Students Win Design Competition for Whittier College’s Greenleaf Coffee

July 10, 2023

Coffee bagsWhittier College’s coffee orchard program is turning over a new leaf — a green one, that is.

After a design and marketing competition in the spring funded by a $300,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the newly branded Greenleaf Coffee has been revealed for the first publicly available batch of coffee.

The team of Ian Hyland and Olivia Esparza won the $2,000 grand prize for their business proposal, generating the name Greenleaf Coffee and designing the brand’s look.

While Hyland doesn’t drink coffee, the agricultural aspect intrigued the rising senior who has a business major with a minor in graphic design. The name invokes natural imagery while simultaneously paying homage to the Greenleaf Avenue in Whittier and namesake of the college, John Greenleaf Whittier.

“It was a great opportunity and a really cool project,” Hyland said. “I'm very appreciative of it.”

Those interested in market research submitted proposals first, covering topics such as competition and target audience. Then designers read the materials and picked which research inspired them to create items like a color scheme and logo.

“We were really impressed with the feasibility of his,” Associate Professor of Marketing Kristen Smirnov said. “Ian thought of a lot of extremely practical measures.”

Runner-ups Ha My M. Pham and Teresa Chang each won $500 for their market research and design, respectively.

The orchard is home to 64 coffee plants that come in 16 varieties, intermixed with native plants like California poppies and flanked by avocado trees that provide shade and wind protection. Because the 2023 harvest is ongoing, the exact product design and packaging is still being refined. Customers can likely expect unique options such as the delicate and floral geisha or sweet bourbon amarillo.

The competition was just one way for students to get involved with the orchard, which Professor of Biology and Environmental Science Cinzia Fissore created in part to illustrate the interdisciplinary work available in the real world through the lens of coffee, one of the most traded commodities in the world.

“The coffee market is so broad that it really doesn't matter what major they're in, and what kind of mission they have in life,” Fissore said. “There is probably a job there for them.”

One coffee plant produces only about a pound of roasted coffee, so don’t expect to find the bags lining the supermarket shelves. Instead, Fissore plans to pair the beans with fundraising events and other opportunities, hopefully in the fall. The competition is also likely to reoccur for future harvests.