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Tim Hortons' extra-large coffee to get even larger

Number 8: Tim Hortons

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Your usual coffee order is about to get bigger.

Tim Hortons is renaming its hot beverage sizes to make way for the introduction of a new 24-ounce "extra large" cup. Starting next Monday, a small eight-ounce coffee will be renamed "extra small," a medium will be referred to as "small," and a large will be renamed "medium." The current biggest size, a 20-ounce extra large, will be reduced in title to a mere "large."

Dave McKay, Tim Hortons's director of brand marketing for beverages, says the company is making the change in response to customer demand.

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"It's really about what our guests have been asking for," he says, noting the company tested the new sizes in two trial markets in Ontario last year to determine whether anyone was interested in buying 24-ounce beverages. "And really, there was a resounding yes."

The company says the prices per volume will not change.

The move exemplifies a general creep toward ever larger portion sizes. Last year, Starbucks introduced a new 31-ounce "Trenta" cup size for its cold beverages across the United States.

Tim Hortons's new size labels will now match the company's larger coffee servings in the U.S., where the company has stopped offering the eight-ounce cup altogether because of a lack of consumer interest. "The sales were so small, we removed it from the menu," Mr. McKay says. (There are no plans to remove it in Canada.)

For those watching their waistlines, the shift in portion sizes can be troublesome.

Toronto registered dietitian Shauna Lindzon says coffee retailers' variations in sizes make it confusing for consumers to keep track of how much they drink. Dietitians typically refer to a cup of coffee as eight ounces, and Health Canada advises Canadians to consume no more than 400 milligrams, or three eight-ounce cups of coffee worth of caffeine a day.

But depending on what size of coffee they order, people who think they're drinking only two or three cups of coffee a day may actually be drinking far more.

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"People underestimate how much caffeine they're taking in," Ms. Lindzon says.

She also noted that some specialty coffees are laden with sugar, whipped cream and flavourings, and the calories quickly add up.

"It's almost like you're drinking a dessert as opposed to having a beverage," Ms. Lindzon says, adding that coffee drinkers "may be having as many calories as they consumed in a meal and not realize it."

According to Tim Hortons's online nutritional information, a 10-ounce double-double (coffee with two creams and two sugars) contains around 100 mg of caffeine and about 150 calories.

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