One of the nastiest looks I have ever received was from a research industry colleague after he had the temerity to order a “medium good” steak while we were having lunch.
What followed was a scathing denunciation of my long-held food preferences, along with the promise of a significantly better experience if I upgraded to “medium rare” instead. Reluctantly, I followed his advice. She was right.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was virtually impossible for Canadians to add the desired amount of milk, cream or other non-dairy products when buying coffee outside of their homes. While some chains already had a system in place to determine how much cream to add to a specific order, the fear of contagion presented a challenge for those who still wanted to maintain full control of the process.
As barbecue season begins to materialize and people head back to cafes, Research Co. and Glacier Media polled Canadians on their personal steak and coffee preferences. The survey provided a welcome pre-summer break from our usual concerns about politics, pandemic management and election predictions.
The online poll showed Canadians two photographs, one with five different slices of steak and another with nine different cups of coffee, and asked them to choose their favorite shades.
Let’s start with the beef. We found that 10% of Canadians don’t eat steak – rising to 14% among women, 14% among Ontarians and 28% among South Asians.
Our perception of the perfect steak varies considerably. Only 9% of Canadians chose Shade #1, which some describe as blue, while 21% chose Shade #2, the rare medium I had avoided for most of my life. More than a quarter (27%) opted for shade no. 3 or medium, 17% opted for shade no. 4 or medium well, and the same proportion (17%) chose shade no. 5 or well done.
There are clear regional variations at opposite ends of the steak spectrum. In British Columbia, just 5% of residents opted for well-made, while 11% settled for blue. The situation changes dramatically in Alberta, where only 5% opted for the rarest steak, and 18% chose the cut that clearly spent the most time in the heat. Still, Alberta is not the leader in favoring shade #5. This distinction is shared by Quebec (21%) and Atlantic Canada (24%).
The question of coffee also held some surprises. We can inform readers that 15% of Canadians do not drink it. The incidence of people avoiding coffee is highest in Atlantic Canada (27%) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (25%), followed by Quebec (14%), Ontario (also 14%), British Columbia (10%) and Alberta. (six percent).
While 16% of Canadians of European origin say they do not drink coffee, the proportion is much lower among those of South Asian (9%), East Asian (7%) and Aboriginal (6%) origin.
When respondents were exposed to photography with nine shades of coffee, black was the preferred choice for 17% of Canadians, including 21% of men. Residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (22%) and British Columbia (21%) are most likely to enjoy their coffee without cream, followed by Albertans (17%), Ontarians (16%), Quebecers (15%). ) and Atlantic Canadians (13%).
Canadians aged 55 and older are more likely to refuse cream or milk on their coffee (20%) than their counterparts aged 35-54 and 18-34 (15% each).
Nationwide, 18% of Canadians add only what appears to be a splash of milk or cream to their coffee, expressing their preference for shades #2, #3 and #4.
The largest group of Canadians place their own cup of coffee in shades #5, #6, and #7, a color more reminiscent of beige and not passed off as whitish. Half of women (50%) and a third of men (34%) belong to this category. Canadians aged 18-34 are also more likely to find this middle ground (47%) than their counterparts aged 35-54 and 55+ (40% each).
That leaves us with shades #8 and #9, where apparently only drops of coffee were poured into a container filled with milk or cream. While 8% of Canadians choose this seemingly tame mix, the proportion jumps to 13% in Alberta, 12% among Conservative Party of Canada voters in the 2021 federal election, and 12% among those of Indigenous or First Nations descent.
As you might expect, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to enjoy a steak or a cup of coffee in Canada. If we were to put these results in electoral terms, a first-past-the-post system would produce a land of middling steaks and beige coffee — much to the dismay of those who express a penchant for more radical options.
Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.
The findings are based on an online survey conducted May 22-24, 2022 of 1,000 adults in Canada. The data was statistically weighted according to Canadian census counts for age, sex and region. The margin of error, which measures sample variability, is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.