The End of the Dollop, Courtesy of Halifax

Anyone who knows me knows that coffee figures into my daily routine. On a recent family trip, I had the opportunity to hunt for a decent cup each morning in a new location. I’d noticed in previous trips to Tim Hortons that they use a SureShot dispenser to ensure that every customer gets a uniform “double double”. It wasn’t until I was on the road that I started to see these same SureShot dispensers all over the place. The company that makes them is a Halifax, Nova Scotia-based company that seems to have quite a lock on this sort of dispenser. I’m not much into buying stocks, but if I was, this is a company I’d make sure I included in my portfolio! A machine that gives the correct cream and sugar proportions? How can you go wrong?

When I first encountered the Tim Horton’s “double double”, I wasn’t sure how they managed to make it happen so quickly.  Clearly it wasn’t just a server ripping open a couple of packets of sweetener and adding a skosh or dollop of cream or milk.  Then I noticed on one visit that the server slid the cup in front of a large silver box, and, hey presto, I had the right mixture for my double double.  The box had the SureShot label on it, and I’ve noticed these dispensers all over the place now.  On our trip out east, I saw them in McDonalds as well.  It was the first time I’d ordered coffee in a McDonalds and had the server fix it for me, rather than just pointing out the counter with the little creamers and sugar packets.

The dispensers make a lot of sense.  There’s probably a lot of waste in just making cream and sweetener available, so I can see why the bakery and coffee stores would want to have some control over the inventory.  The dispenser insures that the customer gets acceptable (and accurate) amounts of each.  No more eyeballing how much to put in the coffee – and whether it has turned the right color at the end.  I haven’t seen this at a Starbucks yet, which may indicate that a dispenser takes away from the mega-buck “experience” of drinking Starbucks’ excellent coffee.  But considering that they offer drive-thru windows too, I think the SureShots would make sense there as well.  I certainly like having someone add it for me before I walk away from the counter.  It’s much nicer than having to sort through a half dozen carafes labeled with cream, milk, half/half, etc., only to find the one you want to use empty.

A word on “sweeteners”.  I really don’t have any truck with anything but sugar.  It’s all natural and, in a packet, hardly more calories than any of the artificial products.  I like knowing that the sugar is just that, not something that was tested on a rat and has potential cancerous side effects.  So here’s to you, Gratia McConkey, long may we be able to enjoy pure cane sugar!

I wouldn’t mind a SureShot at home – one of the simple ones, if you’re shopping for me for Christmas! – because it does speed up the dispensing process.  On the other hand, I don’t drink THAT much coffee, and even if I did, whatever healthy margins there are in drinking coffee are probably enhanced by not adding creamer or sugar.