Pop-Up Fair Trade Stores on Campus

College campuses are full of change-makers and activists like you, making them the perfect locations for hosting successful Fair Trade sales. A pop-up store on campus can be a fundraising opportunity for departments and clubs, or just a great way to raise awareness about socially responsible consumerism.

Get inspired to host your own sale by two schools that recently hosted campus sales, Manhattan College and Bryant University.

Equal Exchange Coffee = Fair Trade Fuel!

At Manhattan College in New York, the School of Business teamed up with Campus Ministry and Social Action for a Fair Trade pop-up store on campus during Christmastime. Manhattan College was the first Fair Trade Certified College in New York City, which means they must carry a certain number of items in their cafeterias and in their bookstore that were produced by farmers and artisans who receive fair wages and can perform their duties in a safe working environment. Aileen Farrelly, assistant professor and assistant dean in the School of Business, said, “Fair Trade embodies our Lasallian values, is critical to the College’s mission, and using fair trade products to launch this project helped our students learn about all aspects of running a business.” The pop-up store was called Fair Trade Fuel and students were responsible for accounting and financing, marketing and publicity.  They sold chocolate, crafts, and clothing to their campus community over the course of three days. It was so successful that they held another sale around Valentine’s Day, selling Fair Trade chocolate and flowers. 

Social Change Marketplace. Photo courtesy of Bryant University.

Bryant University in Rhode Island is becoming known for their Social Change Marketplace, the first student-run program of its kind in the country. Local social enterprises are invited each year to participate as vendors selling their products on campus for a day in December. The pop-up holiday marketplace encourages conscious consumerism during the gift-giving season, and all products featured have a positive social impact. Companies each have their own table set up and talk with students about what makes their products special. Check out their market compilation video from 2017. The popularity of the Marketplace on campus inspired a corporate event at Fidelity Investments and the student organizers shared their successes at the Campus Compact National Conference where colleges and universities gather to build democracy through community development. 

Equal Exchange is an ideal partner for groups who are interested in hosting similar pop-up sales. We offer discounted wholesale pricing to organizations that want to sell organic coffee (in packages or freshly brewed at a coffee kiosk), tea, chocolate bars, olive oil and cocoa. You choose cases of what you want to sell, then mark up the products at prices that help you reach your fundraising goals or just covers your costs and promotes Fair Trade.  We can offer best selling product suggestions, pricing recommendations, and promotional materials to help make your sale a success. Our customer service team is available M-F 9-5 Eastern at 774-776-7366 to help.

Here are our top tips for planning a pop-up sale on campus:

1- Plan early: For a November or December sale, start planning in October so you can reserve a location with lots of foot traffic and coordinate with vendors or wholesalers. Choose a date or a series of dates when people are most likely to shop.  If planning a sale seems intimidating, start small by reserving a table at an existing gift fair. You’ll benefit from the excitement that’s already there.

Photo courtesy of Bryant University.

2- Recruit a strong team: Find volunteers who are interested in social justice but also look for helpers who are studying finances, accounting, sales and marketing. Put a call out for help on Facebook and at the school’s Volunteer or Ministries fair.  Professors are also great mentors to help guide you.

3-Add in multiple vendors and brands: Many other Fair Trade brands offer similar wholesale arrangements for event sales so you can have a variety of products for shoppers to choose from – find them here.

4- Invite the community: Opening up the sale to the public, if you’re able to, is a good way to increase foot traffic. Promote the sale on campus radio, social media, the school newspaper, and get it in the local media too. Doing interviews and explaining why this sale is special will draw shoppers who are looking for unique gifts that are also doing good in the world.

5-Align your sale with activism-focused events: Some of the best and most effective Fair Trade sales happen during Fair Trade Month in October, World Fair Trade Day in May, and Earth Day in April because they capitalize on existing publicity around social, economic and environmental justice.

We’ve got more ideas for Fair Trade events and fundraisers that work great for campus groups!

Ready to get started? Sign your organization up for a Wholesale account to order products at special prices.

Why Switch to Fair Trade, Organic Coffee?

How can you get your group to start using Equal Exchange’s organic, fairly traded coffee?

Based on the questions that come up most often, here are talking points to help energize them to take action.

“Why should we switch our coffee?”

Equal Exchange coffee is better for farmers, better for the environment and better for ourselves. A small change, like a commitment to using fairly traded, organic coffee has a real and meaningful impact in all three areas. If your members want to promote social justice, environmental sustainability and fair trading relationships, Equal Exchange offers an affordable way to connect your values with your actions without sacrificing taste and quality. Share this colorful display sign with your group.

“Why Equal Exchange instead of a different brand?”

Equal Exchange is a worker-owned cooperative started in 1986 with a mission to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate the contribution of worker cooperatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world. Is your current coffee company 100% dedicated to doing the same?

Equal Exchange offers organic, ethically sourced products that you can find in natural grocery stores and cafes, but we offer discounted wholesale pricing to faith-based groups, non-profits, offices and schools so you can access affordable, high-quality and fairly traded products for serving and fundraising. Buying from Equal Exchange, who trades directly with small-scale farmer cooperatives, ensures that more of the money you spend on coffee and other products reaches the hardworking farmers who actually grow them.  Introduce Equal Exchange’s mission with this 2 minute video

“Is Fair Trade coffee really that different from non-Fair Trade coffee?”

Fair Trade is a way of doing business that aims to keep small farmers an active part of the world marketplace. It’s not charity – it’s a sustainable and alternative trading model that helps producers make a viable living and stay on their own land while advancing many economic, social and environmental goals. Long-term trading relationships mean income that farmers can count on, year after year. When you buy a fairly traded product it means that a stable price was paid to farmers, significantly higher than the fluctuating market price. By choosing Fair Trade coffee, you’re supporting a different kind of business model, one without forced child labor and one that is based on dignity and transparency. Fair Trade premiums allow farming communities to collectively decide which development projects they want to use the money on, like improving access to clean water and education.  Small changes we can make surrounding what we choose to consume make a real impact on the quality of the lives of the producers and their families. Read a more in-depth explanation of Fair Trade principles here.

“Does it matter if coffee is organic?”

Conventional agricultural products are steeped in synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Not only does the environment suffer from this overload, but so do the people who live and work nearby. Equal Exchange products are certified organic and produced without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides. Many people don’t want to put foods grown with pesticides into their bodies and have concerns for the safety of the farmers and for the future of our planet.   For more information, read our blog posts on conventional vs organic coffee.

“I see other Fair Trade coffees at stores. How is buying from Equal Exchange different?”

There’s a big difference! Equal Exchange has been fighting for market access for small-scale farmers from the moment we were founded. We’re a worker-owned cooperative whose mission is tied to building a just food system where consumers have choices and feel connected to the people in the supply chains. And Equal Exchange works only with other democratically-organized farmer cooperatives. Buying coffee from one of the big guys means supporting a corporation that may have a few Fair Trade products but isn’t 100% dedicated to Fair Trade like Equal Exchange is.  

Another difference is quality and freshness! Did you know Equal Exchange expertly roasts our own organic coffee in Massachusetts daily with a team of quality control professionals? Each batch of coffee is “cupped” to make sure it meets the consistent and high quality standards we set for our coffees. We seal in the freshness on each package so it arrives directly from us to your door super fresh and delicious! Take a peek inside our roastery in this video.

And Equal Exchange partners with many faith-based relief, development and social justice organizations. Learn more about these special partnerships here.

“Can we afford Equal Exchange coffee?”

Have our wholesale price list on hand to answer this question directly. Do folks know what they pay per cup of coffee from your current coffee provider?  Many of Equal Exchange’s coffee options work out be $0.10 per brewed cup. You won’t find specialty grade, organic, fairly traded coffee for less. Some groups afford it by collecting spare change near the coffee pot or by doing a sale of EE products like chocolate and snacks, marking up the costs slightly, and using the profits to cover the cost of their coffee.

“How does it taste?”

We recommend sharing samples to let the coffee do the talking for you!  We’ve heard that this is one of the most effective way to get the whole group on board. By trying samples, folks can experience firsthand the incredible quality and delicious taste of our products. Buy a few single bags of our coffee or order our discounted Organic Foods Variety Pack and let the decision-makers taste coffee, tea, and chocolate for themselves. Hold a taste-test event with darker and lighter roasts to see what people like best before you buy a full case.  We think our products are all mouth-watering, but read reviews from our customers to see which coffees are most popular.

“Does Fair Trade coffee cost more?”

In most cases Fair Trade products are priced closely to similar high-quality products. At local farmers markets in the US, many people are willing to pay prices that reflect the hard work of small-scale farmers because they know the care that their community members put into the organic cultivation of food on their farms.  It makes sense to people that local farmers should make more than what it costs them to grow a product, so, the same concept should apply to products that aren’t grown locally, right? If you’re paying really cheap price for coffee or any other labor-intensive product, there’s a good chance that someone in the supply chain is being exploited. 

We believe a shift in perception of value needs to take place in the marketplace. Equal Exchange has been dedicated to creating an alternative trading model since 1986 and we are committed to continuing to build this movement.

“Where does the money we pay go?” 

In traditional supply chains, middle men take the lion’s share of the profits.  In Equal Exchange’s case, we ensure that more of the money you pay goes to the farmers because we trade directly with the farmer cooperatives. They are the ones doing the hardest work and taking most of the risk, after all! Actually, by the time you purchase from Equal Exchange, the farmers have already been paid and given pre-harvest financing so they can pay expenses well before products reach the US.A fairly traded product means that the producer has received a guaranteed minimum price for their coffee, regardless of the highs and lows of the commodities market. When the market prices are low, the price a farmer gets for their coffee harvest often doesn’t even cover the cost of production. When the market price is high, Fair Trade premiums paid to farmers increase even higher. Farmers in the Fair Trade system even get additional premiums paid to their cooperatives because they sell organic products. These premiums go towards projects that the farming communities choose to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions. Access to clean water, education, and healthcare are basic human rights everyone deserves. 

“Where does Equal Exchange’s coffee come from and who grows it?”

At the heart of Equal Exchange’s story is our relationship with small farmers. We work directly with over 40 small farmer co-operatives in Latin America, Africa, and Asia to bring you high quality, organic coffee.  We have a variety of videos to share as well as different educational resources like farmer stories on our website.

Four Ways to Get Out the Word

Whether you’re a longtime Equal Exchange partner or you’re brand-new around here, we’re grateful for the hard work you put into serving or selling fairly traded products from small-scale farmers. But you can’t do it alone. You need allies! You need supporters! You need other people to care as much as you do!

This blog post collects resources that will help you spread the good news to others. It’s time to celebrate your past successes and let members of your community know why purchasing ethically sourced coffee and other products is worth doing!


Try some of the following:

1. A bulletin insert with pictures

Does your congregation publish a weekly or monthly bulletin? This can be a great venue for reminding folks about the fairly traded products you sell or serve at worship or meetings. We’ve made it super-easy with a template you can customize. Download the Full-Color e-Bulletin digital template or the Printable Bulletin Template for photocopying.

Want to create your own from scratch? Read this inspiring example of a personalized message and adapt it for your next bulletin or email.


2. Talking Points

Even though you’re committed to supporting fair trade and organic foods, it can be hard to articulate its importance! If you need to provide a quick introduction to someone who’s new to the concept, consider referring to our handy talking points documents. When folks purchase Equal Exchange products, they make a choice that’s better for small-scale farmers, for the environment, and for their own health. Now you can quickly communicate how and why.

This short version (in full color) of our Talking Points can be displayed as a sign.

The longer version (black and white) is double-sided and includes more detail.


3. Infographics

How do you explain a complicated food system? Keep these infographics on hand! They provide a simple, visual way to present facts and show the true impact of ethical trade. Now you can go deeper into the specific issues that interest you and your community the most.

  • Compare our best-selling Organic Breakfast Blend to other coffees on the market here.
  • Find out about human rights violations in the conventional chocolate industry and how small-farmer chocolate makes a difference here.
  • Explore how coffee grown in biosphere buffer zones protects ecosystems here.
  • Demonstrate how every part of our Single Serve cups can be recycled or composted here.


4. Videos

See where our coffee and chocolate comes from and hear the voices of the farmers and quality professionals who make it possible. These videos will take you around the world and behind the scenes at our roasting facility — and will even teach you to brew better coffee at home! We find that they work great for presentations or as social media shares.

Watch our most popular videos here.

Or take a deep dive into every video we’ve shared (on YouTube) here.


A little girl holds a bag of Equal Exchange fair trade coffee.


Your work matters to everyone in our supply chains. Thanks for your support, and for getting the word out!


What have you done to tell people about why you use fair trade? What resources do you wish we offered? Let us know in the comments!

Care Package DIY Ideas

Everyone Loves Getting Mail: Why Not Send Some?

Say hello to a far-away friend, wish a sick loved one a quick recovery, or help your favorite college student settle in — with a fair trade care package! These gift boxes are easy to put together and eminently customizeable.  It’s fun to pick out small treats that you know the recipient will enjoy. If you’re feeling crafty, decorate the box and include personal photos! If you’re a baker, homemade cookies or other snacks make great additions. We love coming up with themed care packages, like the ones in this video:



You Chose It Yourself!

A care package is a special gift you chose yourself! When you pack it with fairly traded and organic contents, you’re showing love for the recipient — and for small-scale farmers and the environment, too! We’ve built a few collections on our webstore to make sending a care package even simpler. Just click on the items you want, and they’ll be added to your cart.

The “We Miss You” Care Package

  • Organic Ginger Tea
  • Organic Breakfast Blend Single Serve
  • Organic Dark Hot Cocoa
  • Organic Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Shop We Miss You >>


The “Hang In There!” Care Package

Shop Hang In There >>


A video of items being added to a care package

What to Say in A Church Bulletin

Your church’s bulletin is a terrific way to let the people in your congregation know why you partner with Equal Exchange. And Fall is the perfect time for a reminder! But what to write?

Maybe an example will help! Here’s a bulletin insert shared by Peter Buck, who works at Equal Exchange and worships at Parish of the Sacred Heart in Roslindale, Massachusetts. Use it as inspiration. Or copy it — Peter doesn’t mind! Just insert your church’s name and the ways you serve or sell Equal Exchange in the second paragraph. Don’t forget to delete the brackets.


That Coffee the Hospitality Committee Buys

We’re all back from the summer. The kids are back in school, or soon will be; or our grandchildren have gone back home; and our jobs and activities are gearing up.

Here at [church name ], we’re getting back into our schedule, including [name of activity #1] and [name of activity #2], using fairly traded products from Equal Exchange.

Fellowship hour is important for building community; it brings us the opportunity to spend time together in the afterglow of worship. It also affords us the opportunity to build community with our neighbors across the world, by enjoying a cup of fairly traded coffee, tea or cocoa grown by small farmer communities and brought to us by Equal Exchange.

Why do we purchase our coffee from Equal Exchange?

Equal Exchange purchases coffee, tea, cocoa beans and other crops from forty communities in twenty countries. They pay a stable, above-market price; they purchase in advance of harvest (when farmers need the money) and collaborate, over the long term, in the sustainable development and empowerment of their partner communities. They sell their products through grocery stores and cafes, and through partnerships with a dozen religious denominations.

What does this have to do with church?

A lawyer asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asks him what is written in the law. Replies the lawyer: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus tells the lawyer he got it right. “And who is my neighbor?” says the lawyer.

Jesus replies with the parable of the Good Samaritan: A man is robbed, beaten and left for dead on the road to Jericho. A priest and a prominent citizen of his own community both see him and cross the road to avoid getting involved. But a Samaritan, a foreigner, a member of a despised community, stops and cares for the victim. So who was the real neighbor, asks Jesus. “The one who showed him mercy” replies the lawyer. “Go and do likewise.” says Jesus. (Luke 10:25-37)

Using fairly traded coffee, tea and other products is one of the many ways we can “Go and do likewise.”


While you’re here, why not download the Full-Color e-Bulletin digital template or the Printable Bulletin Template to add some visual appeal to your message? And read our other tips for spreading the word about Fair Trade.

Fundraising DIY: Create a Goal Board

Image is of a student coloring in thermometer on a fundraising goal board.Rally your troops to create a fundraising goal board and watch those dollars come in!

Creating a goal board as a team is a show of solidarity. It gets your group excited about your fundraiser so they can see exactly what the money means to your organization.

In addition, by showing that thermometer rising during your campaign, you can motivate supporters to buy more and help you reach – or exceed – your goal. So be sure to take pictures and share them frequently throughout your campaign. This invites your community to become part of your fundraiser. In turn, they’re more likely to share your news and progress. The more they share, the more people you’ll reach and the more money you can raise!

To get started, remember to order a free Equal Exchange goal poster when you request your fundraising catalogs (also free) as you sign-up for your fundraiser. The thermometer graphic is the perfect way to get started! The poster(s) will arrive with your catalogs so you can plan your goal board project on the day you hand out catalogs. What a way to kick off your fundraiser! If you wish to start making your goal board earlier, you can download the poster and just print it out. For more graphics, you can even print out other Equal Exchange educational resources.

The next step is to start gathering other materials. For inspiration, look at the supply list below. Keep in mind that it’s best to customize the goal board to be about your organization and what you need funding for. You can include information about your mission, Equal Exchange’s mission and anything else that will motivate!

Suggested Supplies

  • Large firm, flat surface (cork board or foam board)Image is of supplies needed to build a fundraising goal board including paper, bulletin board, scissors, etc.
  • Construction paper or wrapping paper (enough to cover surface)
  • Stapler, tape, glue stick
  • Image of a thermometer (click to download ours)
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Images and text explaining what your fundraiser is for
    • Tip: Use the web, magazines, post cards, photographs, drawings, newspapers, brochures, etc.
  • Information about why you’re fundraising with Equal Exchange
  • If you have incentives/prizes planned for your top fundraisers, be sure to list them on your goal board for extra motivation.

Once you have your supplies together, be sure to have a specific dollar amount for your goal, what you’re raising money for (example: $9,000 for new lap tops) and the dates of your fundraising campaign.


DIY: Build A Fundraising Goal Board

  1. Lay out the construction paper or wrapping paper to cover the flat surface. Once in place, secure.
    • Cork board – secure with an open stapler
    • Foam board – secure with tape or glue sticks
  2. Arrange your components on top of the covered surface (some may require trimming or coloring)
  3. When it all looks good, attach all the components about the fundraiser to the covered surface
  4. Encourage your team to write personal notes or include images of what the funding means to them
  5. Photograph the goal board and share with your participants and supporters
  6. Get updates from your fundraising participants frequently throughout campaign, so you can track the campaign’s progress on the goal board by filling in the thermometer.
  7. Repeat step 5 several times throughout your campaign.


What will your fundraising goal board look like?

We want to see! Share photos of the making of your goal board as well as your campaign’s progress with other Equal Exchange Fundraising Coordinators on Facebook. We look forward to watching you reach your goal!
Image shows a fundraiser's goal board.Image of a fundraiser's goal board.Image of a fundraiser's goal board..

Image of a fundraiser's goal board..

Image of a fundraiser's goal board..





Image of an Equal Exchange Fundraising Goal Board.

Good luck with your fundraising campaign!

Thank you for partnering with Equal Exchange’s catalog fundraising program. Remember, the more you raise, the more you’re supporting authentic Fair Trade.

Mix up a Chilly Chili Mocha


0 from 0 votes

Chilly Chili Mocha

How are you keeping cool and caffeinated this summer? We've worked up this simple recipe for a Chilly Chili Mocha. Or is it the other way around? No matter -- this iced coffee beverage is sweet yet refreshing, with just a little spice to wake up the taste buds. And it's super simple to make at home!
Course Drinks
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword Chili, Coffee, Hot chocolate
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 6 minutes
Servings 1 serving


  • 2 shots espresso or 4 oz of strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 Tablespoon Equal Exchange's Organic Spicy Hot Cocoa mix, heaping
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 12 oz ice in a glass
  • cinnamon or cayenne pepper for garnish optional
  • whipped cream optional


  1. Brew espresso or strong coffee (we used a pour-over method!) and transfer to an empty measuring cup.
  2. Add the Spicy Hot Cocoa mix and stir until thoroughly blended.
  3. Pour mixture into ice-filled glass. Add milk, adjusting to taste, and stir again.
  4. Fill glass to the top with more ice. For extra decadence, top with whipped cream and garnish with a pinch of cinnamon or cayenne power. Or both!
Sip away!
A mocha made with organic spicy hot cocoa sits in a sweating glass, accompanied by a straw and ready to drink.

Set Your Fundraising Dates: Plan backwards!

The best way to set dates for your catalog fundraising campaign is to plan backwards!

As you know, the 40% profits you earn from our catalog program are immediate. You collect money as you sell, then simply pay wholesale pricing for your order. So the best way to plan your campaign dates is to pick the day that you want for people to receive their products. 

This planning guide illustrates how create a successful schedule by allowing enough time for each step throughout your fundraiser. This way, you’ll have your delicious, organic and fairly traded Equal Exchange products when you want them!

Let’s say you want products from your catalog campaign distributed before December 25, 2018.

No matter the day, month or year for your campaign, you must make necessary adjustments for holidays and weekend days that fall into your timeline as they will affect shipping schedules.

Product Distribution

Participants need time to pick up and distribute their orders before December 25th so you need to products to arrive sooner. Because the holiday season causes so many scheduling conflicts, we strongly urge you to allow plenty of time for you participants to pick up and distribute their orders and recommend you count back two weeks (skipping weekend days) and set your distribution day for December 10th.

Shipping & Date To Order

Image of Equal Exchange Worker-Owner shipping product from our warehouse.We guarantee delivery within 10 business days so count backwards from December 10th (do not include weekend days or holidays), and send your catalog order to us before November 26th.

Please note: We highly recommend allowing as much time as possible for shipping, especially around the holidays. Orders too large for UPS require freight delivery, which may take more time. If you have any questions about shipping times, please call Customer Service at 774.776.7366. We’ll be happy to consult with you!

Taking Fundraising Catalog Orders

Allow 3 weeks for your fundraising campaign, but do not tell your team! Instead, allow them only two weeks to sell and turn in their orders to you. This way, you’ll eliminate unnecessary stress by giving yourself an extra week to collect late orders (you’ll be glad you did!) and send your order to us. So, counting back three weeks from when you have to send your order, your campaign’s start date is November 5th.

Ordering Catalogs & Plan Promotion

You’ll need catalogs and your fundraising goal board built before November 5th. Allow yourself a few weeks to receive all of your materials, build your customized goal board, plan your promotions and distribute catalogs. You need to order your catalogs and poster before October 19th!

TIP TO BOOST SALES – This is the perfect time to get your team excited for the campaign! Feel free to forward videos and other resources on our website. This can help you reach your fundraising goal faster.

>> For holiday fundraising, you need to order your catalogs in mid-October!

This timeline example can get your order distributed properly before Christmas. For this time of year especially, you need to allow two and a half months to organize a smooth and successful fundraiser! This schedule did not take into account any unforeseen issue, such as a weather event, so do consider adding in even more time.

Make things easy and take the first step now.

Graphic shows a clipboard with a check list "Sign up early"No matter when you plan to run your campaign, check one thing off your list today and reserve your catalogs now. Just tell us how many to send and when you want them by when you sign up. This way, there’s plenty of time for you to prepare for success!

Smiling children hold a basket filled with Equal Exchange products.

Check out more tips for catalog fundraising to help you raise more money:

Do you have fundraising tips/ideas/photos that you’d like to share to help others succeed? Please join our conversation with other Equal Exchange Fundraising Organizers on Facebook.

Climate Change and Cacao in Peru- Predictably Unpredictable

A steep drop down from the Andes mountains, entering into the Amazon Rainforest basin, two cooperatives just 20 miles apart, simultaneously formed parallel visions. Both the Producer Association of Santa Rosa de Chiriari (APROSAROCH) and the Producer Association of Sonomoro Naylamp (APANS) were founded in 2002 as fruit co-ops, producing bananas and oranges, respectively, for the Peruvian internal market. Around ten years ago, the volatile market took a swing for the worse. The co-ops were unsure if they would be able to continue working in fresh fruits and were forced to look for alternative crops. Both found hope in cacao and have been dedicated to its commercialization ever since.

APROSAROCH and APANS beans are used in chocolate chips blended with beans from two San Martin co-operatives: Acopagro and Oro Verde. In June, two members from Equal Exchange and one from our Canadian sister co-op, La Siembra visited with these co-ops and many of their farmer members. A common theme from our conversations was the challenges around climate change- more specifically the difficulty in predicting the harvest cycle. The wet season is becoming wetter and the dry season is becoming drier. Floods and droughts are becoming more and more common.

Two people smile, holding cacao pods
Javier Perez Campos of APROSAROCH and Dee Walls of EE sample the cacao fruit

For example, last winter 2017, Peru  experienced well above average rainfall in the rainy season. This excess precipitation affected the co-ops with waterlogged soils that delayed flowering and cocoa pod production on the trees and washed out roads that delayed the transport of cacao beans to external markets. This year again, the cocoa harvest is a bit behind schedule, but farmers are learning to adapt with different tree pruning and compost techniques on the farm.

A man holding half a cacao pod.
Agronomist for APROSAROCH Agusto Saldania Oxolón told us of the challenges of climate change on the farm level.

At the same time, warmer weather has changed the climates of nearby mountain foothills, such as in the nearby Llaylla district. Cool, high altitude micro-climates once suited for coffee, are now warming enough to be suitable for cacao. The prevalence of the devastating effects from coffee leaf rust have further encouraged farmers to make the switch to cacao. APROSAROCH and APANS cooperative leaders noted that they have increased in cocoa farmer members from these once coffee-growing regions.

A man looks seriously at the pid in his hand.
General Manager of APANS Luis Rafael cutting open a specialty variety cacao pod on Don Emiliano’s farm.

Our visit highlighted that the hard work and dedication to cacao is at the core of these co-operatives. It is inspiring to know that APROSAROCH and APANS are working closely with their farmers and technical teams to come up with solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Shop Fair Trade Chocolate >>

How to Use Chocolate Molds

Maybe you’re searching for ideas for what to do with leftover melted chocolate from another project or dessert. Or maybe your delicious bars suffered accidental hot-weather neglect and you need a way to use up the squishy, melted results. Never fear — chocolate is wonderfully versatile. We like using chocolate molds to turn liquefied chocolate into treats with a custom look.

Let these instructions be your guide as you melt (or re-melt), temper and form it into all kinds of creative shapes, right in your own kitchen. Break out of the square and try it today!


Shop Organic Chocolate >>


What You’ll Need to Use Chocolate Molds:

-A mold. You can buy specially-made candy molds in fun shapes online and in many retail stores. You can also try old-fashioned muffin tins or silicone ice cube trays. Another option is to position your favorite cookie cutters on a baking sheet covered with waxed paper!

-High quality chocolate. We use Equal Exchange’s Fair Trade and organic Dark Chocolate. Chose one of our specialty bars, like Dark Chocolate Mint Crunch or Dark Chocolate Orange for extra flavor.

-A microwave.

-A microwave-safe bowl.

-A spatula.

-A candy thermometer.


Heart shaped chocolates on a background of white boards, made with chocolate molds.


Step 1: Melt and Temper Your Chocolate

Real chocolate melts at just below 100° F. After it’s melted, it must be re-tempered, so that it will set correctly and retain its sheen and snap. You can do this at home! Chop up a bar and heat it in a bowl for 30 seconds at a time in your microwave at half-power, stopping to stir every time the microwave beeps. When all the chocolate is completely melted, heat it in short bursts to bring it to 115° F. Keep track with the candy thermometer.  Then, stirring the chocolate continuously, allow it to cool to 90° F.

Step 2: Pour Carefully

Pour or spoon the melted the chocolate into your mold. A gentle shaking motion can help the chocolate work into corners and crevices. If you’re making lollipops, this is when you insert the stick! Twist to coat the stick to help it adhere to the chocolate, and then lay it flat in the stick-channel of the mold.

Step 3: Let Chocolate Cool

For this step, patience is required! Set your mold or baking sheet in the freezer, making sure it’s level. Your candy will be ready to pop out in 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the mold. Wipe off any excess moisture with a paper towel and enjoy!

As with all fine chocolate, make sure to store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

… not that there will be any leftovers.


If you’ve mastered chocolate molds, you may like our post on Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

Or sign up for our biweekly newsletter to get all the latest fair trade recipes.