myke on kawfee – chain style

In November of last year, I blogged about the local cafes I frequent.  A new post is pending soon due to recent additions to Hamilton’s coffee culture and my visiting other locations becoming known for their coffee, but a friend on twitter asked me my opinion of the recent additions of espresso-based beverages to two chain restaurants:  namely McDonalds and Tim Hortons.

Up for a challenge, I said “what the fuck” and decided to do a survey of various chain places.  This took a while as I wanted to sample the offerings of more than one location of each chain over different times of the day.  This took me as far east as Oshawa and as far west as Stratford.  The reason being is that I wanted to give each chain a fair chance at showing how consistent their product is and for the most part, they were.

The Chains I rated were:  McDonalds, Starbucks, Coffee Culture, Williams Fresh Café, Second Cup, Timothy’s, and Tim Hortons.

They were reviewed on the taste and quality of their “house blend”, the taste and quality of a regular sized latte (my beverage of choice), the consistency of the product across at least three locations, the vibe of the various locations, whether they had WiFi access.

Beverage Quality was rated on a quality scale of Bleh (-1), Meh (0) and Yeah (+1).

Beverage Consistency was rated on a scale of 1 to 10; 1 being no consistency and 10 being perfectly consistent.  Only one chain received a perfect score.

Vibe was rated on a scale of 1 to 10; 1 being uncomfortable and clinical and not leading me to want to hang out or return to 10 being a great place to relax, enjoy and want to return.  None of the chains received a perfect ten.

WiFi access added a point to the tally.  So each chain was rated on a possible score out of 23 points, which I calculated to a percentage value.


Retail Location





Vibe Rating



McDonalds Meh Yeah


Decent café (leather, fireplace)


Yes 65.22%
Starbucks Yeah Yeah


Upscale Café (good seats, leather, cool tunes)


Yes 73.91%
Coffee Culture Meh Bleh


Upscale Fast Food Café (fireplace, good seats)


Yes 52.17%
Williams Fresh Café Yeah Bleh


Fast food café (bench seats, clinical atmosphere)


Yes 47.83%
Second Cup Meh Meh


Upscale Café (fireplace, leather, good seats)


Yes 69.57%
Timothy’s Yeah Meh


Upscale Café (good seats, leather, cool tunes)


Yes 60.87%
Tim Hortons Bleh Bleh


Well, it’s a Timmies


No 43.48%

So, if there is no chance of my finding a local café/roaster in a city or town (my first choice – I prefer my money to stay in the local economy and support an independent business), I will most likely select one of the chains in the following order:

  1. Starbucks – 74%
  2. Second Cup – 70%
  3. McDonalds – 65%
  4. Timothy’s – 61%
  5. Coffee Culture – 52%
  6. Williams – 48%
  7. Tim Hortons – 43%

Of the chains I reviewed, McDonalds was the biggest surprise – their coffee and latte beverages were surprisingly good, tasty and consistent (like Starbucks, they have made an espresso-based beverage automated to the point of it being difficult to fuck up).  Coffee Culture disappointed me the most with their inconsistent brews and shots and poor attention to customer service – they often had beautiful locations but indifferent and often shoddy service.


1 thought on “myke on kawfee – chain style

  1. Ah ! As someone who spends a lot of time in coffee places, this one is right up my alley. Unfortunately (as I think I said when we met) coffee does not agree with me … I get palpitations, bad dreams, other nasty stuff. Even from decaf. So I would have to rate the places on other categories, e. g. teas, etc. From the very rare occasions on which I do touch the stuff (i. e. coffee) I think I would have to agree about putting Starbucks at the top of the list as far as the coffee itself.
    As far as tea: green teas have too much caffeine for me to deal with, herbal teas I find give me bad breath unless I eat pretty regularly to counteract the effect. I stick mostly with black teas, chai, etc. Darjeeling if they have it, or Irish Breakfast, Lady Grey, but all of those are hard to find.
    I am not a fan of Earl Grey, it is too minty for me. No like mint tea. Camomile either.
    I am ashamed to confess it but Tim’s steeped tea is my preferred. Something about it. Especially when it’s fresh. I think they put something in there that’s addictive. Also I find in terms of the cup materials, almost all of them except for Tim’s leave some kind of styrofoam taste or aftertaste with the tea. Including Starbucks, Second Cup, McDonald’s. Tim’s much less so. If the steeped has been sitting on the pot for a while or not properly prepared, it gets kinds yucky.
    Worst tea experiences, very common, people beyond the counter who have no clue how to prepare it. What you need to do (if you are stuck with using bags) is put in the bag FIRST, then the hot water, then the milk or cream. Lots of places do it exactly backwards. Yuck.
    VERY worst tea experience: at a Coffee Time in Toronto where the lady behind the counter was so confused about tea (I think I was the first person who had ever requested it of her) that she prepared it by filling a cup with coffee and then dropping a teabag into it. What a mess.
    I actually like Timmie’s vibe. You get EVERYONE in there, teens, truckers, old guys with construction caps and pickups. It is very levelling and eclectic and democratic and all that.
    As far as wi-fi, yes, they need it. A lot of the Tim’s on the NY side of the border already have it, actually. It is being planned for up here too; I am on their “advisors panel”, LOL, and got a questionnaire about it a few months back. So it is in the works.
    Main thing is they do not want people obviously to sit at a table with their laptops for hours, which I, for one, tend to do. Doesn’t do much for turnover and irritates people when the places is crowded.
    More than anything, also, even more than the Wi-Fi (because you can get the Net with the stick from your laptop anyway) is power outlets. The others on the list, even McDonald’s, all have them. Tim’s does not. They will NEED those, I told them so. Not that they will listen to me.

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