Check it out: Tim Hortons gets in with the coffee snobs

The chain promoted its new lattes by infiltrating a trendy neighbourhood with a hip, minimalist cafe.

Latte pop-up shop (3)

A pop-up café in a trendy Toronto neighbourhood has revealed to the people who have visited it so far that they’ve actually been drinking lattes from the country’s largest coffee chain.

On April 5, a coffee shop called “Perfectly Uncomplicated Lattes” opened in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood, a place known to be home to the type of people who would self-identify as a “coffee snob.” The café – which took the small business route in promoting itself, using nothing more than social media accounts to promote its impending opening – appeared to pride itself on the simplicity of its drinks, using nothing more than espresso beans and steamed milk to let the quality of the coffee stand on its own.

Latte pop-up shop (2)Today, it was revealed that while the emphasis on a simple latte remained, the coffee shop was actually from Tim Hortons when its logo was put up on the signage and decor of the space. To celebrate the reveal, the cafe will be giving out free drinks all day today.

Ogilvy was the creative agency on the campaign and worked with Geometry Global the launch the pop-up, with Citizen Relations on PR and North Strategic handling digital.

The reveal of the cafe is to promote the impending of Tim Hortons’ new latte nation-wide on April 26, which were tested in locations in Vancouver and London late last year.

Tim Hortons made its first attempt to compete in the more upscale coffee market in 2011 when it first began selling cappuccino and lattes. However, those drinks were made from powdered mixes, whereas the new lattes are made from fresh ground beans and steamed milk. They are also made with new espresso machines that have been purchased by over 3,500 restaurants across Canada, which The Globe and Mail reported last year cost $12,000 each.

The move comes as Tim Hortons’ competitors in the coffee space have also made moves to bring a more high-quality offering to customers. For example, Starbucks has made efforts to improve the quality of the beans it sources, while McDonald’s has been investing in its McCafé brand, including launching stand-alone McCafé locations.

While Tim Hortons is responding to demand for higher-quality coffee, the emphasis for the new latte – as the café execution suggests – is around simplicity, bringing premium beverages to Canadians more comfortable in a more mainstream restaurant than a high-end coffee shop.

“We are proud to have been brewing Canada’s favourite coffee for more than 50 years, so naturally our team was in pursuit of excellence when it came to delivering the perfect latte to our guests at a great price,” said Sami Siddiqui, president of Tim Hortons Canada, in a press release. “Our latte is perfectly uncomplicated – it’s easy to order and hand-crafted with two simple ingredients. We are confident that our guests across the country will love Canada’s new favourite latte.”

The café will remain open until April 26, and all proceeds from sales will go to the Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation.