Since Tim Hortons first launched its Dark Roast in 2014, customers have been saying the same thing: they love the taste and smoothness, but they could handle sipping something stronger.

After an extensive testing period spanning 45 roast trials, Tim Hortons is proud to be serving a new bolder, richer and stronger Dark Roast that promises to pack the punch guests craved.

We sat down with Kevin West, Head of Coffee Operations for Tim Hortons, to learn more about the re-re-launch of Dark Roast that’s a response to what guests had been asking for.

Q: Tell us about why you developed a new Dark Roast.

A:  We heard very loud and clear from our guests that the strength of our Dark Roast wasn’t delivering on what they wanted from a Dark Roast experience. They liked the taste but wanted more strength. They wanted a bolder flavour — and they’ve got it in our new Dark Roast.

Q: Talk about why you went through 45 roast trials to find the flavour you were looking for.

A: I’ll be very honest, we were a bit worried about being able to up the boldness and still maintain the smoothness that Tims is known for. We spent a lot of time making adjustments for roast and “weight” of the coffee — which refers to the ratio of coffee to water in each cup. The new Dark Roast has considerably more coffee weight.

For roasting, we changed the “thumbprint” as we like to call it. We roasted our coffee beans longer and darker than before, which is a delicate, exacting process to get just right. So 45 trials sounds like a lot — and it is! — but it was about making very small adjustments here and there and trying again and again and again to get that perfect blend.

Q: It sounds like you must’ve drank a lot of coffee while testing!

A: I had to stop because I was getting palpitations! But seriously, it wasn’t so much during testing that I was drinking a lot of it, our testing process — which we call cuppings — involves taking sips to taste the flavour and spitting out the coffee afterwards. It was after we found our final new Dark Roast blend that I started going a little crazy and drinking a lot of it. I was so thrilled by the flavour that I honestly couldn’t stop drinking it.

Q: How would you describe the flavour?

A: It’s a really, really complex coffee. If you really focus on the flavours and what you’re tasting, there are some real deep chocolate notes. You get the cedar note that comes from the Sumatra beans. The body is a full body. You’ll have a hint of fruit or floral notes coming out of the Colombian coffee in the blend. But most importantly, it’s really bold and rich and yet really smooth.

A lot of people think of a dark roast and think of a burnt or bitter flavour. I’m so happy with our Dark Roast, we’ve nailed it, we’ve maintained the smoothness and we’re delivering on a richer, bolder dark.

Q: You mentioned beans from Sumatra and Colombia, tell me more about the beans in the Dark Roast.

A: It starts with having a team that sources some of the best coffee beans in the world. We’re really fortunate to be starting with some amazing coffees and being able to refine the flavour profile. We source our premium 100% Arabica beans from places like Colombia and Guatemala and Sumatra that are renowned for growing some of the best coffee beans on the planet. When coffee is grown at high altitudes and low temperatures, it results in richer, more delicate and more flavourful coffee. It’s the beans from Sumatra that make the Dark Roast and a deliver a difference experience than the Original Blend.

Q: How do you take your Tims coffee?

A: I’m a three-coffees-a-day guy and it really depends on my mood, I usually switch up the blend — but always black! First thing in the morning I used to drink the Original Blend pretty religiously and maybe have a Dark Roast later in the day. But I’m still hooked on the new Dark Roast so my routine is probably going to change.