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Timothy's Coffee issues

This is my third posting for this on chowhound, maybe I need an editor?

Yesterday I had an interesting experience at Timothy’s Coffee on Eglinton Ave near Kipling. Had time to kill so I thought I have a coffee, so I made my way to Timothy’s. While waiting in line, the server spilled a coffee, so I had a minute or two and was standing in front of the dessert display case and though what the heck I’ll have something. I have been feeling rather good lately, so I placed my order and asked for a date square. I took my coffee and date square and sat by the window.

I open my date square and it was huge, I thought that it was half that size. I took a bite and I was very surprised by the lack of flavour. I eat dates almost daily; they have very good anti-inflammatory properties, and as a baker I have made date square’s many times. This date square did not taste anything like dates, nor was it overly sweet. The filling was very dark almost black in colour. For the life of me I cannot describe the flavour of this date square, it was very tasteless expect for a pasty feeling in the mouth, I suppose from the margarine in the oat/flour/brown sugar bottom and top. Bravely I tried a second bite, to make sure that it was not me, it was not me. This date square had little flavour aside from the bottom and top.

Now I had nothing to wash down the odd flavour in my mouth, the coffee was still ripping hot. Also, I just paid almost $7.00 for a coffee and dessert, and was not able to eat or drink anything. The coffee was fine after it cooled down enough to drink, but the 10-15 minutes with that strange taste in my mouth was not going to do. So I waited for the line to finish and I went up to the counter to express my concerns with what Timothy’s is passing off as a date square.

The woman that served me was standing at the counter and I said that there was a problem with the date square. A different woman answered me; I guess she was the manager or owner. I said that this does not taste anything like a date square. In a very stern and confrontational voice she assured me that indeed it was a date square. I tried to explain that not only did I not see any dates but could not taste any dates. Again with a much more stern and confrontational voice she assured me that indeed it was a date square. To which I said that I know s!%t when I taste it, and this so called date square was just that. She said that she did not need to listen to that kind of language. I agreed and left.

I am ok dealing with people that are rude, condescending and the like. However, stress is not very good for me, and as such I try to avoid stressful circumstances as much as possible, hence why I walked out. The money is an issue for me, but when I worked in restaurants or bakeries and I ever treated a customer like I was treated I would deserve to be fired on the spot. I have made many mistakes, some that the customer made me aware of, I thank them and made sure they left happy. I left in a hurry hoping that this would not trigger a relapse, and thankfully it didn’t.

The woman could have had a bad day, but she could have also treated me much differently. And of course I could have chosen my words better. I was responding to her condescending tone with me. After all who I am? I’m just the customer who pays for her business to function. If the date square remotely had a date flavour I would have been ok. I was not excepting butter and toasted oats from Scotland. But I was excepting to taste dates.

While I was driving to my meeting I remembered back when I was in cooking school. We had a health inspector come in and he told us that they would purchase veal sandwiches at different places and take them back to the lab to see if there was any veal in the sandwiches. If I recall correctly, only 20% where made with veal, the rest where something else and one had no meat at all! I don’t believe that Timothy’s date squares don’t have dates, or at least I hope, so I tried to find the ingredients for Timothy’s date squares.

Starbucks has a listing on the internet for all their food stuff and ingredients. I wish I could find such a listing for Timothy’s Coffee. I looked at Timothy’s web site and they do list what they sell and they do have nutritional info for the coffee drinks. But nothing for the baked goods, nothing for the nutritional or the ingredients is listed. So I’m not really sure what I ate with those two bites yesterday.

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  1. I'm pretty sure that each Timothy's gets their baked goods from a different supplier. I buy coffee at the one at Yonge & Finch almost every day (for my boss) and in the past had sometimes bought myself a muffin/cake treat. Until the time there was a 6" long hair wrapped up in my brownie. That was last time. I think at this particular location they are getting their stuff from someone who bakes at home, because it looks like the stuff is wrapped in saran wrap from the grocery store, and it is not "professionally" wrapped Also, there is no consistency to what they have on offer, sometimes there are danishes, etc., sometimes not. And many times their stuff is not fresh. I don't believe they get a delivery every day. (The goods come in a big cardboard box). So most likely whoever is doing their baking, is cutting corners to save some $$$

    1 Reply
    1. re: barneyvernon

      No I am fairly sure that the date squares come from one bakery for this region. Timothy's not unlike Starbucks, will at least in the same region, may use different suppliers for different products, but to keep everything consistent, they will use the same supplier for date squares for all the stores, and the same supplier for muffins and so and so on... The bakery will send their goods to a central location, and from there each store will receive what ever they ordered/require. And yes I do agree that the baker is cutting corners, but that is not necessarily the bakers fault. Timothy's wants a product at a certain cost, and this is what Timothy's went with.

    2. You probably were in fact dealing with the franchisee or owner.

      Although there is no excuse for rudeness in the service sector and if I had been treated the same way I probably would have smeared it all over the door as I left, you can't really blame her.

      Timothy's is a dying breed. That location is right next to a Second Cup and they split a very weak customer base. The poor franchisee is probably losing her shirt and Timothy's network probably doesn't support its franchisee's as well as other more prolific chains.

      I am sure she is just holding on until a Starbucks opens nearby.

      1. I knew a Second Cup franchise owner and I remember being told that one bakery supplies all three cafes for at least some of their baked goods: Starbucks, Second Cup, and Timothy's. So while these (Toronto-area) cafes may not carry the same products, at least a few of their products are supplied by the same Toronto bakery. At least that's how it was about 5 years ago so things might have changed.

        1. I was hoping that someone would commit on Timothy's date square. How the product gets from the bakery to the store is not my issue. The lack of dates in the square and the rude person who I tried to speak about this are my issues. Or am I the only person who has question the black filling in the date squares?

          1. I've never had a good pastry / snack at timothys. Much of their stuff looks super yummy sitting in the display case, but once you bite into it most of the stuff is greasy, has no flavour, and is stale.
            I've had this happen repeatedly - so now I don't bother getting any snacks there, no matter how good they look.

            2 Replies
            1. re: cubmike74

              Thank you cubmike74, I was beginning to feel alone. I understand how Mc Foods are sold all over. But I fear that this is worse than Mc Food, I could not taste or see any dates!

              I have called Timothy's head office, left my name, phone number, and why I called. I don't except Timothy's to call me back. Nor do I see Timothy's changing anything with what they are passing off as a date square. I will stay away from Timothy's from now on.

              1. re: Pastryrocks

                It's likely that the plastic wrap is done within each store, to attempt to extend the life of each pastry or baked good, which might explain the Mickey Mouse job done with the plastic wrap.

                If it's any consolation to you, many years ago (upwards of 15) my mother and I were at the Future Bakery that used to be located across the road from Delisle Court (Yonge and Heath). My mother bought a date square, took a couple of bites and promptly chomped down on an entire, intact pit. She could have broken a tooth and is very lucky she didn't. She mentioned it, not really expecting much more than an apology, but the server (definitely not an owner or manager), shrugged and showed utter indifference. Even if she'd paid lip service to us and said she'd let the baker know, it would have been something. Just showing you give a crap when a customer tries to bring a concern to your attention goes a long way. We weren't seeking a refund or replacement pastry. The whole experience soured us on the Future Bakery.

                I should add that I've bought cheese scones over the years at both the Second Cup and Timothy's and not only are they identical, they are often in the display long past the fresh stage.

            2. Went on Timothy’s web site and called a number to speak to someone about this. Someone did call me back and gave me a different number to call. If I understand correctly, the number I called no longer deals with complaints for Timothy’s, even though it is on Timothy’s web site. I called the new number and someone answered saying something about Timothy’s Coffee’s of the world. I guess I found the right place.

              Spoke with the woman who was nice and tried to explain why and what happen at Timothy’s. She was more concerned with the service; nothing was said about the Date Square. I was much more interested in the Date Square and did it actually have any dates in it?

              The lady took my information down and said that she would pass it along.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Pastryrocks

                Playing devil's advocate a little, it IS a date square. But, obviously, it is more of a supplier issue than the cafe's.
                Who knows, it could've been your tone of voice or "choice of words".

                Consider the poor quality a Timothy's offer and the clientele in the area, I'm sure the manager is immune to all the complainers (no excuse, of course).

                1. re: Pastryrocks

                  My wife had a similar issue with a blueberry square (that she said tasted like vaseline) at a Starbucks on Yonge St. Thing is, you're asking for REAL products from a CHAIN store that is all about the bottom line instead of quality. I find when you get real quality in these places, it's luck of the draw (a dedicated barista or what have you) I know the counter staff were rude and there's no excuse for their behaviour, but I think you're asking a lot from a place that's not necessarily prepared to give it.

                  Try to find a nice ma and pa place in the area that cares about the product they produce. It might take some searching, but anything is better than this.

                2. sorry, but kinda have to agree that if I was working there that day, I'd think you were crazy too..You can see the pastry you are buying..it's a coffee shop, not a gourmet pastry destination restaurant....not sure what more you expect?
                  ..and actually i have to say i've had the skor brownie there and thought it was really good.
                  i tend to keep my expectations low when dealing with a simple chain coffee place..just a suggestion.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: burlgurl

                    I thank you for your suggestion. I don't expect much from a date square, but I do expect it to taste like it had some dates in it.I don't think that is too high of a exception or crazy.

                    1. re: Pastryrocks

                      I find this thread very amusing. You bought a date square for a couple bucks at a mass-market chain store where everyone gets paid minimum wage and the focus is on volume not on the quality of individual products.It's not like you spent 150 bucks on a meal at a high-end reataurant. So you got a lousy date square. I think your expectation should be in line with the type of place you bought it from and furthermore the amount of discussion about this date square should be proportional to what you spent on it and that is not much.

                      When I go to mass market coffee shops, which is very rare, they always meet my expectations because I don't expect much and that's exactly what I get.

                      1. re: Flexitarian

                        I also did not have high expectations. I knew without a doubt that there would be no butter. I also knew that the filling would not be 100% dates. Forgive me for expecting a date square to taste like it had some dates in it. I should have kept the bag to find out if there were any dates in it. As it stands, Timothy has no proof that their date square has any dates either; I have been unable to find any list of ingredients for any of the foods they sell.

                        There are three business making money from those ‘date’ squares, the bakery, Timothy’s Corp. and the franchiser, not to mention all the workers. From farm to the store to my mouth, there are many people making a living off that date square.

                        It is not a question of money, but rather value and principle. If I went to Ma Masion and paid $4.00 for a croissant, I would say that is money well spend. Does that mean it tastes good, no taste is subjective. Timothy’s date square does not taste like it has dates in it, it is tasteless except for the oats and whatever fat they use, that is not subjective. The $3.00 for the very large dateless date square is a rip off imo.

                        Have I been ripped off before, yes I have, will I be ripped off again, sure I will. Does that mean that I should just sit there and take it? The $3.00 loss is not the end of the world for me, I will go on. If the woman had shown any amount of empathy and not defended the tasteless date square, and offered my something else, I would have been OK.

                        My issue is with the company that are selling a date square that possibly has little or no dates in it at all. I fail to see why this is crazy nor do I see why I should allow any company to go on with duping me or the public.

                        1. re: Pastryrocks

                          Your situation is no different than ordering crab fingers. There is no crab in them yet the menu never says this. They are merely made of whitefish 'flavoured' like crab. And so your date square had no real dates but was flavoured like dates and it looks like poorly at that. End of story.

                          1. re: Flexitarian

                            Felexitarion I can appreciate your addition to what I have posted. However, my situation is much different than purchasing intimation crab. The crab has the ingredients listed on the bag, I don't know what the order is, but crab is not first. I can purchase the 'whitefish' or not. I am able to read, so I have the chance to see what I am purchasing. However, if you are OK with less than mediocre product, that is between you and your wallet.

                            I paid for a Cadillac and was excepting a Pinto, but instead I was given a donkey. If I sound crazy to you or anyone else, then I fear that people allowing companies to rip off people with less than mediocre goods only send one message. That it is OK.

                            Furthermore, yes $3.00 is not the end of the world. However, it is much more than just $3.00. I’m unsure how many Timothy’s sell this date square nor do I know how many are sold daily. One thing that I am sure is that it is more than $3.00 per day.

                          2. re: Pastryrocks

                            Unconsciously your original expectation for this given date square was likely set too high. Your taste buds are probably conditioned for any date containing products to have the taste of quality dates since you eat real dates often. This date square most likely contained some source of dates or flavour diluted so much that they are not detectable by taste buds.
                            On the issue of customer service, a bit of courtesy and empathy on both sides would have been nice. Working with the public is a very stressful job and you added stress to yourself and a fellow human being over a date square. Some things in life really just isn't worth focusing so much energy on. How would you have felt if you were on the other side of the counter having been spoken to the way you spoke.
                            Just a comment, not to add to your stress. :)

                            1. re: Entore

                              Why are so many posters favoring the Timothyy's operation? Wou;ld hope that CH would foster raising standards, not being satisfied with low standards. As to the attitude of the service staff, who cares if they have a crappy homelifeor day, thye are there to do a job! I don't care about their personal lives, it should not enter into the equation, even if they are paid minimum wage, especially with all the chat about escalating tip percentages lately. Jusat do th ejob, make sure date squares include dates!

                          3. re: Flexitarian

                            What strange logic that is. So if some place has chicken fingers on the menu but they are made of tofu, is that OK with you?

                            Pastry Rocks didn't buy an item called "something that looks like a date square but is not". They said they paid almost $7 for a coffee and date square. Since a coffee is about $1.50, I'd expect to get a real date square for $5. Is that too much to ask for? It's strange logic like I've seen in some of the responses to this thread that make it look like some of you think it's OK to pass off any old crap as food. I find it hard to believe that they can't sell a real date square for around $5. Obviously some of you think it should only have dog S#&*^ in it at that price.

                              1. re: foodyDudey

                                He did say it was a $3. date square and $7. for a coffee and dessert....so that means the coffee costed......

                                1. re: T Long

                                  I saw that PR mentioned " I just paid almost $7.00 for a coffee and dessert" in the original post, Even for $3, after a mark-up, they could still sell a real date square.

                                2. re: foodyDudey

                                  It certainly isn't okay with me. In fact, I was pissed when I realized years ago (when I wasn't a healthy eater) that those shrimp fingers and crab fingers I ate in restaurants had no shrimp or crab in them at all. In fact much of the 'crabmeat' you buy in stores isn't crab either. So, now I am a bit more cynical and don't assume anything until I read the label, call the company or question the staff.

                          4. It’s been a month and no one from Timothy’s has got in touch with me. Not that I excepted any change to the so called Date Square, I just thought that maybe Timothy’s would be interested in a customer who had a issue with their product and went to the trouble to call Timothy’s, I guess not.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Pastryrocks

                              I had the BLANDEST dark roast at Timothy's today. I admit to being a Starbucks customer and am used to strong flavoured coffee, but not by any means am I a snob or expert. The coffee I make at home is thru a french press and that is the standard.

                              When I took the cup back to the counter I was given a replacement from the same dispenser, so it tasted no different. The server dude said something like they do not burn their coffee like Starbucks and the reason for the flavour (or lack thereof in my opinion) is that they source their beans from all over...he asked if I wanted an espresso instead. So the customer service, while not stellar, was not a complete fail.

                              Two bucks is not a big deal but if I am going to go into a coffee store for a cuppa I expect to get something with more taste than instant. I was really disappointed. Maybe like some of the others here have stated it's important to manage my expectations...

                              Somehow I don't think I'll be contacting Timothy's to comment on their coffee, never mind get some kind of response.

                            2. I think 3$for a date square is quite expensive,considering it is from Timothy's.A Almond or chocolate croissant at my local pastry shop is 2.15$.Timothy's is a chain it should not cost that much,correct me is I am wrong but nothing at Starbucks costs more that 2.50$

                              Your story reminds me of the time I bought a beef patty expecting it to have ground beef,instead I got one filled with something I would describe as brown beef tasting jelly,one bite of this beef patty and hot liquid beef jelly burned my mouth and ran down my hand,so disappointing.

                              If you really want to know where they get their baked goods go to another Timothy's that has the date squares and ask what is their supplier.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Spanglo

                                I was at Yorkdale a couple of weeks ago and tried one of Timothy's date squares. It wasn't too bad and pretty good value as it must have weighed about a pound. The filling was cooked dates as far as I could tell (and I used to bake for a health food store during high school). My biggest criticism would be way too much of a way too sweet crumbly topping. There was about 3/4 of an inch of it.

                              2. Happen by Timothy’s the other day and was surprised to see a new date square. Of course I did not try it so I have no idea how it taste, once bitten twice shy. It is smaller in size and the oat base and top are a lot darker in colour (more fat) and the date mixture looks much different, I believe it actually has dates. Regarding my op I never received a call back from Timothy’s, I like to think that they knew why I called and felt that there was no need to call me, but I really doubt that this was the reason why they did not call me after trying to make a complainant, and I left my name and phone number.