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Coffee Equity Design Challenge



The Coffee Equity Design Challenge brings together an inclusive cohort of higher education students, faculty, staff, and coffee sector mentors in a collaborative design process. Together, participants co-create meaningful ideas for how we may resolve a specific equity challenge for actors in the global coffee supply chain. The program is designed and facilitated by the Coffee Equity Lab at the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt University’s on-campus center for innovation, and with the generous, collaborative support of the Coffee Coalition for Racial Equity (CCRE).

A sincere thank you to our sponsors!

Access to information and education is one of the greatest barriers to building a more equitable coffee sector for all coffee people and communities. This year, student teams and mentors will focus on advancing standardized understandings of key sustainability priorities in the global coffee sector by responding to this challenge statement: 

How might we standardize and advance industry understandings of key social, economic, and environmental sustainability priorities in the global coffee sector—and the interconnectedness between those priorities—through the creation of a visually compelling, easy-to-understand infographic or other visual educational resource?


The Coffee Equity Design Challenge is organized into two rounds, both of which will take place in the Spring ’23 semester. 

Round 1: Weeks 1-9

  • Student teams participate in 5 coffee sustainability and design workshops with coffee sector and design mentors, gaining critical context and a foundational education in coffee sustainability challenges and opportunities.
  • Teams receive mentorship from a diverse network of coffee sector professionals.
  • Teams create a prototype of their coffee sustainability infographic, incorporating insights gained from workshops and mentorship hours. 
  • All teams submit their prototype to a panel of judges.
  • Judges select up to 5 teams to advance to Round 2.

Round 2: Weeks 10-13

  • Up to 5 teams selected to advance to Round 2 based on the caliber of their prototypes and their ability to respond to the challenge statement. 
  • Finalist teams receive feedback from judges on their prototype and engage in follow-on mentorship sessions.
  • Finalist teams revise their prototypes incorporating judge and mentor insights.
  • Finalist teams submit and present their final prototypes at a final Coffee Equity Design Challenge symposium.
  • Up to three prototypes are selected to inform the creation of the final education resource to be created by the Coffee Equity Lab.


  • Engage students in learning about the complex issues shaping our world through the lens of coffee
  • Equip a new wave of equity-centered designers and systems thinkers with the tools needed to understand complex social-ecological problems and help resolve inequities both in the coffee sector and beyond
  • Foster a culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing in the coffee sector that prioritizes working collectively to resolve our greatest challenges
  • Co-create meaningful ideas for how we may better work together as a sector to resolve the equity challenge described above



  • Visit the Student Landing Page to learn more about how to get involved.
  • Eligibility Requirements: 
    • In the 2022-23 academic year, students must be currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate students at Vanderbilt University. In subsequent years, we will expand participation to students enrolled at other universities, both domestic and international.


  • Consider joining our mentor network if you have knowledge or experience to share about this year’s challenge. Interested? Fill out our CEDC Mentor Interest Survey here.
  • Attend the Grand Symposium in April 2022 and join the conversation.

Does your company want to be a part of the movement to build a more equitable coffee sector for all coffee people? We invite you to consider becoming a sponsor of the Coffee Equity Design Challenge. We offer four sponsorship tiers, each with various perks, which our outlined in our sponsorship packet here. Interested in sponsorship but don’t see an option that fits? We’re open to a conversation! Please contact Hanes Motsinger, Co-Founder of the Coffee Equity Lab and Coffee Equity Design Challenge at