My Taste Test of Tim Hortons Dark Roast Coffee

by Nigel Ong

While we enjoy Starbucks and Dunkin as our default go-to coffee, Canadians have their Tim Hortons. Aside from their popular Original Blend, Tim Hortons also has various roasts. One of the more popular ones is the Dark Roast. 

I visited one of Tim Horton’s newly opened Singapore stores and picked one to review here. 

I will brew and sample the Tim Hortons Dark Roast in this post. I will also compare it with other relevant coffee in my collection before deciding if you should try this coffee.

About Tim Hortons Dark Roast

Tim Hortons is a renowned Canadian coffee and fast-food chain restaurant founded by hockey player Tim Horton and investor Ron Joyce in 1964. The first Tim Hortons store opened in Hamilton, Ontario. 

Originally, the restaurant made its name by offering great coffee and donuts. However, today, Tim Hortons has become a cultural icon in Canada and gained international recognition, with its stores operating in many countries worldwide.

Tim Hortons is famous for its “Double Double” coffee, referring to a coffee with two sugars and two creams, reflecting the customization options that have endeared it to customers. 

Aside from the excellent coffee, you can also find a variety of beverages, breakfast items, sandwiches, and baked goods in its stores. Tim Hortons also sells a wide variety of roasts, with the Dark Roast one of its most popular. 

The Dark Roast is also a testament to Tim Horton’s willingness to listen to its customers, as the coffee underwent blending changes several times, first in 2014 and then in 2017, to improve its taste. 

The most recent reblending was done in 2021 and has since been appreciated by many coffee drinkers. It is now claimed to be ‘richer, bolder, and smoother.’

How true is that? We will leave it until the actual tasting itself. Let’s see.

First Impression

I picked up my Tim Hortons Dark Roast bag from its Singapore store. Looking at the bag, it is brought over directly from Canada. Chats with the barista confirmed this, and a print confirmed that the coffee was roasted and packed in Canada.

The bright red packaging and the maple leaf print are instantly recognizable and should help it stand out on grocery aisles. The coffee is also well packaged, with the basics all included. 

There’s the foldable freshness tab and the one-way valve to keep the beans fresh inside.

When I opened the coffee bag, I could smell the intensity of the roasts. First is the smoky, woody notes, followed by a caramel-like aroma. There is also some chocolate smell, though not too strong. 

This is going to be a dark, smoky roast for sure. 

The coffee comes to me as ground, which means I cannot compare the shape and quality of the beans with other coffee roasts I have. On the color, it is quite dark, which is pretty standard for a dark roast.

How Does Tim Hortons Dark Roast Taste?

For tasting, I will brew the Tim Hortons Dark Roast three ways to ensure I cover the bases. These include immersion, filtration, and espresso brew.

French Press: An immersion brewing style. It makes a murky, full-flavored coffee with many particles. This should allow me to sample the coffee ‘dirty’ in its full flavor.

Pour Over With Filter Paper: This method brews through filtration instead of immersion. This method produces a ‘cleaner’ version of the coffee without too much oil and particles floating about. This should help me to sample more of the subtle notes. 

Espresso: Espresso allows me to concentrate the flavors in a small cup of coffee. This should help me to sample the coffee better, especially a dark roast like the Tim Hortons Dark Roast.

French Press

I retained my regular brewing process here. I loaded 15 grams of ground coffee and 180ml of hot water at around 185°F (about 85°C) into my Bodum Caffettiera French press

After stirring the coffee ground, I will let the concoction brew for 4 minutes before pouring. My brewing process is as suggested by Illy Coffee.

The coffee smells intense, with woody and chocolate notes. Once I poured the coffee into my transparent glass cup, I could see that the coffee was quite dark, with slight transparency.

Taste-wise, Tim Hortons Dark Roast is bold. It does not hold back on its initial punch, hitting my palate with a strong bitterness. Similar to the aroma, there’s also quite a bit of a smoky taste. 

As the coffee sits and glides around in my mouth, I can pick up a bit of chocolate and a woody taste. The woody taste is quite fresh and reminds me of freshly chopped wood. It’s not bad at all and is quite enjoyable. 

The coffee finishes quite strong, although it glides down my throat smoothly when I swallow. I particularly enjoy the chocolate-ish aftertaste lingering around my tongue after I swallow down the coffee. 

Pour Over With Filter Paper

My pour-over coffee is based on what Starbucks recommends. I added 20 grams of ground coffee into my IKEA Overst Coffee Pour Over Set, lined with Hario Coffee Filter Paper. Then, I formed the coffee ground into a volcano-shaped mound inside. 

Next, I slowly poured 360 ml of hot water and watched the coffee dripping into my IKEA Riklig Glass Pot. It took about close to 5 minutes to complete the brewing.

The brew looks ‘cleaner’ and slightly lighter in color. The filter paper again does its job, removing some of the coffee oil and finer coffee particles. 

Checking from the bottom of my transparent glass cup, there is less sediment than the French press.

The coffee also tastes much cleaner. I could detect a stronger chocolate note as the smokiness was reduced slightly. 

At this point, the coffee suddenly made me crave something sweet to balance out the smokiness. If I am ordering at the store, I would probably end up with a donut or two to pair with my Tim Hortons Dark Roast cup.

Espresso

I started by packing my fine coffee ground into my Wacaco Minipresso GR. Then I add hot water, close the seals, turn the espresso maker upside down, and pump away.

I get a cup of espresso with rich, velvety, and creamy crema. The color is beautiful, with shades of brown floating on a dark coffee background. The aroma is smoky, earthy, and woody.

Taste-wise, the espresso is bold and beautiful. The initial flavor is smoky, and the punch is strong. Following up are some chocolatey notes.

Resist the temptation to gulp the espresso, but swirl it in your mouth before swallowing. If you do that, you should be able to enjoy the aftertaste with a chocolatey, slightly caramel-like sweetness.

With Sugar and Sweetener

I’ve prepared two sweeteners for my review here: 

  • Regular brown granulated sugar and 
  • Equal artificial sweetener (Aspartame) 

I brewed two cups of Tim Hortons Dark Roast, sweetening one with a sugar stick and the other with two drops of Equal.

I can see and taste that sugar enhances the coffee experience by adding a subtle shine and a playful texture. If you are not a fan of black coffee, this may make your coffee more enjoyable. 

The sweetness factors work well with Equal, too, although I would prefer sugar. The sweetness in Equal just feels slightly unnatural, at least to my palate. It just takes away the coffee experience compared to regular sugared coffee.

With Milk and Creamer

Here, I prepared two ways to add some fat to the coffee:

  • Whole, UHT, fresh cow’s milk 
  • Coffee Mate coffee creamer

I added a single shot (about 30 ml or 1 oz) into my cup of coffee. For the other cup, I added a stick of creamer to it. That should be around 2 teaspoons. 

Both instantly turn the coffee brownish and introduce a bit of texture. Suppose milk and creamer both made the coffee a bit more dense.

There is also some subtle sweetness with the milked version, thanks to the lactose in the milk. This is less evident in the creamer version. 

Both are excellent coffee since Tim Hortons Dark Roast is intense in flavor. It can take in milk and creamer’s mellowing effects and retain its original flavor. 

However, if you insist I pick a winner, I will go with milk. I just like how the coffee becomes slightly sweet with milk in the picture, and the sweetness is also more enjoyable than the ones creamers give.

Tim Hortons Dark Roast vs Other Tim Hortons Coffee

Aside from the Tim Hortons Dark Roast, I have some other Tim Hortons roast. I figure I’ll brew them all and sample them side by side:

  • Tim Hortons Original Blend
  • Tim Hortons 100% Colombian
  • Tim Hortons French Vanilla Coffee

After trying it all, I would say that I prefer the 100% Colombian the most, followed by the Original Blend. The Dark Roast comes last. 

The French Vanilla coffee is flavored, so I won’t compare them here directly. 

I prefer drinking lighter, not smoky, coffee with hints of sweetness and chocolate notes. This helps me to appreciate the Colombian and Original Blend most. 

The Dark Roast may be a bit too spooky for me, especially if I am to drink the coffee black. However, I would easily place the Dark Roast first with milk or in espresso form. 

Tim Hortons Dark Roast vs Popular Dark Roasts

Next, I decided to face the Tim Hortons Dark Roast off with other popular dark roasts in my stash of coffee roasts. These include:

  • Peet’s Major Dickason Blend
  • Dunkin Midnight Roast
  • Kicking Horse Grizzly Claw Roast
  • Death Wish Coffee World’s Strongest Coffee 

I brewed all the coffee black and sampled them. Then I added milk into each cup and sipped them again to see if their flavors changed with milk.

All the coffee roasts are intense in flavor when drunk black. From all the coffee on the list, I would say perhaps the Major Dickason stands out slightly, as it has more flavor than the rest. 

I would say the same with milk; Major Dickason is doing the best. However, the Tim Hortons Dark Roast would come a close second here. 

Death Wish Coffee is last on the list, surprising even me. Perhaps this coffee is blended to maximum caffeine and sacrifices flavor. 

Tim Hortons Dark Roast vs Regular Coffee

Finally, I picked up a cup of regular Americano from the most regular of places, a 7-Eleven. 

I wanted to compare Tim Hortons Dark Roast with a regular cup of coffee, especially those $1 cups you can get from gas stations or convenience stores.

This is straightforward. The Tim Hortons roast wins here. It has better flavor depth and a more pleasant finish. It gives me more satisfying sips that ease the desire for coffee.

The regular coffee tastes bland, with little flavor. The bitterness is also flat and characterless. There’s also some watery taste, suggesting underbrewing to me.

Is Tim Hortons Dark Roast For You?

After extensively trying the Tim Hortons Dark Roast, I would say this is a decent, regular dark roast you can keep in your stable. 

It may not be as exciting as some dark roasts, but it is dependable.

Treat it as your regular 4Runner or Camry. This is the kind of no-drama dark roast you want to enjoy on your way to work. It gives you an intense coffee flavor with some flavor notes, and that’s it. 

If the flavor is too intense, alternate the coffee with something sweet, say a donut. If you want to mellow the coffee, enjoy it with some milk.Ready to give the Tim Hortons Dark Roast a try? Pick up a bag and see how you’ll react to it. Get yours here.

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