Coffee, one of the world’s most popular non-alcoholic beverage, is liked by people all over the globe for more than one reason. Though most like to have it in their mugs to drink the rich aroma, some like to have in their colour palettes! Yes, there’s more to coffee than drinking for an artist. Coffee is used for painting. The art form is just called as coffee painting. It is relatively an old art form, however has drew a great attention and popularity in recent times only. Owing to its easy availability, simple to use and the only material required to get ‘many tones’ of colour, it is well-liked by the artists. Though some like it for the aroma of their art work too! Now-a-days, there are artists who specialize in this trendy visual art form.

History of coffee painting

Coffee painting is an ancient art. Earlier, along with tea it was used to colour marble statues so that those appear olden. It is thought that a Thai artist by the name of Pornchai Lerthammasiri had first attempted using coffee for his paintings. He was well known for his water colour paintings. Surely, the credit is his as he is believed of adopting coffee as a challenge and gave new definition and dimension to the then existent forms of art.

The art of coffee painting

Different shades of coffee are easily made just by adding varying amounts of coffee powder, usually instant powder, to water. To get dark hues, the coffee can be boiled and used. Some use coffee leaves, dust or beans in addition to the coffee powder for the art work. Black coffee being the concentrated form produces the darkest colour. Coffee painting is monochromatic, but a great contrast can be produced with a single colour, allowing an artist to create masterpieces. While some may like it for its unitone, others may appreciate it for the classic ‘aromatic’ work of art! It is a wonderful means for an artist to experiment with and compose a new oeuvre. Coffee has unique characteristics that offer unending opportunities and novel possibilities for an artist to discover. Some coffee artists are of the opinion that being organic, it can easily be used to create startling textures, different layers and depths. Moreover, brilliant colours of coffee can impart a unique character to each art work. It may open-up a whole new world of creativity and expression. The carbon-base of coffee makes it very different from the watercolours. A great metallic look can be created by mixing pencil lead with coffee. One can also experiment it along with other mediums such as watercolour, pencil colours, charcoal, etc. to open more avenues for futuristic art. Coffee can be painted on any type of paper without difficulty. A thin coat of varnish applied on the painting can protect it. There are new techniques also available where an UV resistant layer guards the work.

The coffee plant

The most widely grown coffee plant is an evergreen shrub or a small tree preferring cool and less humid climate. The ripe fruits are known as coffee cherries that contain two, or occasionally one, seeds known as coffee beans. Carefully discerned ripe berries are the source of best quality coffee. The characteristic aroma of coffee is due to the chief stimulating constituent caffeine. When consumed in small amounts, it increases mental activity, reduces fatigue and causes wakefulness. It acts as a stimulator to the brain. The leaves also contain caffeine and a decoction from the dried leaves is also prepared in some parts of the world. The flavour of coffee is due to the presence of a volatile oil caffeol. Both the active ingredients are responsible for imparting distinctive qualities to the infusion prepared for drink or the visual artwork created.

If you still think coffee just to be a delectable beverage…………..

Coffee painting provides immense opportunity and creative prospects to anyone who is interested in art. It is for everyone as it is quite user-friendly and easy material to work with without creating a mess unlike paints. The beginners especially can give it a try to learn the painting skills and gradually develop their own style. For the veteran artists, they can experiment with endless possibilities that coffee offers. Though still we may forbid our kids to sip coffee, but we may very well ask them to use it to colour their art! It will be a good way to get started and kill boredom during this time. After all, coffee is now for everyone!

Pooja Gupta

About Pooja Gupta