In the lead-up to our chocolate party, we had a lovely sit-down meeting at the Chocolate Room with a representative from Equal Exchange. We learned all sorts of things -- apparently they are completely worker-owned, so every employee is a part owner (a true co-op), and they were among the Fair Trade Chocolate pioneers in the US! But let's be real here: the important questions is whether it is delicious.
And the important answer is yes.
Here is what David sampled:
There was an 80% (Panama-origin), a 71% blend, a 65% (Ecuador-origin), and a 55% with almonds. They were all really good, honestly.
The 55% with almonds compared nicely with the Chocolove. It did not have sea salt, which made it taste a little more mature and a little less addictive. For better or worse.
David's favorite -- perhaps unsurprisingly -- was the 80% Panama, and we were very glad to have that at our Party. We compared it with the Chocolate Room's new, proprietary 80% bar (Ecuador-origin), and the Equal Exchange bar was far better. It was chocolatier, less fruity, and didn't have some of the weird flavor notes. The Chocolate Room bar also had a somewhat unsatisfying finish, whereas the Equal Exchange kept its rich flavor throughout.
Interestingly, several weeks earlier, I (David) had returned home from a long day (or two) of work, and a friend had left a series of coded notes, leading me on a scavenger hunt around my (one bedroom) apartment. The reward? Mini-tablets of 55% Equal Exchange!
We lead charmed lives, you guys.
Bottom Line: Equal Exchange is a great company, with great people and great chocolate. They're gonna do great.