Is Starbucks pushing their Blonde on the Tim Hortons crowd?

Coffee wars are brewing, again

You know how Tim Hortons decided to make “lattes” in an effort to woo some of the sophisticated sorts from Starbucks? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that not long after Starbucks began advertising how their drinks are “handcrafted beverages” rather than, say, from a machine that dispenses a drink with a push of a button. Now Starbucks is releasing a “Blonde” roast that promises to be “lighter, mellower and more subtle” than their bold and medium blends. You know what that sounds like? It sounds a lot like an attempt to compete with Tim’s black water roast, if you ask me.

But wait! There’s more! In a video featured prominently on both the American and Canadian Starbucks websites, a couple of the company’s Master Roasters talk about the lighter blend (in the same ernest way that the potato farmer talks about his tots in that McDonalds commercial): “It kind of dances on your tongue in a different way than any other Starbucks coffee,” says one of them. (Yeah, “different,” as in like the coffee Tim Hortons makes.) The other roaster suggests, “It’s for the person who always wished that Starbucks had a roast like this.” (Uh, like in “the person” who gets their cup of joe from Tim Hortons?) Even a Starbucks blog post about the new roast has their Global Coffee category manager admitting that, “while [my dad] treasures his morning coffee, [he] typically finds some of our coffees a little too dark for his tastes.”  (Boom. Everybody’s dad loves Tim Hortons.)

I wanted to do a taste test between the Blonde roast and a cup of Tim’s, but the new light blend won’t be brewed in Canadian Starbucks locations until February 7. Stay tuned.

And by the by, my coffee allegiance was recently revealed at one of those On the Go 401 rest stops. I picked up my tall bold roast from Starbucks and then crossed the food court to get in line for a dozen donuts from Tim’s.