Cuppa Woe

Rex Murphy is steamed over Tim Horton's decision to start offering lattes and cappuccinos along the lines of Starbucks.

Rex Murphy is steamed over Tim Horton's decision to start offering lattes and cappuccinos along the lines of Starbucks.

Read a transcript of this Rex Murphy episode

It may be the wildest flouting of doctrine since the Reformation, a change that goes far, far deeper to the root of Canadian-ness, than any silly little contention about beavers and polar bears, teeth or claws, as our national emblem.

Tim Hortons (hold your children close here) is about to start offering espressos, lattes and cappuccinos. Yes, and I hate to load this concept on you, but Tim offering lattes and cappuccinos will, over time, inevitably lead to selling and playing Michael Buble croonings, or offering little animated tofu statuettes of Celine Dion yodeling about the Titanic going down.

Look. Starbucks is Noam Chomsky and Seattle. Tim Horton’s is Don Cherry and Sault Saint Marie. And shade grown or under the burning sun, never their beans shall meet.

When you buy wrestling tickets, and I hope you do, you don’t show up at the arena to catch some damn ballet. 

What are these Horton people trying to do? What self-respecting ordinary hockey-loving-politics-despising Canadian is going to Timmy’s in front of his friends, people who know he’s wearing his brother’s coat from last year and ask for a Venti cappuccino – double espresso – Turkish beans from the Fair trade side of the plant and please – some extra foam?  It just can’t be done, they’d smother him for his own good.

Similarly, would you park the 12-year-old Toyota Camry, and wander into Starbucks now and ask for a double-double? Ha! My friend you would be hissed out by a buzzing barista or pelted with CDs of Andalusian harp music. 

Here’s why this is all wrong: both of these coffee pimps lately are trying to act like, trying to be, their opponents. Sorry, it can't be done. Capulet will war with Montague. Canadian Tire implodes at mention of Neiman Marcus. 

Timmy’s and Starbucks are polarities, shadow and light, that cannot mingle, lest the earth and all who sip upon it should be let fall from orbit and the Great Barista have us plunge into the espresso machine of the Sun.

Tim Hortons has become one of the most successful companies in the history of the world with the perfect formula: offer a circus of pretty rich donuts that could be assisted down the human throat and into the intestine with a few large okay coffees.

S-bucks is different. People go to Starbucks to show off their Lexus or their Apple iPad.  Starbucks has the pretentious Grandes, Ventis and Talls.

Tim’s a double-double to go. It is not coffee you bring the boss; its coffee you get for a friend. Starbucks is suck-up coffee, "Here Boss, brought you a Venti!"  Now Tims is walking away from the donuts too. Now they're offering lasagna - lasagna! What is this, a donut shop or a pasta factory?

You know something, all those folks wasting their time and confusing everybody with their silly Occupy Wall Street stuff - how about giving a little attention to Timmy’s. Occupy Hortons! Down with Cappuccino! Down with lasanga! Bring back the world we know and love.

For The National, I’m Rex Murphy.