Brown Bear Coffee

Read our reviews of all the Brown Bear coffees and see how they rank in the Coffee Drinker's league table. Come and vote yourself.

Brown Bear have not been around long - since early 2013 - and we like their ethos. "We like coffee and we want you to like it". Basically. They're a mail order bunch - paying about four quid a pop which is not super cheap  - but then they do have killer bags that actually bloody work as re-sealable bags. Honestly. They say all the right things... quality beans... fair trade... good roasting. But then so does everyone. And frankly, who cares? All we want to know is are they any bloody good? Well, read our reviews - and give 'em a go and decide for yourself. Then when you get home you can tell the wife you did a bear at lunchtime. 

Brown Bear La Vida Coffee Beans

Brown Bear La Vida Coffee BeansThis claims to be a complex blend of Latin beans – but what does that mean? Is that just sales talk for “a mish mash of all the beans we had left over in one big bucket”?  Who knows – but whatever it is, it does us alright. It’s strong without being over-strong, which matches its strength 4 rating and every cup we made came out a good, solid brew. There’s certainly nothing fancy about this one – no quirky little tastes – like the multiple types of nuts they claim on the packet - and no head on it when it came out of our caffetiere – the words “flat white” must have been invented for this one. But all these quibbles are only because we are such a bunch of snobs we expect something a little but fancy these days – and this one is just a plain and simple good strong coffee. Buy it and you can’t go wrong. 7/10

11 votes
Your rating: None

Brown Bear New Latin Coffee Beans

Brown Bear New Latin Coffee BeansThis is a new one from the guys at Brown Bear - it's a super strength 5 roast and so should be right up our street, as regular readers of the Judge's musings will know we like 'em with a bit of grunt. Following in the Brown Bear tradition of marketing nonsense, the side of the packet claims that this one tastes of almost every berry/fruit/biscuit the world has every known - we'd love to go to one of their branding meetings and see how they come up with all this as clearly they are under the influence of something when they take pen to paper and even Oscar Wilde couldn't compete with these nutters. Despite the verbiage, this has been a breath of fresh air to us - the first really decent coffee we've had in a while. We've had too many so-so brews lately where we're struggling to enthuse. But this is right up there - smooth, strong and so easy to grind and make - a child could do it. And although it is strong, it's not in a face smashing kind of way - you could feed this to an legion of primadonna's and we guarantee they'll neck it straight down without a wimper. The only thing we can dock it for is the blurb - it's a resounding 9/10

14 votes
Your rating: None

Brown Bear Christmas Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Christmas Coffee BeansWhenever we see the word "Christmas" on a coffee it normally means steer well clear. The word normally implies the most horrible concoction of herbs and spices has been cut into the coffee in the name of Christmas cheer.

Cloves, nutmeg, chicory... we've had - and been repulsed - by it all. Thank God the folks at Brown Bear have decided to steer clear of all this Yuletide Mumbo Jumbo - and instead concentrate on the packaging. This comes in a lovely "Illy" style tin - pressure sealed so that when we opened it the smell of those dark beans just exploded in our faces. And dark they are! As the blurb on the tin says, this is not a coffee for the boring. The beans genuinely do glisten and look good enough to eat. And yes, they are smokey - this one has been well and truly roasted on an open fire. It's strong and punchy, and a doddle to make. We never over or under did it - it always seemed to come out right. This really would go down well with a rich slice of fruit cake. Hang on - is this cynical Judge coming over all festive?! Not quite - but good try Brown Bear. This would make a good present for a coffee drinker - but be warned. They will grimace when they see it - you will just have to explain to them quickly - there's no cloves or nutmeg - it's fine! Its a 9/10.

34 votes
Your rating: None

Brown Bear Sweet Brazil Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Sweet Brazil Coffee BeansThese Brazil beans are big and dusty - they look like they've been bleached out in the sun. Once ground they are very light in colour and that made us nervous. This one looked weak.

And so it proved - no matter how much we spooned this one up we couldn't get the kick we needed from it. What this coffee is, is light and refreshing. Now, that's not something we Judges crave in a coffee - if we want light and refreshing we'll knock up a big jug of Pimms. The flavour is definitely a bit nutty though - which is what they say on the packet too. So - most normal coffee drinkers I expect would love this one - it does exactly what it says on the tin, so we can't really fault the Brown Bear boys on it. But for us it's just too wimpy. 6/10

34 votes
Your rating: None

Brown Bear Real Colombia Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Real Colombia Coffee BeansWe've never found Colombian coffees to be that sophisticated - you always hope they're going to be amazing and give you a super buzz - but somehow they never do.

Especially when the Brown Bear marketing department were obviously so wired they forgot how to spell Colombia and also thought they were knocking back liquid toffee apples. So  we thought we were in for a Class A treat here. But, as always seems to be the case with Colombians - it's pretty mild - there's no danger of it keeping you awake at night. But it does have a subtle fruity taste that makes it slightly unusual and will send you back for more. Due to its light roast we tried to beef it up a bit - normally with a light roast you can spoon it up to your heart's content and it still won't go wrong. Not with this one though - the effect of loading up our plunger ended up with a much more bitter brew - with a metallic aftertaste we've not sampled since someone swapped the contents of our packet of Werthers for a load of copper washers. The conclusion then - accept this one for what it is - a slightly fruity and refreshing cup, and nothing more. So, one point off for our strength disappointment - it's a 6/10

35 votes
Your rating: None

Brown Bear Cub Espresso Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Cub Espresso Coffee BeansWe would always imagine an espresso blend to be strength 5 - yet this Brown Bear coffee is only a strength 3 - and it shows. Making it in the plunger resulted in no creamy head, that's for sure. Every cup came out the same - it's impossible to over do it. For us judges though it was lacking any novelty twists to the flavour - it's just plain straight coffee. In fact - it's pretty difficult to review - it's hard to think of a metaphor. You need something to hang your criticism or praise on - and this one just hasn't got any hooks. But it tastes fine enough and maybe deserves to be run through a high pressure Gaggia to get the most out of it. In the mean time its a 7/10

39 votes
Your rating: None

Brown Bear Breakfast Blend Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Breakfast Blend Coffee BeansThis is a strength one. Strength one! I really had no idea that these really existed - only in fairy tales. After 150 coffees reviewed, this is our first ever one-er. The Judges are renowned for liking their ball crushing coffee - so we approached this one somewhat nervously. Would we even be able to taste it? Would it just taste like a cup of tea? Well, first off, the folks at Brown Bear have under scored this - this is easily a mid ranger - we've had strength 4's that are weedier than this. In fact, this one is packed with flavour - to the point where we had to re-read the side of the packet just to be sure we were drinking the right thing. Maybe the clue is in the line that says this coffee contains Robusta beans - which are normally known for the higher caffeine content but harsher and generally nastier flavour. So if those beans are in there, then this coffee really is a paradox. We spooned it up the wring the maximum strength out of it - for two cups we used 5 spoons - which would normally be over the top, but it just made this coffee taste better. But it does have a peak - at 6 spoons it was overcome by a metallic aftertaste. Still - this is actually a great coffee and ideal for those that don't drink too often or those obsessed with strength, as it has a good interesting flavour, is easy to make and will do you proud. Unfortunately it can't score higher than an 8 - as it still is only a strength 1, and we'd never live it down. 8/10

28 votes
Your rating: None

Brown Bear Blue Mountain Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Blue Mountain Coffee BeansThese beans are pale, large and dusty. Not that unlike the contents of the Judge's underpants. Visually though, if you ever had a pet guinea pig and looked in its hutch a week later, you'd be forgiven for thinking you had a Golden Goose that had been busy laying Blue Mountain coffee. We've had this stuff before - of the Jamaican variety - which is one of the ponciest coffees known to man and generally only bought by toffs in Nottinghill. We're presuming this is the same variety but grown somewhere less salubrious. It's a mild roast - we couldn't over cook this no matter how hard we tried. If there was a taste to label this with it would be nutty, and the harder you brew it, the nuttier it gets. The packet mentions "maltyness" which is a fair comment (for once). It's like it's been cut with a spoon of Milo. It does tend to get a little dry on the tongue if you get a bit heavy handed with this one. We slurped the whole pack down in a few days though -so it's an 8/10

31 votes
Your rating: None

Brown Bear Original Blend Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Original Blend Coffee BeansAnother blend from the guys at Brown Bear - this time a strength four. Everything looks "normal" about this one - the raw beans, the ground beans, the brewed beans.... nothing to write home about so far. But, while it's brewing we read the packet - "rose water finish". What the f*#k is that? Firstly - who on earth has been drinking rose water to know what it tastes like? If that's the kind of thing these Brown Bear boys get up to in their lunch break, then we've got to ask are they even from this Earth? And not only that - they don't claim it fully tastes of rose water - only the finish! What the?! There must be something wrong with our taste buds then, as we're getting no roses here at Judge Towers. If anything, it's a bit ashy this one. But not in a horrible way - just in a good first-thing-in-the-morning kind of way. Hmm... on re-reading they claim the finish is also liquorice. I think their marketing boys must have been on some heavy hallucinates when they knocked this one out. Still, piss-taking aside, the coffee's good - works well as a wake me up - nothing fancy and easy as hell to make. Just grind-brew-glug. That's it. So, one point off for the marketing bullshit, gives it a 7/10

41 votes
Your rating: None

Brown Bear Mambo Italiano Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Mambo Italiano Coffee BeansThese Brown Bear packs are heavy as hell - it says 225g or whatever on the side but it feels like they've chucked just that bit more in there. There's nothing worse than a bag of coffee that rattles around making you feel like you've been stitched up. This is their Italian which, for those who think that the coffee must have been grown in Italy, actually just means burnt. Ok... that's a bit harsh, but for the un initiated out there, to make an Italian coffee you just shake out the dust from your Vespa tail pipe before sleeping with the next woman you meet - available or not - and then going home and having your mother cook your tea. So it's not for the faint hearted. Luckily, here at Judge Towers we like giving a Vespa tail pipe a good rimming, and that's just what this is. The beans are clearly two types - there's a lighter and darker one in there - and they're pretty greasy - a sure sign of having been given a damn good roasting as it's this that drives the oil out of the poor little mites. You need to be careful with this one though - like all dark and powerful coffees - just one grain too many in that plunger and you'll be jittering all the way to A&E to get some sedatives. It takes some care with the grinding too - we've been chipping the sludge off the bottom of the mugs all week. Anyway - we love it. It's not sophisticated (like the Italians might have you believe) but it's a good 'un. An extra point for the very useful packet too - it re-seals. YES - it actually does! 9/10

89 votes
Your rating: None

Sign up to leave comments

Sign up and you can leave your own comments on this review. We can't allow comments without joining as all we get is bull-shit spam comments.

Click here to join in...

Subscribe to RSS - Brown Bear