• Rating: [rating:3.5/5]

Equal Exchange is an unusual company. It’s not simply an employee-owned business (a growing number of companies are, for a given value of employee owned) but is instead a worker-owned cooperative… which is a very interesting and balanced thing to be when one deals with a great many worker-owned coffee cooperatives. There’s kind of a Zen thing at play there.

So, you have a democratically run coop in the states that partners exclusively with Fair Trade coffee cooperatives around the globe. So… how’s the coffee? Hey, it could be a Trappist monastery, or a union of budgerigar-loving social radicals, and when all is said and done it’s what’s in the cup, right? Right… er, if you want to stay in business, anyway.

Equal Exchange’s Organic Mind, Body & Soul is a blend of medium and dark-roast beans, sourced from two regions in Mexico, Chiapas and Oaxaca (Chiapas is to the far south of Mexico, abutting the border with Guatemala, and Oaxaca its neighbor to the northwest.)

The coffee’s fragrance is mildly spiced, its aroma while brewing is mildly sour and woody, like the smell of tree-bark in the woods after a rain. At first taste the sourness resolves into a faintly earthy and distinctly rustic woody note, with a hint of molasses to round out the cup. But as the cup cools its flavors magically transform into a rich and pronounced semi-sweet chocolate… just like the morsels in a fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookie. Nice. Its finish is light, and subtly sweet.

All in all, a pretty nifty feat of roasting and blending pretty straightforward Mexican coffees into something that’s, well… more than the sum of its parts.

Recommended.

Notes: Wander the coffee aisle of your 21st century supermarket and just try to absorb the dizzying array of bags, bins and tins… it’s a no-holds-barred battle of the coffee titans — and a few companies of less than titanic proportions — all jockeying for your undivided attention.

Conventional wisdom says those bins are mighty questionable… what with no roast date, no use-by date and no idea to know when that bin was last filled, why take chances? Life’s too short for bad coffee!

Hmm.

Fact is, some coffee companies are making some unconventional plays these days… and that may include managing their own in-store grocery bins, thank-you-very-much.

So does conventional thinking still hold true? Hard to say. This coffee, from this particular store, fared very well indeed. Your mileage may vary…

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