Speaking Canadian – Ordering Coffee

I was talking to a coworker who recently came from Poland about coffee. Midway through the conversation, she suddenly asked me, “How do you order coffee from Tim Horton’s with just milk?”

“Well… A small coffee with 1 milk,” I replied.

“Really? Because at Timothy’s, I ask for a regular medium coffee and they give me a medium black coffee of their normal roast. But, I guess that’s because they have that bar with the milk and sugar to make your drink yourself, right?”

I told her that, yes, most coffee places that have that milk and sugar island typically serve coffee black and let you customize it yourself. I never really realized that ordering coffee at Tim’s (or other fast-food franchises) is so different in Canada!

Here’s a handy guide to ordering a cuppa joe in one of Canada’s most popular coffee chain:

Extra Small – 8oz (some places might not stock this size)
Small – 10oz
Medium – 14oz
Large – 20oz
Extra Large – 24oz

Black – Simply coffee
Regular – 1 cream, 1 sugar
Double-Double – 2 creams, 2 sugars
Triple-Triple – 3 creams, 3 sugars

Only sugar – 1/2/3 sugars
Only cream/milk – 1/2/3 cream/milk

So, an order would typically sound something like: “Hi, I’d like a medium double-double, a small regular and a large with 2 milks, please.”

The person would get:

  1. 14oz coffee with 2 creams, 2 sugars
  2. 10oz coffee with 1 cream, 1 sugar
  3. 20oz coffee with 2 milks, no sugar

They use automatic dispensing machines for their sugar and cream, so a small triple-triple would be mostly cream, sugar and a liiiiiiiiittle bit of coffee and a lot of diabetes in a cup.

I’ve also learned that if you want MILK instead of cream, you have to specifically ask for it because their machines only contain cream as a norm. For all you health-conscious people out there, be careful when you’re ordering from Tim’s!

The phrase “double-double” has been so ingrained in Canadian culture that it’s almost universally understood throughout the country at any coffee store. Even if you order a coffee at McDonald’s or a small cafe, the cashier or barista will instantly understand what a “double-double” order means and make you a rich, sugary coffee.

I usually just get a small regular, though. How about you?




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