09/29/2014 12:23 EDT | Updated 09/29/2014 12:59 EDT

International Coffee Day: Tim Hortons Explains Why It's Important To Slurp Your Coffee

In honour of International Coffee Day, Huffington Post Canada brings you a glimpse into the art behind Tim Hortons coffee.

And yes, there is an art, a really intense one actually, that involves a lot of sniffing, slurping and spitting.

The first time the beans are tested for quality is when they're still in their country of origin. If Tim Hortons senior coffee master (yes, that's his title) Kevin West and his team approve, the bags are shipped to a state-of-the-art plant in Ancaster, Ont.

The plant can hold up to 10,000 bags of coffee at one time, but the bags rarely sit in the facility longer than two weeks before they begin the 10-day process from beans sitting in a bag to the brew in your cardboard cup at your local Timmys.

We were invited to a coffee tasting with West, a man who once tasted around 700 cups of coffee in one day (he had to pull over on the side of the highway due to heart palpitations). He and his team taste (or “cup” in coffee lingo) some 75,000 cups of coffee per person per year.

West is super serious about coffee. You could say it’s in his blood: his dad was also a coffee man and taught his son the art of identifying the perfect brew. And don’t ask him how he takes his coffee; he’s a purist, not a double-double man.

Tim Hortons is still using the original, 50-year-old top secret recipe handed down by the legendary hockey player himself. Its signature taste is a blend crafted through a combination of beans from three to six different coffee-growing regions mixed in varying proportions to hit the right flavour balance. That’s about as much as they’d tell us.

After half a decade of offering a single option for coffee drinkers, the company was eager to show us the art and science behind their new dark roast (the art is blending the right beans, while the science is achieving the perfect roast).

And of the more than 1,000 different flavour notes the coffee masters use to describe the tastes, West tells us the new blend offers hints of citrus, cocoa and earthy tones with a rounded body. And while we might not have his acute coffee sensibilities, we certainly tried our best to taste what he was tasting.

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