Oh hey! Me again! I would love to call myself Julie’s sidekick, lets just roll with it. What’s she going to do, edit it out?! A few weeks ago, Julie asked me if I was interested to attend an event for her- since the event departure location was downtown Toronto and we probably wouldn’t be getting back until late. When she sent me the details of attending a private tour of the Tim Horton’s coffee roasting facility, I answered with a rather inappropriate comment (lets just say it rhymes with bells) to the yes. I am a mad lover of coffee.
Gearing up for the event, I was kept in the loop so well! I was getting pretty excited and also a little bit nervous since I had no idea if I would know anyone else that was going. Included in our private tour was a pretty swank ride to our destination. Imagine my surprise though when I saw Diana sitting and waiting too. We generally make plans to meet up every couple of months for coffee. This took our routine coffee date to a whole new level!
Nice ride, huh?
I couldn’t contain my geeky-ness, so I took a picture of Diana who was taking a picture of me. Only because we’re cool like that. For the roughly 1 hour drive to the plant in Ancaster, Ontario, we were given some timbits, doughnuts, bagels and water. Good thing for me too since I hate taking public transit and finally got frustrated enough to just walk to our departure location!
After arriving in Ancaster, quicker than I expected- since we left during the tale end of rush hour, we were greeted at the door of this top secret location. Or at least that’s how it felt since there wasn’t a smell of coffee outside (you’ll learn why in a few minutes) and there was no mention of the Tim Horton’s logo or coffee. They’re sly like that. I wouldn’t want a bunch of people coming in just for the coffee when there are so many restaurants across Canada and the US. Also? Dubai- they just opened one a few weeks ago. Once inside, they gave us these amazingly beautiful Tim Horton’s lab coats. Ok, so they’re not beautiful, and I’ll lose mine to my children at some point, but it was still pretty cool.
I totally think I rock this look. The safety goggles just complete the ensemble!
After getting a brief introduction of our awesome tour guides, we set out in our lab coats and safety goggles. Before entering the floor, we needed to wash our hands really well. I was reminded of our NICU days! Once you get on the main floor of the plant (where all the coffee magic happens) the aroma of coffee is delicious. We were then lead around the production floor to see just how our favourite coffee is made. (Collective our. As in Canada. ;)) We were also pretty lucky to have Kevin West accompany us on our tour. I had just read an article on this coffee tester just a few days prior. So fun.
We were met with a mound of burlap pallets when we entered the production floor. Apparently, it takes 1.5 millionpounds of beans to supply a weeks worth of coffee in our restaurants across Canada. (According to Wikipedia, it’s one of Canada’s largest fast food spots, with over 3000 stores country wide)
Keven then spoke to us about the beans Tim Horton’s uses. He travels globally to find the best beans to make the coffee Canadians have grown to love. Apparently, just by looking at the shape and colour of the raw bean can tell you what part of the world it was harvested from, land elevation, rainfall, etc. That was pretty interesting.
From left to right: Our tour guides, Kevin West showing us the raw beans, some of the machinery they use at the plant and finally, packages of coffee ready to be delivered to restaurants.
We also learned that they have very few staff. Most of the work is handled by machines. They work so fast, my head spun! That’s also why the last picture in the collage is blurry! Seeing the whole process from start to finish was so interesting! They receive the beans, clean them, sort them (beans vs. other dirt/particles), roast them, grind them and finally package them.
We just wouldn’t be bloggers without some photo ops! (Photo Credit)
When we arrived at the plant, we all noticed how it doesn’t smell like coffee outside. The reason for that is they have invested in a state of the art filtration device so none of the smoke from the roasters is getting out of the plant.
To conclude our tour, we were able to partake in a cupping session with Kevin. Much like wine tasting, coffee cupping is a serious gig. We were set up with 6 different types of coffee – from all over (plus including Tim Horton’s famous coffee). Kevin then went through the steps to properly cup. Apparently slurping is expected. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to slurp when you’ve been NOT slurping for 31 years!? I definitely couldn’t get that part right. After the coffee steeps for about 2 minutes (boiling water placed over grinds), we have to “break the crust” with our noses close to the cup. I was worried I’d stick my whole nose IN there, but thankfully, I could do that part right! To break the crust, you can concentrate to see smell very faint under and overtones in the coffee. I had no idea that existed either. Next came the sips. For a girl who likes a certain amount of cream/sugar in her coffee, I was surprised on how much I liked it. To cup properly in this instance, you need to inhale quickly, slurp and make sure oxygen gets in with the coffee in your mouth. Swish around and swallow or spit, whatever you prefer. It really was interesting to try all of these varieties of coffee. Who knew that one of the most expensive coffees out there I wouldn’t like? I felt like I was licking tree bark.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sudden urge for a double double and a 10 pack of timbits. ;)
Cheryl is a 30-year-old mother of 2 living in Toronto, Ontario. Lauren is a rambunctious 4-year-old and Jillian is a very active 2.5 year old. Jillian was diagnosed with Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy at 13 months old. Cheryl can be found at Beautiful Side of Hectic and 5 Minutes for Special Needs.