuts, hockey, and coffee. But you will probably be surprised by the La Marzocco espresso machine right on the counter. It just looks stunning. It's a beautiful machine.
There's an environmental innovation aspect here, can you tell us a bit about that?
As a brand we are really obsessed with sustainability. In this space we are trying new things to see if they can be expanded across the country. We have, for example, our takeaway cup, made from 30% post-consumer recycled material. We have our new hot cup lid, which is 100% recyclable. We also have a new cold cup sip lid that will allow us not to use straws anymore. It will take millions of straws out of the environment once we launch this nationally, which is the plan.
Can we expect any more Innovation Cafés like this one in other urban centres?
We are really focusing on this location for now. There's still a lot to learn for us in terms of operations. The beauty is that our office [Tim Hortons HQ] is right above the restaurant, so we can learn in real time what our guests really enjoy and love. We're probably going to do this for a couple months and learn as much as we can, and then we can maybe start thinking about expanding in the future.