New Tim Hortons coffee lids leak too much, some customers say

New and supposedly improved Tim Hortons coffee lids are proving to be a bust with some customers who claim they're still causing leaks while the company says nine out of 10 patrons preferred the new version during trials.

Company says 9 out of 10 customers prefer the new lids and feedback has been 'overwhelmingly positive'

Alex MacIntyre was introduced to Tim Hortons' new lid when he bought a coffee at a Kitchener, Ont., location. He says he's not a fan. (Alex MacIntyre)

New Tim Hortons coffee lids were supposed to reduce that pesky leakage problem, but some customers claim they've actually made it worse.

Meanwhile, the company insists many customers have given the lids a solid thumbs-up.

The restaurant chain started testing a revised design — a raised lid with a maple leaf insignia — in six locations in August following complaints that its standard, flat lids leaked too much.

When Tim Hortons recently introduced its new lids to about 100 more locations across Canada, the reviews started pouring in on social media. Some customers voiced their approval, but others complained that the revamped design causes even more spillage.

So far, the complaints have been anecdotal and it's hard to know how many people who have tried the new lids have an issue with them. But customers with gripes are making themselves heard. 

"They came out with this great announcement that they were finally going to fix this [leakage] and it seems to be slightly worse," customer Chris Hammond told CBC News.

He posted a complaint on Facebook after noticing a problem as soon as he was served his first coffee with the new lid at a Tim Hortons in Waterloo, Ont., last week. 

"There was already coffee on the top of it and it was coming out of the air-hole and the [drink] sealing-hole," he said. "The first thing I said was, 'Wow, that seems to leak more than the last one I got.'"

Olivia McKague in Kitchener, Ont., took this photo of her Tim Hortons coffee with the new lid that was placed in her car. (Olivia McKague)

Olivia McKague was introduced to the new lid at a Tim Hortons in Kitchener, Ont., a couple weeks ago. She said it leaked from both the top and the sides, leading to major spillage during her morning commute.

"In that seven minute drive, I had coffee spilt down the sides of my [car] console. I can't be that wild of a driver," she said.

"I get that the business is always changing and that Tim Hortons has to keep up with changes, but I just wish they'd bring back the old lid."

Some people love it

Tim Hortons said the lids are still in the test-phase and it continues to assess feedback from customers.

"We understand that our guests feel very passionate about making sure we get it right," said company spokesperson Jane Almeida in an email to CBC News.

However, she said that much of feedback so far has been "overwhelmingly positive," with nine out of 10 customers declaring they preferred the new lid during the first trial phase.

"Canadians especially loved the Canadian maple leaf design," she said. 

The new lids are part of a series of changes for Tim Hortons which has seen its public image tarnished following a takeover by Restaurant Brands International (RBI) which is majority-owned by global investment firm 3G Capital.

Ongoing disputes between RBI and some Tim Hortons franchise owners have spilled over into public view, including allegations of mismanagement that devolved into multiple lawsuits last year.

This year, the retailer has tried to boost its image by announcing upgrades such as a children's menu, a $700 million renovation plan for its restaurants and a commitment to more environmentally friendly, less leaky lids.

Along with fine-tuning its design, Tim Hortons said over the next few months it will test and eventually transition its lids from from polystyrene to polypropylene, a more widely recycled material.

For years, Tim Hortons customers have complained about coffee leakage caused by its flat lids. (CBC)

Meanwhile, customers who disapprove of the revised lids are hoping to influence the retail chain before they become a done deal.

On Sunday, Alex MacIntyre sent Tim Hortons a Facebook complaint — and it actually has nothing to do with leakage. His gripe is that the lid's drink opening is much smaller than before, so he can no longer gulp down his coffee the way he enjoys.

"Sipping coffee isn't my thing," said MacIntyre who was introduced to the new design at a Kitchener location.

He believes the smaller opening could lead to problems for people who drink coffee and drive.

"Now I've got to tilt my head back further. I'm taking my eyes off the road."

A McDonald's coffee lid (left) and a Starbucks lid. (CBC)

Retail expert Brynn Winegard hasn't tested the new lids, but suspects at least some of the gripes are rooted in a resistance to change from long-time customers.

"To some extent, there's always going to be backlash associated with change."

She said that the new lid appears very similar to a design used by other popular coffee chains such as Starbucks and McDonald's and that, over time, customers will probably warm up to it.

"Very likely, once they sort of acclimatize to it, you won't hear much more about it."

McKague may never become acclimatized. She said the new lids have inspired her to starting making coffee at home.

MacIntyre said no matter what kind of lid is served, he likes Tim Hortons coffee too much to do anything too drastic.

"I'm not going to boycott them over a lid change."


Sophia Harris

Business reporter

Based in Toronto, Sophia Harris covers consumer and business for CBC News web, radio and TV. She previously worked as a CBC videojournalist in the Maritimes where she won an Atlantic Journalism Award for her work. Contact:


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