SCA Coffee Design Awards – Coffee World Best Desig...

SCA Coffee Design Awards – Coffee World Best Design

As we live in a golden age of design, good design has never been more important to the success of a business. Consumer awareness of good design is at an all-time high, thanks to companies like Apple and Starbucks, who make design a top priority. The most successful companies know there are compelling reasons to prioritize design to improve the odds of success. Good design creates meaningful first impressions, helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors, can solve problems, and boosts brand awareness and the bottom line.

From dating apps to online shopping, we choose products, services and people based on beauty. According to Adobe, companies with a strong design outperform companies with a weak design by 219% on the S&P Index (a stock market index) over the span of 10 years. In fact, 48% of people surveyed by Tyton Media said that the website design of a business was their number one factor in determining the credibility of that business. So not only is good design directly tied to success, it’s also tied to trust.

Awarding the best design

Coffee industry is no stranger to the importance of the design: cups, equipment, packaging, interiors, brands—everything needs to be designed. We talked with SCA Coffee Design Awards organizers to see what design represents for the coffee industry and how the awards can help brands and companies to get noticed.

The goal of the SCA Coffee Design Awards’ program has always been to embrace the impact of design throughout specialty coffee, initially the program focused only on packaging to help launch the program and assess interest. Following its success, organizers added the new categories such as branding, vessels and spaces.


SCA encourages people from around the world to participate and show their designs, the only criteria are: entry must be new to your company since 12 months prior to submission date and must be available for sale to the industry/open for business; also prototypes are not eligible, it should be a finished physical product that is ready to be sold, basically.

It is interesting that this year due to COVID restriction the award took place only online, and it is not exactly clear how judges can pick the winner without actually seeing, touching and feeling the actual physical product, making decisions digitally. In this case, prototypes in production could participate as well, since the products did not need to be shipped anywhere. Maybe in the future, the award will be open for picking the best project before the production, this way it might help young designers not only be seen as great designers but also look for funding, partners and clients.


Main judging criteria for all categories are:

  1. Innovation and/or Improvements – does the good or service create value for customers? Is it cost effective, resource efficient, and does it satisfy a specific need? Is there anything similar on the market, and if yes, why is this entry better? Is this product in line with consumer preferences?
  2. Design – is the product aesthetically appealing? Is the overall result a positive, creative experience? Does the communication around the product design emphasize minimal material use, recycled/upcycled materials, or minimal energy use?
  3. Education – does the product help you learn more about coffee, coffee systems (scientific, sustainability, social, etc.), or something else?

As entries are open to all, assuming that brands and products from any country can participate, design might differ from place to place, and it can be important to take it into consideration, being familiar with the country and culture of participating brand to be more objective when making decision. As SCA Coffee Design Awards organizers shared with us: “Our judging criteria is largely down to the subjective assessment of our judges. We’ve always prescribed the categories—innovation, sustainability, function etc., but like many other design awards, avoided any attempts to set objective quantitative assessments.”

It seems that the decision goes down to personal taste or likes and dislikes of a particular judge. In this case, how can we keep the game fair and how can a participant understand if he or she fulfills judges’ taste? “Our judging selection pool is always evolving but traditionally contains a cross selection of professionals from SCA’s volunteer leadership and the broader community,” said organizers.

As it is harder and harder to stand out with the great design these days, SCA gives an opportunity to coffee industry to shine and picks the best designs every year. As a prize winners get the access to the CDA Winner Mark for promotional use and recognition on, in SCA News article and in press release, helping young emerging brands to get some awareness.