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Frequently Asked Questions

Placing an Order

Fair Trade

Equal Exchange

Coffee

Tea

Chocolate & Cocoa

Other Product Information

Getting Involved

Interfaith Partnerships



Answers

How do I place an order?

View instructions and videos about placing an order here.

How can I contact you?

Fill out the "Contact US" form, or reach us by phone, email, fax or mail. We are in the office Monday - Friday from 9am to 5pm EST.

Phone: 774-776-7366
Fax: 508-587-5955
communityorders@equalexchange.coop

50 United Drive
West Bridgewater, MA 02379

How can I order through the Interfaith Program?

You can order on this store, just like anybody else! To make sure you are viewing the correct prices for products, please log in to the store before you shop. You can learn more here.

Can I order offline?

Sure! You can always call in your order, or fill out one of our downloadable order forms and email, mail or fax it to us.

I have ordered from Equal Exchange offline - do I need to create a new account?

Our web store only contains records of accounts that have ordered online before, so if you have never placed an order via the store you will need to sign in as a new customer. When we process your order we will link your web account with your existing one in our system so that we know you are not a new customer. While only your web history will show up on the web store itself, we will see all of your history in our systems under a single account.

Why do these prices look wrong?

Have you logged into the store? Because we have both retail and wholesale customers, we suggest logging in to the store before you shop to make sure you're seeing the correct prices on all items.

Can I set up a recurring order?

Unfortunately, we do not currently have the ability to send recurring orders.

Can you bill me for my order?

If you are ordering for an organization, we may be able to bill you for your order. To set up a billing agreement with us, or if you already have one offline and would like to activate it on the web store, please contact customer service at 774-776-7366 or communityorders@equalexchange.coop.

Do you allow returns or exchanges of product?

Because we are shipping consumable goods, we typically do not allow returns or exchanges of product. If you are selling or fundraising with Equal Exchange products, please note that our products are not sold on consignment; please purchase only the quantities that you feel confident you can sell before their best by date.

If you accidentally ordered the wrong product, call us within 10 business days and we will accept a return of the item. We will issue you a refund or a credit to your account, not including any shipping costs.

If you have a specific issue regarding a return or exchange of product for quality control purposes please contact customer service directly at 774-776-7366.

What do I do if there is an error with my order?

In the unfortunate event that there is an error with your order, please contact us within 10 business days of receipt of the order so we can swiftly correct this for you. Contact customer service at 774-776-7340 to report any errors and please have your order number handy if possible.

What is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is a way of doing business that ultimately aims to keep small farmers an active part of the world marketplace, and aims to empower consumers to make purchases that support their values. Fair Trade is a set of business practices voluntarily adopted by the producers and buyers of agricultural commodities and hand-made crafts that are designed to advance many economic, social and environmental goals, including raising and stabilizing the incomes of small-scale farmers, farm workers, and artisans, connecting consumers and producers, and increasing the organizational and commercial capacities of producer groups. Read more here.

Is there a difference between your Fair Trade program, and that of other coffee companies?

At Equal Exchange 100% of our coffee is fairly traded. For other companies‚ Fair Trade coffee usually constitutes only a small percentage of their total sales. In such cases Fair Trade coffee products are something added on to, and possibly subsidized by, a much larger conventional coffee operation.

We were the first company to bring fairly traded coffee to the United States back in 1991, and remained the only organization using the Fair Trade model until 1998.

As a worker co-operative Equal Exchange operates in the same democratic, equitable, and transparent manner that the fair trade certification system requires of participating farmer co-operatives. Conventional companies are neither obliged to, nor do, operate in accordance with these Fair Trade principles.

What is unique about Equal Exchange?

Equal Exchange is best known as the unorthodox, employee-owned company that pioneered the practice of Fair Trade with small coffee farmers in the U.S. The company is unique for having voluntarily adopted, and for aggressively promoting, these Fair Trade standards for years when our peers insisted that it was impossible. But Equal Exchange has persevered with this unusual course because it was founded with an unusual mission — to create a new model of bringing the best from farms to the consumers in a manner that was direct, fair and sustainable to all involved: the environment, the farmers, our employees, our wholesale customers, and the public.

And though hundreds of companies, some 200 times our size, have now joined us in the Fair Trade sector, Equal Exchange remains the market leader, even as we continue to improve the benefits we offer to our co-op partners. By our consistent growth and profitability we have demonstrated Fair Trade's viability, expanded the definition of "great coffee", and have raised the bar for ethical business practices.

Is Equal Exchange a non-profit organization?

No. Equal Exchange is a tax-paying, for-profit worker cooperative (one of the largest in the U.S.), with both inside and outside shareholders, and is controlled by its employees.

By generating a profit in 17 of the last 18 years Equal Exchange has demonstrated that Fair Trade, and worker cooperatives, are viable, self-sustaining business models. Our financial structure, and the way we allocate revenue and income, may be the only one of its kind in the United States.

What is a worker-owned cooperative?

A worker cooperative is an alternative for-profit structure based upon standard democratic principles such as one person one vote and open access to information (i.e. open-book management, etc.) Instead of being owned by outside investors or founders, a worker co-op is owned, equally, by its employees.

Directors, managers, and entry-level employees all own one, identical share, and receive an equal share of any profits. These worker-owners‚ both elect the Board of Directors and fill six of the nine Board seats. The Board in turn is responsible for hiring and supervising management. Consequently a circle is formed, as in American civic democracy, where everyone is accountable to someone else.

The delegation of responsibilities is very much like that of conventional company - which allows for efficiency - except that at Equal Exchange those at the "bottom" of the organizational chart are, as owners, also at the "top" of the same chart.

Learn more here.

Is your coffee certified organic?

The majority of our coffee is organic. All of Equal Exchange's organic coffee is certified by Oregon Tilth. Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OTCO) is an internationally recognized symbol of organic integrity. The purpose of organic certification is to ensure that the agreed upon conventions of organic agricultural systems are being practiced not only by growers, but also by all the people who handle and process organic food on its journey to the final consumer. To accomplish this, OTCO provides a system which combines strict production standards, verifiable third party inspections, and legally binding affidavits to protect the producers and buyers of organic products. For more information, visit the Oregon Tilth website.

Is your coffee certified kosher?

The majority of our coffee is certified "OU" kosher. The "OU", Orthodox Union, is the largest and oldest Kosher supervising agency in the world. The OU has supervised Kosher products for seventy five years. The OU certifies over 2,300 companies with 4,500 plants in 70 countries around the globe with a total of over 300,000 labels.

Kosher supervision means that a qualified Rabbi or Rabbinic organization supervises the production of a food item to insure that the product is Kosher (prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary law). For more information, visit www.ou.org.

Due to a production change, some of our 12oz packaged coffees will not be Kosher certified for a few months while we get the correct certification in place. You can see whether a particular coffee currently has certification on its product page.

How many cups of coffee can be brewed from your packaged coffee?

A 12oz bag will make between 40-50 cups in a drip brewer. Our 1lb bags will make between 80-90 cups in a percolator. Please keep in mind that this is not an exact measurement, as different people brew coffee at different strengths. Learn more about preparing and storing coffee here.

What coffee roasts do you offer?

Here at Equal Exchange, our coffee is roasted to bring out the finest characteristics in each bean. Using a series of strict quality controls, we evaluate the characteristics of each bean to determine the proper roast and blend combinations. We offer four different coffee roasts, as well as a number of post-roast blends where two roast levels are paired to create new and exciting flavor profiles. Read more about roast levels here.

Is Equal Exchange's coffee shade grown?

While Equal Exchange is not Shade Grown certified, the majority of our coffee is shade grown. Learn more here.

What decaffeination process does Equal Exchange use?

Equal Exchange coffee is primarily decaffeinated using two processes: CR3 Natural Liquid Carbon Dioxide Decaffeination and Mountain Water Process. Both are natural forms of decaffeination that preserve the quality of the coffee beans, which is why the flavors aren't affected. Read more about the decaffeination process here.

More about Coffee

What steps does Equal Exchange take to insure top quality? How is coffee grown and produced? What is coffee "cupping"? Read more about Equal Exchange and coffee here.

What makes Equal Exchange tea unique?

This tea is special, from the people who grow it and the stories and communities behind it to its unique flavor. Most teas, even Fair Trade certified teas, come from large plantations where workers have little say. We are helping to build a different system that values the voice of small farmers, their products, and democracy in trade. Learn more here.

Are Equal Exchange teas certified organic?

Yes. All current Equal Exchange tea products are certified organic by Oregon Tilth. For more information, visit the Oregon Tilth website.

Does Equal Exchange have any decaffeinated teas?

We do not currently offer any decaf black teas but we do have four naturally caffeine-free herbal tisanes. These are Chamomile, Peppermint, Rooibos, and Vanilla Rooibos. We hope to have a decaf black tea coming later this year!

More about Tea

Who are our producer partners for tea? What's the best way to brew a good cup of tea? What is the difference between green, black and herbal teas? Read more about Equal Exchange and tea here.

Are your cocoa and chocolate products certified Kosher?

They sure are. Our Organic Hot Cocoa mix, Organic Baking Cocoa, Organic Spicy Hot Cocoa are certified by the Orthodox Union.

Our chocolate bars and minis are certified by Rabbi Abraham Hochwald, Chief Rabbi of the Northern Rhine-Germany.

Our candy bars are certified by Union Israelita del Peru.

To request a copy of the Kosher certificates, please e-mail customer service at communityorders@equalexchange.coop.

What is meant by "cacao content" or "percentage cacao"?

Many of the chocolate bars found in stores today have a cacao percentage on the label. This refers to the percentage of the bar (by weight) that is derived from the cacao bean.

The two main ingredients in a chocolate bar derived from the cacao bean are "chocolate liquor" (a.k.a. cocoa mass) and "cocoa butter". For example, Equal Exchange's Organic Very Dark Chocolate bar has a 71% cacao content. This means that 71% of the bar is chocolate liquor plus cocoa butter and 29% is other ingredients (e.g. sugar and vanilla).

Equal Exchange bars range from 38% cacao content (Organic Milk Chocolate with a Hint of Hazelnut) to 80% cacao content (Organic Panama Extra Dark Chocolate).

The chocolate and cocoas are organic. What does that mean?

The ingredients that go into our chocolate bars and cocoas are farmed sustainably, without harmful pesticides or fertilizers. This is better for farmers, the planet, and for your body.

Our farmer partners do not use synthetic chemicals for pest and weed control. This prevents harmful chemicals from entering the local ecosystem and water supply, which is also healthier for farmers and their families.

As an alternative, many farmers use organic material for making compost, use fertilizers and pesticides made of local and natural inputs, and use natural barriers, such as plants, to control water flow and prevent against erosion.

Many organic farmers also have diverse farms, meaning they plant a variety of cacao trees (which lowers the risk of disease), tall shade trees, and fruit and vegetable plants. This diversity allows for more diversity of wildlife as well as stronger protection against extreme weather, such as flooding and erosion.

More about Chocolate & Cocoa

What makes our chocolate special? Who are our producer partners for chocolate? Where can you learn more about the cocoa industry's child labor issue? Read more about Equal Exchange and chocolate here.

What's the difference between organic and conventional?

Organic means that the product was grown without harmful chemical pesticides, as per standards set by the USDA. Most of our products are certified organic. A large number of products that are not organic come from farmers currently working towards organic certification.

Where can I find nutritional information for Equal Exchange products?

Nutritional info can be found in the product descriptions on our webstore on the "Nutrition" and "Ingredients" tabs.

Where can I find recipes using my Equal Exchange products?

You can view our collection of recipes, ranging from chocolate cake to rooibos popsicles, here. If you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share, please email it to us at communityorders@equalexchange.coop.

Can you tell me more about Equal Exchange's fairly traded bananas?

Equal Exchange has been working for over two decades to transform the coffee, tea and chocolate industries. Now we're setting our eye on the world of Bananas as well! Learn more about the banana revolution Beyond the Peel.

I have a store or cafe - can I purchase wholesale?

You may purchase Equal Exchange products for your store or cafe by calling our sales customer service team at 774-776-7333. You can also request more information and learn more here. We ask that you go through these channels rather than simply shopping online - our sales reps can provide you with resources that the online store cannot!

How can I fundraise with Equal Exchange products?

From holding a catalog fundraiser with your school, youth group, or organization to buying our products and reselling them at a table at your congregation, you can learn more about our fundraising program here.

How do I invest in Equal Exchange?

Learn more about Equal Exchange's unique capital structure and investment opportunities, including our unique CD (Certificate of Deposit) here.

How can I encourage people to buy Fair Trade?

  • Coffee Hour: Serve fairly traded coffee, tea and cocoa after services at your church of congregation.
  • Buying Club: Form a Buying Club for fairly traded products at your home and office.
  • Alternative Gift Market: Host or visit an Alternative Gift Market for the holidays.
  • Fundraising: Use products as a fundraiser for your youth group, school, or other organization.
  • Farmers Market: Buy from your local farmers market and also set up a booth to sell there.
  • Stores: Look for a Ten Thousand Villages or other Fair Trade store in your area.
  • Co-operatives: Look up your local co-operatives and support them.
  • Cafes: Look for a local independant cafe that serves Fair Trade coffee, tea and cocoa.
  • Online: Go online to find fairly traded, sweat-free, and co-operative-made items. Ten Thousand Villages, SERVV, and Global Exchange are good places to start.
  • One Step at a Time: If Fair Trade is expensive, then decide to buy one item of Fair Trade per set period (like a month or week), or for just one or a few of your gifts.
  • Expand your Fair Trade Realm: Before you buy anything, even something you think might not be available in Fair Trade-form, double check first. There are many new small farmer and fairly traded items out there.

How do I receive notices about promotions and special offers?
If you are interested in receiving email notifications regarding special offers, promotions and new products, sign up here or in the footer. You can unsubscribe from this email list at any time, and will never share your contact information. We invite you to stay in touch with Equal Exchange on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram too!

Where can I find educational resources about coffee, Fair Trade or Equal Exchange's farmer partners?
Discover a wealth of information about our products, partner co-ops and ethos on our main site, and our blog. You'll find brewing tips, farmer stories, recipes, news and more! We also have display and educational materials to download or to add to your order/

Does my denomination have a Coffee Project?

Equal Exchange currently has partnerships with twelve different faith groups. They include: American Friends Service Committee, American Jewish World Service, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, Catholic Relief Services, Church of the Brethren, Disciples of Christ, Lutheran World Relief, Mennonite Central Committee U.S., Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Committee on Relief, and Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. If you don't see your denomination represented, you are still welcome to order from us and support small farmers.

What is a Small Farmer Fund?

Each faith group we partner with has its own Small Farmer Fund – a resource that allows you to give even more back to farmers when you use Equal Exchange products. For every pound of coffee, tea, chocolate, and snacks you purchase, Equal Exchange donates a set amount to your denomination's fund; annually, this can add up to thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars. Our partner organizations then donate those funds to development projects worldwide. Through the Small Farmer Funds, farmers and others in struggling communities have planted trees, improved their access to water, and expanded educational opportunities for their children. This added benefit to farmers, which goes beyond the traditional benefits of fair trade, is unique to Equal Exchange's Interfaith program.

How do I know that credit is going to my coffee project?

When you select a denomination on your account (or inform us of your denomination by phone, mail, fax or email), we automatically donate a portion back to your partnership for every package/pound of partnership approved products. This fund is done in partnership with our Interfaith Partners (see above). For more specific information regarding the Small Farmer Fund, please feel free to contact us at 774-776-7366 or your denomination's partner organization.

How do congregations use Equal Exchange products?

Congregations that buy products from Equal Exchange use them in a variety of ways. The most wide-spread use is for a "coffee hour" or "fellowship hour" after worship.

Congregations also resell our products one or more pre-advertised days in a month to provide a source for fairly traded, organic products to their members. This can be used for fundraising by marking up the goods by an amount they deem appropriate. Equal Exchange can provide you with fundraising materials.

Other congregations sell our products to raise money at certain designated times of the year during rummage sales, craft fairs, holiday festivals, or town celebrations. We even have a small but growing group of customers who serve our products at "Coffee Houses" that are open to the community, raising money and increasing local awareness of fair trade.

Finally, our congregations sometimes join together with their local council of churches or other organizations interested in social justice to hold a "Fair Trade Fair" to increase awareness in their communities.