Coffee Art That Goes Beyond the Cup

A Malaysian café owner is trying to popularize coffee painting

Coffee and art aren’t exactly strangers. There’s latte art, there are the photos and paintings that hang on the walls of your favorite café, and there's even the art of making a good coffee. Yet, you probably haven’t seen coffee used like this before.

According to Malaysian news agency Bernama, Amandawati Zulkifli, owner of Amanda Café in Langkawi, Malaysia, adorns her café walls with paintings made from ground coffee beans. Zulkifli realized she wanted to paint with coffee while cleaning up a spilled drink. "I noted that the coffee stain on the paper appeared as a goldfish," she said. "Since then I have been creating artwork with coffee."

While this may idea strike some as peculiar, coffee painting isn't a recent phenomenon. While the exact origins of this unusual craft don’t seem to be known, many people believe that the Thai were the first to paint with their beans. The idea of painting with coffee is so popular that a couple of artists have even registered the term "coffee art"

Coffee's underground popularity as paint isn't just because it's unconventional, it's also difficult to use. Painting with food poses some unique problems to art’s longevity. Zulkifili says of her experiences, "Mildew had started to grow on the parts where [instant] coffee powder was used … the drawings using only ground coffee beans remained in good condition." Despite initial resistance to her work, attitudes are changing, and many of Zulkifili's customers are now ordering her coffee canvases.

While painting with coffee might not be the next craze, the trend is more popular than it seems. Russians recently created the world’s largest coffee painting, Norwegian artist Josephine Artist sells her coffee paintings online, and American couple Angel Sarkela-Saur and Andrew Saur are dedicated to making and selling of this unique art. The next time you head to your favorite café, don’t just look to see art in your cup, check the walls. You might be surprised to find that coffee is all around you.