Painting with Coffee

For the coffee lover it may seem like sacrilege to paint with what one would rather not waste. Coffee is meant to be consumed. To think of sacrificing the beverage to a piece of paper is unthinkable. The good news is I’m convinced that instant coffee was invented to spare coffeehouse coffee and home brewed coffee from just that. Painting with coffee is just like painting with water colors. While you are limited to shades of brown, you can create your own color palette ranging from the shade of a watered down light roasted cup of coffee to a dark shade of espresso. You can even generate different textures depending on the amount of instant coffee you use.

What you need to begin: 


All items, except the water color paper, were purchased at a local dollar store including the instant coffee, paint brushes, makeup brushes, and coffee snack. I’d recommend brewing a cup of coffee and pairing it with your favorite coffee snack companion before beginning.

Next, you will need to make dilutions of your coffee to create your color palette. I used a 1/4 tablespoon to measure out the volumes. For example, for the 1:1 ratio I used 1 part water and 1 part instant coffee, and for the 1:2 ratio I used 1 part water and 2 parts instant coffee. A serial dilution will work as well.


Next, pick the shade and brush that best fits your painting needs. Each concentration will have a different shade and texture, and depending on the type of brush that you use, the stroke patterns will be different as well. The most concentrated dilution I used (1:5) had what my friend Kathleen described as a “sludge-like” texture and when applied made beautiful henna-like patterns.


The last step is to paint and then allow it to dry. If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can add magazine clippings to your coffee painting (top right) or other spare craft items like the glitter-covered foam hearts (bottom left). Have fun, and send me a picture of your masterpieces – I’ll post and share.

img_0228A special thank you to my friends Kathleen and Linh for painting and decorating the beautiful cards on the top and bottom left. I painted the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis.

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