Devan’s South Indian Coffee packaging wins Red Dot prizes in 2021 & 2022

Our beloved animal species and brews are at risk from climate change!

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Red Dot Junior Award 2021, Client: Devan’s South Indian Coffee & Tea Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, India, Design: Aishwarya Vasudevan, New York, USA

If you come to our office in Noida in the mornings, sometimes there will be freshly made South Indian coffee. Even though it is made with a coffee machine with a gold mesh filter or by pouring boiling water through a Melita paper filter cone – and not with the typical South Indian or Italian decoction methods, it is pretty good for office coffee. It is generally made from the Peaberry special blend from Devan’s in South Delhi, who source their beans from Karnataka

We generally buy our favorite blend of beans that are freshly ground and vacuum-packed in a plain metallic pouch while we do some people-watching of the regulars in the coffee bar. The cafe is the bigger public space of Devan’s establishment at the far end of Khanna Market near Lodhi Road. On our last few visits, we noticed several attractive half-kilo pouches in various colors with a particular Indian animal portrayed as a graphic – on the top shelf of the store. 

We took a few photos of the packs and the coffee shop through the connecting archway thinking that there is a story in this. More recently, we got into a conversation with the owner, Keshav Vasudevan, and asked him about the brightly colored pouch packaging that has been appearing on the top shelf. It turns out that the packaging is designed by an architect who works as a designer in New York, Aishwarya K Vasudevan – who also happens to be Keshav’s daughter. And that the pouch packaging along with the cartons for cold brew coffee bags won the 2021 Red Dot Junior Award. Subsequently, the ‘Ecoverie’ design that commemorates 60 years of Devan’s South Indian Coffee has won the Red Dot 2022 award for packaging design.

The future of coffee

Devan’s South Indian Coffee & Tea is a 60-year-old business started by Keshav’s father in the same place it is today in 1962. Keshav’s father was an employee of the Coffee Board who decided to quit his job and become an entrepreneur. Recently, the third generation, Keshav’s son Siddhant Vasudevan, also entered the business. A special pouch pack design commemorates the completion of the 60th year of the enterprise.

Keshav explained that the theme of the new award-winning packaging for 2021 and its visuals are related to climate change and the wildlife species that are endangered. He adds that coffee is itself one of the first plant species to suffer from the effects of climate change. As Devan’s Coffee & Tea website says, “As climate change drives pest outbreaks, droughts, heat waves, excess rainfall, and rising sea levels – our beloved brews are at risk! At least 60% of all coffee species are threatened with extinction, which is one of the highest levels recorded for a plant group.

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The pack design and system reflect two themes in parallel – the stronger the coffee, the more endangered their status to climate change.

“With our current climatic regime, the design of our award-winning packaging conveys a new style of awareness about the diminishing species of wildlife in India and their critical status. Using the IUCN Red List data, a set of criteria was developed to choose the animals for the covers of the packs.”

The pack design and system reflect two themes in parallel – the stronger the coffee, the more endangered their status to climate change. The packs for the very strong and strong coffees contain images of critically endangered animal species. The medium strength coffee pouches have images of endangered animal species. And the milder coffee blend pouches contain images of the merely vulnerable animal species.

Devan’s Red Dot prize winning coffee pouches contain a degassing valve – a one-way vent that allows coffee beans and ground coffee to slowly release carbon dioxide (CO2) and other volatile gases from the bag, without coming into contact with the air outside.
Devan’s Red Dot prize winning coffee pouches contain a degassing valve – a one-way vent that allows coffee beans and ground coffee to slowly release carbon dioxide (CO2) and other volatile gases from the bag, without coming into contact with the air outside.

“According to future projections, almost half of the world’s coffee-producing lands will become unsuitable by 2050. Almost 28% of the current coffees are not known to occur in any protected areas,” Devan’s website informs us, referring to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, also known as the IUCN Red List or Red Data Book. Founded in 1964, the IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. www.iucnredlist.org.

The Red Dot Junior Award 2021

In giving the Red Dot Junior Award 2021 (the first prize in the junior category), the organizers said, “This work includes a stand-up bag that holds 500 grams of coffee and a box for cold brew coffee bags. Their design, which is a rebranding project, aims to raise awareness of the impact of climate change. It shows an illustration of an endangered species on a colored background. The stronger the aroma of the respective coffee variety, the more critical the conservation status of the animal depicted. A pattern describing the respective animal decorates the sides of the packaging. By itself, it points to the extinction of the species shown.”

The design of Devan’s coffee pouches by the owner’s daughter Aish Keshav has several other futuristic features that come to mind. The stand-up doy pouches with flaps on the bottom that make them easier to display and to use are produced by Swiss Pack near Baroda. These use a recyclable metalized laminate and contain a one-way coffee valve for gases to escape. 

They are informative with respect to both the source and blend of the coffee and the wildlife species they depict. An entirely exceptional work in concept and execution using a recyclable laminate with an appropriate barrier done by a converter in Gujarat. New packaging technology is used, and South Indian coffee is connected to the climate change that endangers it and educates the community about endangered Indian wildlife. The packaging itself is a heady and pleasurable brew – a creative blend in Devan’s tradition. 

The Red Dot winner 2022 – Ecoverie

Combining vulnerable species and Indian dance forms

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The Ecoverie packaging combines vulnerable species and Indian dance forms

Keshav writes, “Dedicated to our founder, D Vasudevan, from Kerala, the Ecoverie packaging (Red Dot winner 2022 for packaging design depicts a fantasy world where all life forms are equal. All animal represented are either endangered or of vulnerable conservation status, while the human parts shown are of various dance forms found in India. The coffee ecosystem brings to light its vulnerability due to the current climate conditions.” The Ecoverie fantasy design also contains a black and white photo of D Vasudevan.

Red Dot winner 2022. The Red Dot is the award for high design quality. The international jury of Red Dot Award: Brands & Communication Design only confers this seal of quality on projects that convince them with their good design quality and creative achievement. In the ‘Packaging Design’ category, the award is presented to Ecoverie – coffee packaging.

Credits

  • Client: Devans South Indian Coffee & Tea Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, India devans.in
  • Design: Art by Architecture, New York, USA axaish.com

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Naresh Khanna
Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy. Elected vice-president of the International Packaging Press Organization in May 2023.

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