HOW THE BEAR STARTED WANDERING

by | Feb 14, 2024 | Blogs, Coffee

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We initially brewed Wandering Bear specifically for offices across New York City. Co-founders, Matt Bachmann and Ben Gordon, perfected our recipe to caffeinate office workers, cold calling office managers themselves to offer up samples of what was — at the time — a completely new coffee option. 

Back in 2014, explaining what cold brew was, and why it is “the best iced coffee” was a big part of every sales conversation. This was more than two years before Starbucks and Dunkin’ added it to their menus. We’ve always enjoyed “sharing the bear” and sampling has always been our most effective way of capturing demand. This untraditional path for a beverage business came with a lot of upside. For one, there are so many offices in New York City. The number of leads (and wins) ticking up each day helped the team get more strategic about growing the business as the cold brew category started becoming more well known. Our original 96oz on tap box was an excellent product market fit for office fridges. Employees were raving about the liquid inside the box. This helped us enter into new channels with a proven product, as the office business continued to grow. 

And then came March of 2020. With offices shut down, we had to find a new direction. While our office coffee business plummeted, our Amazon business, launched just one year earlier, boomed as people started working from home. The team rallied to relaunch our brand as a direct-to-consumer business. Since the “re-launch,” we’ve been able to grow our customer base four fold and nationwide. This awareness opened the door into new retail outlets, such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Erewhon, to name a few. Our heightened brand awareness is now driving our food service and office coffee business. It’s great when you walk into a sales meeting and the people around the table say, “I keep seeing Wandering Bear on my Tiktok.” 

As our office business gains momentum again, we are seeing a trend in the multi-serve segment and getting a lot of interest in our flavor portfolio. Since the category continues to grow, businesses are looking for more efficient (not to mention more sustainable) ways to caffeinate their employees. Wandering Bear has kept pace and focused on equipment innovation in the category. Not only can we offer our original on tap box, we have seasonal varieties, as well as concentrate and BIB kegs options. Cold brew is no longer an afterthought — it’s a focal point of every coffee program. We’re seeing a focus on new formats that reduce waste, reduce cost, and deliver a better tasting product. 

Almost 10 years in (our birthday is coming up!) and we are still growing and learning and caffeinating humans around the country — at home and at their offices. When we started this business, we had no idea how adaptable bears can be. It’s been a pleasure to work alongside and help grow so many customer accounts and we are really enjoying partnering on sampling events and pop ups. Interested in bringing Wandering Bear into your office? Reach out to Tradecraft to learn more.

Guest author: Ana Madriz, Wandering Bear

Christa Thomas

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