Post written by Kathy Bush, Discovery Agent.

Daily Discovery: Coffee Painting

Use your rockin’ creative skills and make your very own work of art using coffee as your medium!


  • Coffee grounds &/or instant coffee – 1 spoonful
  • Water color paint brushes
  • Paper towel
  • Clean water
  • Water color paper
  • Bottle caps


  1. Tape your paper down if you fear it will buckle while working on it. Use the bottle caps to mix your coffee with fresh water, being careful to use only a little water at a time until you have a good shade. Test until you like what you have. Be aware that your painting will smell of coffee!
  2. Draw two squares for an exercise when first learning to use this medium. Decide which one will be for a layering with coffee and which one will be for water layering.
  3. Paint on the full space with coffee and let dry. The one square that is layered with coffee will be darker with each layer added while the square with water will become lighter. The sun is great for speeding up the drying time!
  4. The paintings from the ground coffee will have a textured look as the grounds will be picked up by the brush. This texture will be delicate as it is easy to brush off, which can take some color off. Ground coffee needs to be fresh when painting. You can reuse coffee grounds for painting but each use will result in a weaker color that is more diluted. Paintings with coffee grounds will be more free form and can lose some definition and/or color as it dries.
    – Instant coffee paintings will be smoother and easy to work with. Instant coffee paintings will acquire a shiny look the more layers you do. It is more durable than ground coffee as it behaves.
  5. Once you’re finished with your painting, it’s time to clean up! Thoroughly clean brushes, especially the ones with the coffee grounds in them as it gets caught in the tips. Have a dirty water cup for cleaning and a clean water cup for re-wetting the brushes. The paper towel is for cleaning the brush and picking coffee up from the painting if desired.


Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

Educational opportunities like this are supported in part by Fort Fund.