By Josh Dehaas - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 0 Comments
From webcams to Facebook petitions, schools find new ways to keep the coffee flowing and lines moving
After polling his peers last fall, Adam Oran, who represents Human Kinetics students for the University of Windsor Student Alliance, knew which policy to pursue. He started a Facebook page called “Lets Get a Timmies in HK,” referring to their building, a 15-minute walk from the nearest Tim Hortons coffee outlet.
Within a week, 150 people liked the page; by February, 390 had joined. Talks with campus officials are now under way, says Oran. When constituents stop to ask how their Tim’s is coming, he’s proud to report that management has been receptive.
Oran wasn’t the first to make such a petition. A Facebook page demanding a better Tim Hortons for Mount Royal University in Calgary in 2010 noted long lines and lack of variety at the campus kiosk. The page got more than 700 likes by the time Brent Mann, general manager for the school’s food-service provider, Sodexo, posed for photos for the school newspaper with a shovel in hand, turning the sod on the bigger and better location. Continue…
By Julia Belluz - Friday, December 14, 2012 at 10:48 AM - 0 Comments
The year 2012 brought with it many opportunities for wielding a big, debunking stick and pointing it towards outrageous attacks on science. From the Science-ish archives, to be read with a festive beverage, here are the worst offenders from 2012:
1. DR. OZ, FAITH HEALER
Though he may have started out as one of America’s most-trusted MDs after earning a seal of approval from none other than Oprah Winfrey, the medical community has long known that Dr. Mehmet Oz can be a font of pseudoscience. This year, when he was in Toronto to give a motivational lecture about the “biology of blubber,” I had a chance to sit-down with Oz and grill him about his use of medical evidence. In particular, when asked about his promotion of raspberry ketones for weight loss—a dubious supplement—he said it was “an example of where I’m trying to give you hope.” Needless to say, he didn’t pass the evidence test. I’m pretty sure I was the only reporter in the room he didn’t hug that day.
Related link: Dr. Oz, faith healer
By Julia Belluz - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 11:11 AM - 0 Comments
If you scanned yesterday’s headlines while sipping your morning coffee, you
must have felt smug about your choice of beverage. A new prospective study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that there seems to be an “inverse association between coffee drinking and total and cause-specific mortality.” In other words, scientists looked at individuals over time and noticed an association between drinking coffee and a longer life.
Now, because of the nature of this “observational study”—where no intervention is introduced, where subjects aren’t randomized, where researchers just look at the link between an exposure to something and a certain outcome—the authors of the article were careful to acknowledge that, “Whether this was a causal or associational finding cannot be determined from our data.”
Yet, this brief but crucial note seemed to be lost in some of the reporting on the subject or referenced only several paragraphs after hyperbolic headlines and opening sentences.
Inspired by the great review of U.S. coverage by Gary Schwitzer, Science-ish looked at how the big coffee study was packaged—headline and leading paragraphs—in our nation’s newspapers:
By Alex Ballingall - Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 10:28 AM - 0 Comments
At long last, the company unveils a cup lid that won’t drip hot coffee down your leg
Coffee-stained pants, endless frustration tucking back a plastic tab that won’t stay in its designated groove—if you’re a Tim Hortons regular, you’re familiar with such tribulations. The cause, as discussed vehemently on dozens of Internet forums and Facebook groups, is the ﬂat, ﬂimsy lid used by Tim Hortons on their cups.
With an eye to curbing such criticism, Canada’s favourite doughnut shop has quietly unveiled a new lid with an “improved ﬂip tab design.” First available in January, the company plans to have the new lids topping warm beverages in Canada and the U.S. by the end of the year. “We have gotten some comments from customers [saying] they were disappointed with the consistency of the ﬂip tab,” says Tim Hortons’ manager of public affairs Alexandra Cygal. “We wanted to make sure the design is consistent.”
To the oblivious coffee guzzler, the new lids might not appear any different. They’re made from the same plastic material, are still relatively ﬂat (unlike the domed lids at rivals like Starbucks and McDonald’s) and they’re still coloured that familiar chocolate brown. The most signiﬁcant change lies in the dreaded ﬂip tab, which has been redesigned to ﬁt more snugly into the curved notch and be less prone to tearing. The new lids also appear to offer a tighter seal (eliminating most of those annoying leaks) and allow better stacking of cups one on top of the other.
By Julia Belluz - Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 10:49 AM - 0 Comments
Radiation can give life and take it away. Sunlight, therapy to kill malignant tumors, powerful x-rays, and radio waves are all forms of radiation. Lately, much has been made of the health risks related to another source of invisible waves: WiFi.
In recent years, politicians and leaders in the health field have tried to do something about the perceived threat of exposure to radio-frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields, on which WiFi, cell phone networks, radio signals, microwave ovens, and cordless home phones depend. Public fears about RF fields may have hit a fever pitch when, last summer, the World Health Organization designated them as a “possibly carcinogenic” agent—alongside others like coffee—for which evidence of harm is uncertain. Since then, we’ve heard our nation’s doctors raise concerns about the health risks related to cell phones; politicians, such as Elizabeth May, warn publicly about the potential harms posed by WiFi; and frightened parents say they’d move their children away from the invisible threat, as schools impose bans on wireless internet.
But what do we actually know about the health effects of RF exposure—and, in particular, the health risks related to WiFi?
Different technologies give off different amounts of radiation, explained Dr. Patrizia Frei (PhD), a research fellow at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, who has conducted reviews on the health effects of RF exposure. “While mobile phones cause mostly localized exposure to the head,” she said, “WiFi usually causes far-field whole-body exposures which are usually much lower.” According to the UK’s Health Protection Agency, “the signals are very low power, typically 0.1 watt (100 milliwatts) in both the computer and the router (access point), and the results so far show exposures are well within the internationally-accepted guidelines from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.”
By Cathy Gulli - Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 11:50 AM - 3 Comments
Why the fight over who makes the better single-serve coffee machine is ramping up
In the world of single-serve coffee makers, debate over which brewer is better, the Keurig or Tassimo, is as heated as an extra-extra-hot skinny latte. Each machine takes its own type of coffee-grind packet—a “K-cup” or a “T-disc,” respectively—and each machine is aligned with different coffee bean companies. So when Starbucks announced a few weeks ago that it will sell one-cup pods of its grinds exclusively fit for Keurig machines, caffeine addicts were further inflamed: Tassimo used to have an exclusive deal with Starbucks. All that changed when, in March,
Starbucks split from Kraft Foods, which launched the Tassimo in Canada in 2006 and saw it gain popularity in large part because of its partnership with the Seattle-based coffee house. The breakup proved felicitous for Keurig: in late August, Starbucks unveiled plans to sell K-Cups throughout the United States, starting in November, and in Canada next March. According to Jeff Hansberry, president of global consumer products for Starbucks, sales are forecast to top US$1 billion.
But this news is a loss for Tassimo users, many of whom bought the coffee machine out of loyalty to Starbucks, not Kraft. A Facebook page called “Tassimo Division” has emerged for the disgruntled. Other consumer websites reveal that when rumours spread of an impending split, many people started buying Starbucks T-discs in bulk. “I stockpiled about an eight-month supply,” admits one commenter on singleservecoffeeforums.com. “I’m really upset that they left me hanging here with nothing,” laments another named “tassimodepressed.”
By Michael Friscolanti - Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 4 Comments
A bitter court battle is spilling intimate secrets about Tim Hortons’ hefty profits
Last year, customers spent more than $5 billion at Tim Hortons. Five billion dollars. That’s $13.7 million worth of coffee and doughnuts per day. Which, in theory, should leave everyone—head office, shareholders and individual franchisees—with plenty of proﬁt to go around. (Don Schroeder, recently fired as Tim’s CEO, pocketed $5.7 million just for walking away and keeping quiet.)
But not everyone agrees with how the pot is divvied up. Arch and Anne Jollymore, both long-time Hortons franchisees, were in a Toronto courtroom last week hoping to certify a hefty class-action lawsuit against the iconic company, arguing that Tim’s historic shift to frozen doughnuts nearly a decade ago has taken a huge bite out of their cash registers—while providing head office with “spectacular” returns. Their legal briefs are complex (the court file is tens of thousands of pages) but the couple’s claim boils down to this: Hortons “forced” franchisees to scrap their deep fryers, then sold them frozen fritters and crullers for triple the cost of the scratch-baked versions.
Three years after the lawsuit was filed, a judge will soon decide whether the action should be sent to trial or tossed out of court. But whatever the outcome, the high-profile case has already served up one revelation that some loyal double-double drinkers will have a hard time swallowing: the Jollymores aren’t the only Hortons operators who think they should be making more money.
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 10:45 AM - 7 Comments
How the high-end brand aims to capture the everyman market
In the 1991 comedy L.A. Story, Steve Martin’s character, Harris, memorably poked fun at the coffee house culture Starbucks was introducing to Americans: “I’ll have a half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon.” At the time, Starbucks had just 116 stores in the United States. Two decades later, it has ballooned to nearly 17,000 stores in 50 countries. But there still remains a sizable chunk of the coffee-drinking population that’s wary of buying their coffee from the Seattle-based giant, either because it’s too expensive, too fussy or too inconvenient (believe it or not, some coffee drinkers still find it easier to brew a pot at home).
So, with growth opportunities for its flagship brand in North America waning, Starbucks decided last year to overhaul the Seattle’s Best Coffee brand it acquired in the U.S. eight years ago (three years ago in Canada) for less than US$100 million, and signed deals to sell brewed coffee in Subway restaurants, Burger Kings, AMC movie theatres and just about anywhere else it’s often difficult to find a decent cup. Starbucks’ CEO has set a lofty annual revenue goal of $1 billion for the division.
In Canada, Starbucks is now going a step further with a pilot project that has put Seattle’s Best branded “coffee bars” inside four Wal-Mart Supercentres, with another four to be opened over the next year. The idea is to provide a slightly cheaper Starbucks-type beverage, such as lattes and mochas, to people who don’t associate coffee with overstuffed furniture and faux jazz. “It’s a new concept for us. They’re coffee bars with a walk-up window on one side and a bar to linger at on the other,” says Jenny McCabe, a Starbucks spokesperson. “We think we can simplify premium coffee and make it really accessible. Wal-Mart is not a place that most people would have thought to look for premium coffee.”
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 3:10 PM - 22 Comments
Those who drink six cups or more a day are 20% less likely to develop disease
Men who drank six cups or more of coffee a day were found to be 20 per cent less likely to develop prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men, the BBC reports. The new study, which looked at almost 50,000 men, found they were also 60 per cent less likely to develop an aggressive form of the disease, which can spread to other parts of the body. No difference was found between the caffeinated and decaffeinated study, which suggested that caffeine wasn’t the cause. But even one to three cups a day was found to lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer by 30 per cent. The study followed these men, all U.S. health professionals, from 1986 to 2006.
By Jason Kirby - Monday, March 14, 2011 at 10:06 AM - 9 Comments
A reader sent us a photo of a new lid that debuted at his local Timmies
As Maclean’s noted two weeks ago, legions of Tim Hortons coffee sippers regularly complain the company’s lids have fallen way behind the competition. They leak, and the tabs never stay open. It’s clearly a hot-button issue—our original story is the most-read article on Macleans.ca this year. So behold, the new Tim Hortons coffee lid (sort of). This week Doug Stitt, an Ohio resident and Tim Hortons regular, sent us a photo of a new lid that debuted at his local Timmies. Stitt, who spoke to Maclean’s for our original story, was told the new lid is part of an “experiment” and was only available in one size: extra-large. A company spokesman says the new lid is being test-marketed for specialty drinks (though Stitt got his with just a regular coffee), but the company has good news for dribble-sufferers: Tim Hortons is working with its supplier on a redesign of its current flip-tab lids, which will hit stores later this year.
By Jason Kirby - Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 11:41 AM - 195 Comments
Why is Tim Hortons, with its leaky coffee cups, sitting out the race to build a better lid?
Every morning millions of bleary-eyed students, factory workers and cubicle dwellers are united in their quest for a Tim Hortons “fix.” Well, that, and the unending frustration that is the #&@% Tim Hortons coffee lid. You know what we’re talking about. The little plastic tab that’s supposed to tear back and fit snugly into the notch but tends to rip at an angle instead, leaving a jagged edge. Even if the tab tears properly, it’s always popping back up anyway. And the leaks!!! The primary function of a lid is simple enough—keep liquid and heat in the cup—yet as the dampened masses of the Tim Hortons nation can attest, the company’s lids seem specifically designed to liberate one’s beverage from the cup and send it dribbling down your hand and onto your shirt. We’ve all been there. Only, it doesn’t have to be this way.
The coffee lid has gone through a revolution in recent years. You can see that in the superior lids on offer from Tim Hortons’ many rivals. Every year dozens of new disposable lid “inventions” are filed with patent offices. Never have there been so many enterprising and reliable lid designs for restaurants to choose from—lids with raised and contoured spouts, ones that rotate to open and close, anti-spill lids engineered with chambers to keep coffee from leaking out, and even “smart” lids that function like a French press or that change colour with the temperature of your drink.
Yet, through it all, Tim Hortons has sat squarely on the sidelines. Now, even as Tim Hortons celebrates the 25th anniversary of its Roll Up The Rim contest this week, a grassroots campaign is gaining steam among Facebook users and bloggers who all share the same unrelenting message for the company: ordering a double double shouldn’t have to mean dribble dribble.
Doug Stitt, an American living in Columbus, Ohio, is one of them, though until recently he thought he was alone in his frustration. Shortly after Stitt moved to the city in the late 1990s, he fell in love with Tim Hortons coffee. The chain had only just opened up there, one of several beachheads in its effort to crack the U.S. market. Since then, Stitt, who works in design and marketing, has been a regular, stopping off at least three times a week to start his day. But as much as he craves the coffee, he loathes the lids. “They’re not just bad in one way, they’re bad in every way,” he says.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 1:00 PM - 8 Comments
MacKay’s new romance, Coffee, compost and the PMO, James Moore’s father-son trips
MacKay’s new romance?
There was much buzz about Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s date for the True Patriot Love fundraiser for Canadian troops held in Toronto. MacKay arrived at the dinner with former Miss World Canada Nazanin Afshin-Jam. Rumours of a romance have been reported. The interesting twist is that back in 2006, Afshin-Jam was on the Hill talking to MPs and fighting to save the life of another Iranian who shares her first name, Nazanin Fatehi. Fatehi stabbed one of the men who attempted to rape her and was sentenced to hang. (She was eventually released.) One of the MPs who helped Afshin-Jam at her Ottawa press conference was former Liberal MP (and former MacKay girlfriend) Belinda Stronach.
Coffee, compost and the PMO
The closest coffee place to the PMO, which is in the Langevin Block, used to be a Tim Hortons. A while back it was replaced with a Bridgehead café, known for its fair trade and organic coffees. Not only does Bridgehead have recycling bins, it has compost bins as well. Bridgehead staff say they see a lot of PMO staffers come in and also note that NDP Leader Jack Layton gets his hot beverages there too. When PM spokesperson Dimitri Soudas was spotted with a Bridgehead hot apple cider, he said his choice of coffee purveyor was based purely on convenience and was in no way a political statement.
By Chris Sorensen - Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 10:40 AM - 2 Comments
Profits are up at Starbucks as sales of pricey coffees rebound
When looking for clues about a recovery, economists generally pore over data on factory orders, housing starts, and even something called the Baltic Dry Index, which measures shipping volumes of coal and iron ore, among other things. But maybe they should also be looking in the bottom of their coffee cups.
Java giant Starbucks recently surprised analysts with encouraging quarterly financial results, including better-than-expected profits and sales growth at many of its stores. It’s an about-face from most of last year, when recession-weary consumers took a pass on the company’s pricy caramel macchiatos, opting instead for cheaper fare from the likes of Tim Hortons and Dunkin’ Donuts. “I think there certainly has been a turn in the economy and the restaurant industry is starting to see it,” says Doug Fisher, president of FHG International Inc., a food service and franchise consulting firm based in Toronto. He called Starbucks a “cheap luxury” for many people. “Maybe I’m not ready to go out for a Ruth’s Chris steak, but a more expensive coffee I can fit into the budget.”
By macleans.ca - Monday, December 14, 2009 at 12:16 PM - 0 Comments
A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF GRAEME McDOWELL
A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF GRAEME McDOWELL
The tabloids aren’t the only ones profiting from the Tiger Woods scandal. When the planet’s best golfer (and allegedly worst husband) dropped out of the Chevron World Challenge, McDowell was offered his spot as a last-minute replacement. The Irishman, who was in China when the phone call came in, jumped on a plane to California—and proceeded to play some inspiring golf. He finished second, pocketed the fattest cheque of his career, and shot up to 38th in the world rankings.
The correct verdict
The family of the late Robert Dziekanski can take some solace in a scathing report from the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, which concluded that the Mounties who Tasered him, leading to his death, acted inappropriately. “I found that the conduct of the responding members fell short of that expected . . . of the
RCMP,” wrote commission
head Paul Kennedy. We are still left wondering why it took two years to reach a conclusion that most Canadians understood the first time they saw the infamous amateur video of the Oct. 14, 2007, incident at Vancouver International Airport: the four RCMP officers involved acted with cruelty and brutality, leading to the death of an innocent man.
What swine flu?
Finally, some reassuring news about the swine flu pandemic. The number of confirmed cases in Canada appears to have peaked, and demand for the H1N1 flu shot is so low that some cities, including Toronto and Winnipeg, are shutting down public clinics. After a shaky start to Canada’s mass vaccination program—and countless horror stories about day-long lineups and ﬂu shot shortages—it looks like our inoculation efforts may have been effective. Then again, maybe we just got lucky. A new U.S. study has found that the H1N1 strain is much less severe than originally thought.
A coffee a day …
Great news for all you coffee lovers—male and female. A new U.S. study found that a cup of joe may cut a man’s risk of prostate cancer by up to 60 per cent, while a separate study concluded that moderate coffee consumption (up to four cups a day) reduces the risk of coronary heart disease in women. In other coffee news, yet another study suggests that, contrary to popular thinking, drinking coffee will not help sober you up after a night of heavy drinking. In fact, it might actually make you feel more drunk. Of course, blurry vision seems a small price to pay for a healthy prostate or a strong heart.
Welcome to the digital world, New Denver, B.C. The tiny village (pop. 600) has lost its battle to ban cellphone provider Telus from servicing its community. Some residents tried to paint the company as a “corporate bully” and complained that installing a phone transmitter would damage New Denver’s bucolic way of life. Industry Canada disagreed and gave Telus the go-ahead—which is good news for all New Denverites who do want cell service. As for the town’s rustics, well, no one’s forcing them to sign up for a three-year plan.
Great gall of China
As public scoldings go, it was harsh. Standing in the same room as Stephen Harper, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao snidely remarked that it had been five years since a Canadian prime minister visited Beijing—“too long a time,” in his opinion. Harper, of course, has been frosty with China since taking ofﬁce, refusing to ignore human rights abuses in the name of trade. But Jiabao’s rebuke was both petty and counterproductive. Harper travelled to China to mend fences, not to be lectured by a Communist dictator.
Osama bin hiding
An additional 30,000 U.S. troops are preparing to touch down in Afghanistan, all part of Barack Obama’s “surge” strategy. Here’s hoping one of those soldiers stumbles across Osama bin Laden. Eight years after 9/11, the search for the world’s most wanted man is ice cold. U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones said this week what the White House has been saying for years: bin Laden is probably hiding in the lawless outskirts of western Pakistan, and may be slipping periodically into Afghanistan. But Defense Secretary Bill Gates was less certain, saying the U.S. has lacked reliable intelligence on bin Laden for a long time. (“I think it has been years,” he said.) Too bad Osama wasn’t fooling around with Tiger Woods. The paparazzi would have found him by now.
No cameras, please
Speaking of ruthless photographers, Queen Elizabeth has written a stern note to Britain’s tabloids, threatening legal action if they continue to snap shots of the royal family while they’re “off duty.” According to Buckingham Palace, “the letter was sent to editors in response to many years of the royal family being hounded by photographers on the Queen’s private property.” The actual content of the letter is unknown (it was marked “private and not for publication”), but no matter what it says, don’t expect Fleet Street to stand down. They may be merciless, but the paparazzi are right about one thing: when you’re royalty, there is no such thing as “off duty.”
Say it ain’t so, Roy
At press time, Roy Halladay was still a Toronto Blue Jay. But as trade rumours continue to swirl, it now seems certain that the face of Canada’s baseball franchise—and arguably the best pitcher in the game today—has played his last game in a Toronto uniform. If that proves true, we wish Doc nothing but the best. During his 12 seasons as a Blue Jay, he collected 146 wins, six all-star game nods, and one Cy Young award. What he wants now is a chance to pitch in the playoffs, and he deserves it. But please, Roy, grant your fans one last favour: don’t sign with the Yankees.
FACE OF THE WEEK
By Jacob Richler - Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 1:00 PM - 20 Comments
A food critic spends a few happy weeks with a new espresso maker and its tasting box
Earlier this year in Montreal a new café opened on Crescent Street near Sherbrooke Street. This in itself is not especially exciting news, but then the Nespresso Boutique Bar is no ordinary café—as you will know if you’ve ever dropped in on the two-storey six-salon Nespresso Club alongside the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysées, or closer to home, the chic branch on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.
If you have not, this is what you need to know. In 1970, the Nestlé company’s R & D division did for espresso coffee exactly what they had done in 1938 for regular café filtre: they rendered it instant and effortless, and while they were at it, dispensed with the messy pot, too. The trick of it was to vacuum-seal individual portions of coffee in special capsules designed for a purpose-specific machine. The system was patented in 1976, went to market in Europe a decade later, and now—just 20-odd years on—accounts for over 17 per cent of the espresso machines sold worldwide, and counting. And for all that the local onslaught is still recent. In Canada, the machines first went on sale in 2005; and the Nespresso Bar in Montreal is only the third location to open in North America, after New York and Boston. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 11:28 PM - 0 Comments
“A video camera captured Sen. Clinton (D-NY) inspecting the coffee maker and trying to figure out how it works. After several moments of fiddling with the machine, Clinton gave up on the idea of getting a hot cup of coffee herself.”
“Among the interrogatories that Judge Douglas propounded to me at Freeport, there was one in about this language: ‘Are you opposed to the acquisition of any further territory to the United States, unless slavery shall first be prohibited therein?’ I answered as I thought, in this way, that I am not generally opposed to the acquisition of additional territory, and that I would support a proposition for the acquisition of additional territory, according as my supporting it was or was not calculated to aggravate this slavery question amongst us. I then proposed to Judge Douglas that we go out and get a cup of Joe. Continue…