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Hell With The Lid Off: Coffee Drinkers' Plight Exposed In Canada

"Is this coffee, or is this Fight Club?" That's the question Bryan Hansen of Calgary, Canada, says he asked himself after his coffee lid betrayed him — yet again — leading him to fire off a letter of complaint to the Tim Hortons café chain, sending it to the attention of its "Lid Manager."

Hansen's fiercely funny note won fans on Reddit and elsewhere, as fellow customers stood up to say they, too, had been suffering in (scalded) silence because of the coffee and pastry stores' flip-top lids.

"Have you ever tried pulling open your lid in a vehicle, setting the coffee down, and then turning a corner?" Hansen asks, before answering his own rhetorical question: "Disastrous."

He goes on:

"The only current solution? Charring your throat by chugging half a hot coffee so there's enough room in the cup to avoid spills while driving. Sure, I could wait until I've safely arrived at my destination, but I am an entitled, first-world, upper-middle class Canadian and I will not stand to be told what to do, no matter how sensible. There is no room between where the lid ends and the coffee begins. 'Flush' is a term best left for toilets and poker games — not when describing your coffee-to-lid height."

As you can tell, Hansen approached the matter with an awareness that his is not the world's biggest problem.

The Canadian Press news agency describes Hansen as a 28-year-old environmental consultant, who was driven to complain after coffee spilled onto his truck's newly detailed interior this week. He tells the agency's Michelle McQuigge that when that happened, he "kind of had a flashback to every time that it's ever happened."

After Hansen posted an image of his letter on Reddit, a commenter imparted what seems to qualify as a pro tip: Tim Hortons stores have two types of lids.

"The lids Tim's uses for their specialty drinks and lattes and stuff are better than the regular lids," wrote the user known as Firep4nts. They then mused, "McDonald's lids are awesome. Drinking their coffee is like making out with a supermodel."

Hansen told Hortons officials that he's going part-time on their coffee, to give all parties a bit of a break. And he wants the company to use the time wisely — by researching new lid designs. He notes that McDonald's seems to have it figured out.

"I realize there are likely patent issues to skirt around," Hansen tells the company. He adds, "you have the resources, make me proud."

The conversation expanded to Tim Hortons' Facebook page, where several people who say they're longtime customers also said they were longtime sufferers of burnt laps and stained shirts. Many took to all-caps to make their displeasure clear.

According to the Canadian Press, Hansen took the Reddit user's advice to heart and ordered a coffee with the lid intended for a latte.

"I ordered one with a latte lid this morning and it almost solved the problem for me," Hansen says. "I was really impressed."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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