Saturday, May 25, 2013

Black Coffee Magic

I work every Saturday from 9-4. It really sucks; it's probably the worst part of my job. Over the last few months, I've fallen into a routine, in which I spend my lunch hour walking to Tim Hortons. It's about a 20 minute walk each way, and it has kind of become a key to me making it through every Saturday.

I normally run in the morning, about an hour after I wake up. Saturdays are the one day that I can't do that; I don't have enough time to do all that and still be ready to go by 8:45. I'd have to be up at 6 am, which would prevent me from ever going anywhere or doing anything on Friday nights. So instead, I typically run first thing after work, shortly after 4. However, my body is so used to burning all that energy first thing in the day, that by noon I'm typically so restless that I'm pacing from my office to the program room. I need to get outside, stretch, and burn some energy.

I've also come to really value the fresh air and change of scenery. I've always been a big believer that it is important to get out of the branch on my lunch. For years, I would buy all my lunches just for the excuse to go for a walk. However, that ended when I effectively cut junk food from my diet and started more heavily controlling what I eat. Since I've never been much of an aimless walker, I needed a new excuse to leave.

I actually kind of despise Tim Hortons. That hasn't always been true; at one time I loved them. When I was in high school, there was a Tim Hortons on the walk from the bus station to my school, and I would often stop in before school or on my way home. I started drinking coffee around tenth grade, and I would frequently pick up double-doubles. By twelfth grade, I had moved on to strictly black coffee, but I had a weakness for Iced Caps.

My feelings toward the chain started to change when I realized how consistently awful the service was. They would screw up my orders regularly, even the basic ones (they sometimes managed to mess up black coffee). I discovered that this was not limited to my local Tim Hortons either. The majority of Toronto Tim Hortons locations have had borderline incompetent staff. I don't actually blame the staff members for this. The problem, as far as I see it, is that Tim Hortons pays their staff the bare minimum and seems to work them hard and treat them badly. Nobody capable of working elsewhere would work there, so they're left with new Canadians with little to no English and limited education. They're also under intense pressure to move fast, which results in them forgoing getting it right.

I've also felt like the quality of the Tim Hortons products has taken a bit of a nose dive. I'm sure some of that is my tastes changing. Their coffee, which I once enjoyed greatly, I now practically need to hold my nose to drink, but I suspect most of that is as a result of frequenting many of Toronto's more premium coffee outlets, as well as the Keurig brewer I bought and installed next to my bed (yeah, I may be an addict). Unquestionably, though, their sandwiches and baked goods have all dropped in quality. I'm sure they're now cheaper to make and/or easier to transport, but the result is that everything ranges from barely passable to outright disgusting.

I still use Tim Hortons as the destination for my walks, mostly because there isn't really anywhere else to go. That's the only reason I ever go to Tim Hortons: they're so damn ubiquitous. I occasionally get their coffee, if I really need a fix, but mostly I get tea, since it's not awful. What fascinates me, however, is that every time I go into a Tim Hortons, all the baked products (donuts, muffins, cookies, etc) behind the glass counter look delicious. I have no idea what kind of black magic they use to accomplish this, because I know that I will enjoy none of them. Their muffins and cookies are either dry or disgustingly buttery, and I never liked donuts much even before I disliked Tim Hortons. I don't understand it. Something tells me they're not going to put a Starbucks in Malvern any time soon, so I guess I'll probably have plenty more time to try and figure it out. Unfortunately.

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