Tim Hortons relaunches espresso drinks in 'back-to-basics' strategy

·3-min read
Tim Hortons relaunches espresso drinks in 'back-to-basics' strategy

Tim Hortons is relaunching its espresso line of drinks, promising a bolder, richer product as the company continues to pursue a "back-to-basics" strategy.

The coffee and doughnut chain will officially begin marketing the newly changed espresso drinks on Tuesday, along with a $2 promotion on any-sized espresso beverages through to Nov. 28. 

The move is the latest step in the "back-to-basics" strategy that the parent company of Tim Hortons, Restaurant Brands International (QSR)(QSR.TO), first launched in 2020. The plan promised to improve the quality of the chain's core offerings, including coffee, baked goods and breakfast items. The company started by installing fresh brewer technology at all of its outlets, something which is supposed to improve the consistency of Tim Hortons coffee. It also relaunched its dark roast blend earlier this year. 

While Tim Hortons has served espresso for the last decade, it's something that vice-president of coffee operations Kevin West admits the company has been "lightly committed" to, and needed improvement.

"Candidly speaking, it wasn't a priority for the business. We didn't put a lot of weight behind it to remind Canadians that we sell espresso-based beverages," West said in an interview with Yahoo Finance Canada. This year, after Tim Hortons surveyed customers as part of the "back-to-basics" strategy, the chain decided to make changes. West and his team spent five months this year working on the new espresso blend.

"We spent a lot of time talking to our guests and looking at where we can improve on our espresso, and it was very clear to us that they were looking for a richer, bolder espresso. So that's what we did here," West said. 

Tim Hortons dominates the coffee scene in Canada, controlling 70 per cent of the market, according to West. But most of that market share is a result of its brewed coffee, not its espresso lineup, which has to compete with the likes of brands like Starbucks. 

The company sees room to grow when it comes to espresso beverages. Coffee is the most popular drink among Canadian adults over the age of 16 – more popular than tap water, a 2020 trends study from the Coffee Association of Canada found.

"We believe espresso-based beverages will be a growth category for years to come," Tim Hortons president Axel Schwan said in an interview. 

"We are the market leader in brewed coffee, and we want to be the clear market leader in espresso as well. It's natural for us to really double-down, triple-down on this, and we're proud to have the whole system behind it with this improved offering."  

West says that the espresso lineup will be more of a focus for Tim Hortons going forward, both in terms of marketing and new product innovations. 

"The key for what we believe to be a successful launch is one, reminding the guests that we have it and two, communicating the quality about the espresso," West said. 

"It's rebuilding this back up again... We want to rebuild that credibility." 

Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.

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