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Tim Hortons to launch new coffee blend sourced from Latin American partnership

Tim Hortons shareholders line up at a Tim Hortons stand during the company’s AGM on May 10, 2013.

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

Tim Hortons Inc. is launching a new blend of packaged coffee sourced from its partnership with coffee farmers in Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil and Colombia.

The restaurant chain will announce on Wednesday its inaugural Partnership Blend brew, its first product sourced solely from the partnership it struck more than eight years ago to improve the lives of coffee farmers in those markets.

The new blend is still a medium-body coffee, which is the same is its regular brew, but balanced with "subtle yet complex notes of cocoa and nuttiness," the company said in a statement.

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Sold in a 343-gram bag at many Tim Hortons restaurants in Canada, the coffee costs $7.69, with $1 from each purchase going to support the partnership.

The initiative comes as Tim Hortons is about to get a new chief executive officer – Marc Caira – after a two-year search. In the meantime, Paul House, a previous CEO and soon-to-be chairman, has served in the role since Don Schroeder left unexpectedly in 2011.

Tim Hortons is focused on holding on to its top spot in the restaurant coffee market as it faces rising competition and a demanding U.S. hedge-fund investor in a soft economy.

Last week, Mr. House agreed to look into some, but not all, of Highfields Capital Management's demands, including looking at a new franchising system for the U.S. stores to improve their performance.

In introducing its new Partnership Blend coffee this week, Tim Hortons said its work with small coffee farmers follows years of technical support and education, as well as an investment of about $7-million.

"Through our partnership projects, we have been working directly with farmers in the regions where we source our coffee to help them improve farming practices, produce higher volumes and better quality coffee while respecting the environment," said Bill Moir, chief brand and marketing officer at Tim Hortons. "We have seen our approach become critically important to small-scale farmers in Latin America, especially as they have been facing changing growing conditions over the past years."

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About the Author
Retailing Reporter

Marina Strauss covers retailing for The Globe and Mail's Report on Business. She follows a wide range of topics in the sector, from the fallout of foreign retailers invading Canada to how a merchant such as the Swedish Ikea gets its mojo. She has probed the rise and fall (and revival efforts) of Loblaw Cos., Hudson's Bay and others. More

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