Remember when Equal Exchange (EE) was kind enough to send me some tea and coffee to sample? Remember when they offered to send a gift basket to one of my lucky readers? Well, they also offered me to take a tour of their roaster in West Bridgewater, MA. How could I pass up a unique experience like that?
I drove up on a Friday to their roaster and met with LJ, the man behind the twitter handle @EqExintheCup. When I first arrived, he brewed me a cup of Organic Rooibos tea. As I sipped my cup of tea, we sat and talked about the history of EE. Founded in 1986, EE is a worker owned co-op meaning that employees have an equal share and vote in decision making. EE is best known for its fair trade with small farmer co-ops. By farmers being paid fair trade prices for their products, they are able to make investments in community and educational programs, keeping their communities and cultures strong. Although EE is well known for their fair trade practices, they also want to remind consumers that their products are high quality.
Did you know that EE sells more than just coffee?! They have a line of specialty teas, chocolate bars, cocoa, almonds, dried cranberries, bananas, and sugar. Oh, and I got a sneak peak and sample of their newest product…OLIVE OIL!
Lately I’ve been using this olive oil with some lemon over a bed of arugula for a light and refreshing summer salad.
As LJ and I chatted about the history of EE, we sat in their employee lounge where the mission of EE cannot go missed.
We spent quite some time hanging out in their quality control room where they inspect all the coffee beans that come in. They have a group of tasters that are involved in the cupping process where they sample each batch of coffee to assess the fragrance, aroma, acidity, body, and flavor.
From there, we took a walk to see the roaster and bags of coffee beans galore.
How cool do these bags look? I’m still thinking about what I could have done with these if I were able to snag a few. Any artists out there have some ideas?
Coffee beans before they are roasted look like this…
This big old roaster is where the magic happens.
Voila. Roasted coffee beans!
LJ saved the best for last. The chocolate room. He took a mint chocolate bar and broke up the bar into pieces while still wrapped and opened it up and had me take a sniff. Holy moly! It smelled amazing. Perfect example of how 70-75% of what we taste actually comes from our sense of smell! It reminded me of my chocolate tasting with Boston Chocolate Tours and School.
Before I left, LJ made sure I wasn’t going home empty handed. He snagged me boxes of tea, chocolate bars, olive oil, and some cool paraphernalia, including an EE tee!
Tea time, anyone?
Or, a chocolate treat?
I may have dabbled in both. It also may have been before noon. But, who says you can’t have dessert after breakfast?! It’s all about moderation. Although all the chocolate bars were delicious, I have to say the caramel sea salt chocolate bar is by far my favorite.
I am so grateful that Equal Exchange offered to give me a tour of their roaster. I learned a lot about roasting and cupping coffee. I also found out more about the history and mission of EE. I love supporting companies who are all about fair and sustainable practices. It helps when the companies also make great quality products like EE does.
I’m looking forward to trying some more tea and indulging in more chocolate. Oh wait, I think the caramel sea salt chocolate bar is calling me right now…
Peace, love, and food,
I was not paid by EE to promote their products but they did take me on a tour and give me free samples.