Wandering Bear is a coffee company based in New York, New York. They sell Fair Trade organic cold brew coffee in three flavors: Straight Black, Vanilla Coconut and Mocha Coconut.
Each of the flavors come in 11 fluid ounce cartons. The Straight Black is also offered as a 96 fluid ounce box or a 36 fluid ounce box (8-pack), each that come with a tap (like boxed wine only better!). The cartons are perfect for individual servings or on the go, while the box is perfect for a party, brunch or other larger get together (or if you’re really thirsty).
The coffee had great flavor and was one of the best pre-packaged coffees I’ve had recently. It has a bold taste—which stands up even when diluted as the ice melts—and is really smooth. The coffee does a nice job of balancing the boldness and flavor notes to make it really easy to drink.
My favorite of the three was definitely Straight Black. Given the very limited additions to the flavored versions, I was impressed with their quality, but felt they each tasted a bit artificial.
There seem to be more and more cold brew coffees pushing the higher threshold for price. I currently consider $3-4/serving the average for quality ready-to-drink cold brew. Wandering Bear comes in at $4/carton for the individual servings, so on the higher end of the average. At that price point, I don’t think I’d drink this every day, but it is good enough I’d purchase a 12-pack and drink them occasionally throughout the summer. If you are an every-day afternoon cold brew drinker, the Straight Black boxes are great options. They come in a 96 fluid ounce box for $30 or an 8-pack of 36 fluid ounce boxes, which come to $2.50 or $2.00 per 8oz serving, respectively—both of which are much more reasonable.
I was most impressed with the quality of ingredients in Wandering Bear’s coffee. Many cold brew coffees are either loaded with sugar or other flavoring or just don’t taste great without adding some cream. With Wandering Bear Straight Black cold brew, that isn’t the case. It tastes great black and contains nothing but organic coffee (currently from Peru) and water—no sugar or other ingredients. The Mocha and Vanilla flavors also contain 0 grams of sugar and are flavored with organic coconut cream and either organic cocoa extract or organic natural flavors, respectively. Their coffee is also Fair Trade certified and organic certified (though while the Mocha and Vanilla options contain all organic ingredients, they do not carry the organic seal).
Many times the pre-packaged cold brews can be a bit flat without the definition and complexity you get in a fresh-brewed pour over. I didn’t find that to be the case with Wandering Bear. The Straight Black option was a balanced cup, but had some nice brightness at the beginning and a smooth, chocolatey finish.
While the flavorings overshadowed the complexity a bit in the Mocha and Vanilla options, you get the added complexity of either of their respective flavors layered on top of the coffee.
The Bottom Line
Wandering Bear is a bit more expensive than some other cold brew options, but it has some of the highest quality ingredients around and the Straight Black is one of the best tasting pre-packaged cold brews I’ve had to date. If organic, natural ingredients are important to you, I don’t think you’ll find a much better option than Wandering Bear and if you like your cold brew black without added sugar or cream, Wandering Bear Straight Black is one of the best I’ve had.
Wandering Bear is available in Whole Foods, Target, Amazon Fresh, Thrive Market and other local retailers.