“When it comes to premium coffee, for us, it has always been about taking a very consumer-first approach to the usage occasions and trying to craft products that don’t just deliver on amazing quality coffee and phenomenal taste, but also deliver a utility in terms of how they’re packaged,” company co-founder Matt Bachmann told FoodNavigator-USA.
With this in mind, he explained, Wandering Bear Coffee was one of the first companies to sell cold brew “on tap,” from a bag inside of a box with a spout that keeps the beverage fresh by protecting it from air and light.
Being able to have “coffee on tap in the fridge at the push of a button without having to set up a kegerator or more sophisticated system,” makes drinking cold brew significantly easier for consumers who might love the smoother flavor profile and higher caffeine content of cold brew but not the mess that can come with making it, he added.
The company also launched this summer an 11-ounce reclosable carton that consumers could sip on-the-go – adding another layer of convenience and utility to the brand’s portfolio.
With practicality as a cornerstone, Wandering Bear also offers the ultimate convenience: regularly scheduled delivery.
“Since our inception, we have offered B2B subscriptions for offices all over the Northeast and now we have expanded that to the West Coast, Southeast and some of the Midwest, with plans to be fully national soon,” Bachmann said.
He added that the company launched a consumer subscription service as a test and was pleasantly surprised when it became Wandering Bear’s most popular product.
This focus on utility as well as high-quality organic, Fair Trade coffee from Peru, helped the company quickly grow year after year with triple-digit growth in the New York metro area, where the brand is based.
Funds will support key hires
All of this was achieved with a “lean team and an approach in general that was very lean,” but as the company scales up with expanded regional distribution in prominent retailers including Whole Foods, Target, Costco and Kings, Bachmann said the company needed to also expand its senior leadership team – which is where part of the $8 million comes into play.
“We credit a lot of our success to date to the fact that we surrounded ourselves with great people in the form of advisors and board members,” but now the company also needs a team of “incredibly passionate individuals” who can continue to build the national distribution channel, Bachmann said.
In particular, the company is looking for people to help with sales and marketing who are passionate and up to the challenge of building a brand in a fast-growing and highly competitive category, he added.
Innovation on the horizon
The $8 million financing also will go towards innovation that will help Wandering Bear “take our share of ritual daily coffee consumption,” Bachmann said.
While he would not divulge details about the company’s new product pipeline, Bachmann said he sees room for growth in the cold brew category with healthy alternatives to some of the calorie-heavy ready-to-drink coffees on the market today.
“There are plenty of indulgent options out there. I think for us, getting into that daily space where it is something you can drink every day, and would want to drink every day, and wouldn’t feel bad about drinking every day,” is where there is potential, he said.
As the category continues to grow and mature, Bachmann added that Wandering Bear wants to “push the category in a positive direction by adding something that is truly valuable,” which the brand has done so far with its innovative routes to market, strength and flavor profile.