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Coffee Painting Made Simple

A coffee painting



The drink that so many people depend on to get their day started is not only a tasty morning booster, it's also a great medium to make some really interesting art!


  • Instant coffee
  • A Muffin tin (or just anything that can hold liquid and keep your shades separate, an ice cube tray would work just as well)
  • Water
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paper
  • An idea [:


The first thing to do is to make sure you have a good area to work in. You will need space and good lighting, but that kind of stuff is important for any art you do.

The next step is to create your shades. Start by putting different amounts of the coffee into each of the cups on the muffin tin or ice tray or whatever you are using. I would suggest putting a lot in the first one and decreasing the amount as you go down so your shades are in order like a gradient. In the one that has a lot of coffee add just enough water to dissolve all of the coffee. You will not need too much, but if you do put too much water in and it isn't as dark as you want just add more coffee. Add water to the rest of the cups using a lot in the one with the least amount of coffee to get your lightest color. You can test your shades and if some aren't quite as dark or light as you'd like just experiment by adding more coffee to make it darker or more water to make it lighter.

Once you have your shades, grab your paper and your brushes and have your idea ready to go and go for it! Even if you don't really have an idea, just messing around and painting something abstract is fun too. Painting something random and abstract can also be a good way to experiment and get used to your coffee paints.

Clean up is easy, the paint will just rinse right out of whatever container you used. Worst case scenario is that you'll have to get some soap and a sponge, the horror! Don't worry about your paint drying out either. If it does just rinse it out and make some more. You can buy inexpensive instant coffee at the dollar store so don't worry about going crazy and having to remake all your colors. Make sure to rinse out your brushes so they don't get hard, though. Even if they do get stiff from the coffee it will just rinse right out.

Conclusion and Other Tips

The picture with this hub is a painting I did with coffee. I recently went to Haiti and used one of the pictures I had as inspiration for the painting.

Having pictures to use as references is probably the best way to get your paintings to look the way you want them to. Even if you can't find a picture of exactly what you're thinking of finding something close can at least help. I always start out with a light pencil sketch of my photo or idea before I start so I have a guideline. By the time you're done your pencil sketches won't show through if they're light enough.

The key to a lot of good paintings is starting with a clear idea and a good picture. But there are a lot of amazing paintings that are born from fuzzy ideas and no pictures!

One tip for making a really good painting is paying attention to the contrast. Make sure to use a variety of dark and light next to each other to really make things pop! Shading is important too, pay attention to where the darks and the lights are. Think about where the light is hitting the subject (if there is one) and shade accordingly. If the light is shining from the right the right side of the figures should be lighter and the left sides should be darker. Don't worry if you have one spot too dark. Just get a cup of clear water and apply it the spot, carefully, and it will help thin the spot out a bit. Be careful to not use too much water though because it can and most likely will spread farther than you want it to. The best thing to do to avoid the situation is to just make everything a little lighter and have it get darker as you layer.

Once you're finished actually painting with your coffee you can make copies of your painting and play with it with other mediums. You can try outlining or highlighting parts of it with a white colored pencil or black ink pen. Maybe you want to see what it would look like with some colorful tissue paper modge-podged over the top. Maybe you have a few coffee painting and want to try to collage them together. Some people get creative and keep the coffee theme by incorporating coffee beans in their pictures, too! Whatever you decide to try making copies is a great way to experiment without ruining the original!

This site has some GREAT examples of coffee paintings:

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The most important thing to remember, ABOVE ANY OTHER THING is to just have fun and express yourself! Now, go! Create! Inspire! Have fun!

Coffee painting can have dark and light tones.

Coffee painting can have dark and light tones.

Coffee Bean Art

Coffee Bean Art


Hannah Beam (author) on September 29, 2016:

Cherry, it should not take that long to dry, usually. If it does, you can blast it with a hairdryer and that should help it to dry very fast. If you made your paint dark and thick, it will look shiny and may stay sticky. If your paint is still runny and dripping when your try to move it, you may have used too much. The best practice in that case would be to use thin layers with dry time in between, next time.

Cherry on September 24, 2015:

Hello. May you please tell me how to dry the painting.. Mine doesn't seem to dry and it's been a few days since I've finished..

Hannah Beam (author) on April 05, 2015:

Tat, This would work on fabrics. I've never actually painted with it on the fabric, but I've used coffee to dye it before. The only problem I foresee is having the fabric soak up the coffee and it speeding out too far. To avoid this you could try to make a batik, using something, glue, wax, etc., to resist the liquid and then painting in the lines once try are dry. For more information about batik technique I'd suggest Pinterest, but Google is always helpful too!

Tat Dulenko on December 02, 2014:

Great technique. I wish i can do it on fabrics. Anyone tried? Any tips.

Cathy from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on March 23, 2013:

Hazelle, first, welcome to the Hubs. I thoroughly enjoyed this hub because I've never heard of painting with coffee before and probably will give it a try now. I think this is a great subject you've chosen to write about and I really liked your own painting. Very interesting subject and different. Different is almost always good. Thumbs up.

DommaLeigh on March 14, 2013:

What a kewl idea. Like Dbro, I never thought of coffee as a paint medium, but sounds like something up my alley.

Dbro from Texas, USA on March 01, 2013:

This is a very interesting hub, Hazelle Mae. I have been a watercolorist for many, many years and I have never heard or thought of painting with coffee. I have certainly drunk my share of coffee over the years and inadvertently spilled some on my paintings in progress, but never used it as a painting medium. The examples you show here are beautiful. I am going to have to try this! Thanks for this informative and inspiring article.

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