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Index Award 2015 Finalists
Ergonomic container prevents injuries for millions of coffee pickers

To improve working and living conditions for millions of coffee pickers around the world, a young Colombian design student took on an outdated system and came up with a brilliant new solution.

The world’s population go through 2.3 billion cups of coffee every day – that’s 26,450 cups every second. Not many of us, however, know much about how our favourite hot beverage is produced. In Colombia, the second largest coffee grower in the world, coffee pickers negotiate treacherous terrain while hauling 170 pounds of beans in large, awkward buckets that stress their bodies and lead to severe musculoskeletal injuries – all for less than $20 US a day.

To improve coffee pickers’ working conditions everywhere, the Coco is a complete redesign of the existing coffee picking buckets known as sandbags. Beyond their minimal function, sandbags put immense strain on workers’ backs and have sharp edges that dig into their thighs. They're also hard to grip increasing the chances of dropping beans.

The solution? The Coco is a new type of container featuring an indent at the bottom of the bucket mimicking the angle of walking legs, thus eliminating bruising. Coco’s comfortable waist straps and kidney belt includes a custom clasping system, encouraging farm owners to purchase them together. A continuous handle around the container also allows workers to hold the buckets securely, cutting back on accidental drops.

The Coco containers will be manufactured from recycled polypropylene and sold for around $20 US each. In a system where workers earn just 20 cents for every pound of beans they pick, it could be difficult to convince farm owners to pay for these for revamped containers, but the benefits justify the costs: improving workers’ conditions and comfort will improve their productivity.

Designed by
Gabriela Ravassa - Colombia/USA