Starbucks and Canada go a long way back.
The company opened its first store outside of the U.S. at the Seabus Skytrain Station in Vancouver, B.C. in 1987. This humble café, which continues to serve customers today, set the stage for Starbucks international growth.
Today, Starbucks is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in Canada, with more than 1,400 stores and nearly 26,000 partners (employees) who proudly wear the green apron.
Canadians even have a coffee named just for them - by them. In 2012, Canadians got their first taste of Starbucks® Blonde Roast coffee, which saw significant response from customers who embrace a milder, easier drinking blend. Nearly a year later in 2013, to celebrate the resounding success of Starbucks® Blonde Roast in Canada, Starbucks Canada invited coffee lovers across the country to submit new and uniquely Canadian names for its Starbucks Blonde® Veranda Blend®. This marked the first time globally that the company launched a major re-naming and packaging re-design for one of its coffee blends based on consumer submissions and popular vote. After more than 60,000 contest submissions and nearly 25,000 votes, Canadians crowned the blend Starbucks True North Blend™.
An approachable, easy-drinking coffee and perfectly suited for Canadian palates, this blend was inspired by the lightly roasted coffees customers enjoyed together over the years – mellow but flavourful with notes of toasted nuts and milk chocolate, and specially crafted to complement milk and flavours. Both customers and partners continue to embrace Starbucks® lighter roast coffee with the launch of Starbucks Green Apron Blend earlier this year – a coffee for partners by partners.
According to the winning essay submission, the name True North was “subtly patriotic and reflective of where the hearts of Canadians are.”
"Canadians know, deep in their hearts, that they have an affinity to and for the 'True North,' strong and free…wherever they are in the world,” the essay read. “What sets us apart is a quiet confidence, pride of heritage, being comfortable with our surroundings, an approachable nature, and the ability to not take things too seriously (some might even say mellow) …unless it has to do with hockey, and even then, we might politely apologize for it. Canada is a country, yes, but above all it is a community where neighbours share experiences, passions, and experiences…usually over a good cup of coffee."
"We take great pride in having a Starbucks coffee to call our own and represent this culturally rich land for both our customers and our partners,” says Lori Digulla, general manager of Starbucks Canada. “Anniversaries, such as these, are a great way to look at the accomplishments of the past but also the bright future and possibilities ahead. Alongside our partners, our customers, and our communities through every cup and every connection, we believe we can unlock the limitless future of Starbucks in Canada together.”
Ten years later, while some things have evolved for Canada’s beloved True North Blend, such as the coffee packaging to highlight the natural beauty of Canada, or how it’s enjoyed with the launch of more at-home or on-the-go options like Starbucks VIA Instant True North, the words “True North” still evoke a sense of place for Canadians.
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Starbucks True North Blend, we asked Starbucks partners across the country to tell us what their #MyTrueNorthIs. Whether it’s the connection to the great outdoors, supporting the community or connecting with each other and their customers, watch this video to hear what our partners had to share.