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Equal Exchange

By Holly Stephens & Mona Zecevic

Starting out in a fair trade coffee exchange with Nicaragua back in 1986, the Equal Exchange Café never imagined the impact it would have in the twenty-first century on over twenty countries. The founders of this earth-friendly exporter run a food system that works to benefit the earth, farmers, workers, and consumers. Based on the idea of trading food in an honest way in order to oust industrialized agribusiness relying on harmful chemicals, the Equal Exchange believes that by communicating with others, “Together we can create stronger local communities, a more just food system, and a healthier planet.”


Based in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, the Equal Exchange maintains the standard of a one-person, one-vote working environment in an effort to minimize faulty corporate practices and maximize its fresh, organic, and sustainable food service.

Equal Exchange offers a variety of organic and sustainably grown teas, coffees, chocolates, cocoas, sugars, bananas, nuts, and berries from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and local Northern American farms.

Equal Exchange works to build on its powerful system by establishing new partnerships and is currently reaching out across the globe to farming cooperatives growing high-quality organic coffees, teas, chocolate, bananas, and other deliciously sustainable food products.

Not only does Equal Exchange offer top-quality, organic-based ingredients, but it also works to establish a better future for small farmers. The Exchange has installed training programs for women in Guatemala, has hosted an ecotourism project in Nicaragua, and has even constructed new classrooms in El Salvador. Other sustainable community projects have been developed in Bolivia, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Sumatra, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Uganda.

“Equal Exchange is much more to us than just a buyer of our coffee. We see you as a partner who treats farmers as equals. You share our commitment to growers and to the land, and are helping us to create a better future.”- Pedro Haslam, General Manager CECOCAFEN Cooperative, Nicaragua.

When visiting the Equal Exchange Café, customers are able to enjoy treats that not only are delicious, fresh, and affordable but also give back to the community.

Looking for lunch? Try a fresh sandwich, supplied by Cambridge’s The Biscuit. Popular choices at Equal Exchange are the Veggie Goats’ Gruff (zucchini, roasted red peppers, caramelized red onion, herb goat cheese spread, and greens on whole wheat) and La Bella Mozzarella (fresh mozzarella, roasted tomato, pesto, and greens on rosemary focaccia). If your taste buds are craving something more outside of the box, sample a tofu spring roll. Packed with basil, these spring rolls are flavorful and fresh. Other vegetarian options include vegan chili and soup.

Got a sweet tooth? Petsi Pies supplies the Equal Exchange with delectable pastries to satisfy any craving. Oatmeal cookies, baked with real oats, maple syrup, and a smidgen of fruit, are a customers’ favorite. Chocolate lovers cannot go wrong with a bite, or two, or even three (we won’t tell) of Equal Exchange chocolates. And for those searching for gluten-free delights, Equal Exchange offers a variety of gluten-free options, including muffins, cookies, and brownies.

Don’t think we forgot about the thirst quenchers. As the weather warms up, coffee lovers everywhere are switching from hot to iced. Try an iced coffee (spice it up with a flavor shot if you’re feeling bold), add some skim milk and brown sugar, and you’ve got yourself a smooth yet powerful start to any day. Are you a Nutella fan? If so, Equal Exchange’s hazelnut mocha will be a treasure to your taste buds. If you’re not up for coffee and are just looking for a cold, crisp refreshment, try an organic ginger beer.

All of Equal Exchange’s containers are 100 percent compostable, and if you stop in after 5:00 PM, certain treats are half priced. It’s a perfect way to be green while saving yourself some of that other green.

Equal Exchange products are available in cafes, co-ops, supermarkets, and natural food stores throughout the United States. Products are also found online through the web café. Faith-based organizations have the option of purchasing products through Equal Exchange’s Interfaith Programs. Equal Exchange also offers wholesale opportunities to retailers worldwide.

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