Coffee Talk

Writings by Edward Patrick Kranz (Ezju) about fine art created with coffee. You will find detailed information on Ezju’s works created at No Such Animal Studios and information about other artists who use coffee as a medium.

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

I'll have to think about this one a minute or two. Check back.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Costa Rica Coffee Printing "Cafegrafia®" - Saul Bolanoz

Costa Rica has some very interesting coffee art that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Not just paintings with coffee but also a printing process where they can reproduce images using a coffee printing process. You can get images on cards, coffee filters and even money reproduced in finely ground coffee. To top this off there is a photography printing process that adds a very unique and warm feeling to the photograph.

The printing process is vague. No real detail other than it is printed with real finely ground coffee and is sealed to retain the aroma for many years (under refrigeration.) From their description, you can taste the coffee if you like. I’ve tasted my highly concentrated paint and it’s not what I want to do! They boast that it will not fade in light. I may have to put that to the test. I do like the images they are presenting. These are similar scenes I would like to paint when I start my travels to coffee producing countries.

This started in Costa Rica in 1988 as a photographic process that was termed CAFEGRAFIA® (coffee graphics) or coffee art. It was a process of coffee impression (photographic) directly onto light sensitive ceramic glaze. The ceramic tiles were coated with an emulsion capable of reacting with liquid coffee. Not all the detail was captured in this process. The artist was Saul Bolanoz.

In looking for a process that would retain all details he extracted light sensitive oils from the green coffee berries. This produced an excellent photographic image without handwork at all. It had limitations though. It took 10 minutes to expose, too long for production. The oil was broken down in to oils (it was a combination). Using the oil that was faster time was brought down to 1 minute but was color blind. It was evolved, not sure how, to be sensitive to the full color spectrum and expose in 5 seconds. This was about 1992.

In a third process, silver emulsion was used. By chemical means, the metallic image produced by processing the same, could be made to react with coffee (liquid or powdered). This process was used through 1995.

Soul wanted to print directly to anything, literally. Spoons, plates even eggs. He used small glazed ceramic plates and metal spoons. This ran through 1995.

His 6th coffee imaging process started around 1994 and consisted of 100% coffee images produced on filter paper making it a drinkable art. These became available to the public in 1995.

There is also a section on the web site that shows coffee images on the wood of the coffee plant. The site describes the process in some detail.

I am very curios about all of this. When I go to Costa Rica a plan to stop in a visit this artist if that is possible. I will definitely look into some of the techniques described on this web site and who know, I may incorporate some if the techniques into my work. At the very least I plan to send some of my coffee paintings to be reproduced with the coffee printing technique!

Costa Rica Coffee Art

Ezju's links
No Such Animal Studios (coffee culture painting series)
Coffee Culture Merchandise
Ezju's Blog at SharpLogic Software

Monday, December 26, 2005

Coffee Culture: Clouds in My Coffee

Most of the coffee paintings covered so far in this blog have been of a similar technique, coffee or espresso at some level of consistency applied as a watercolor. Individual artist styles have varied and subject matter has been all over the board. I’ve been working on a new technique, well new to me and coffee that is. En Caustic; using wax as a medium.

The original plan was to paint the local coffee roasters, starting with Caffé Vita, using the en caustic technique to build layers and give the painting a unique industrial feel. The issue that I ran into was coffee is an organic not inert. I’ll explain. When paints are made with water, oil or acrylic pigment is added to the medium until it is saturated. This process forms a solution. These pigments are inert materials like minerals. Coffee when added to the wax has an interesting effect and at best forms a suspension. This effect, no matter how interesting did not work for what I had in mind for the coffee roaster paintings. It did however spark another idea.

Baristas have an art called “latte art” or “foam art”. It’s the designs that some make in the foam on the top of a coffee drink. These images can be quite elaborate or simply beautiful. These designs can appear in what is known as a Rosetta, etching or an apple. I’m sure it’s not limited to these but it seems that these are the major categories. I have even seen some that appear to be the faces of animals or characters. See blog on latte art.

Combining the effects that I discovered with coffee an wax with the latte art concept I started a series Coffee Culture: Clouds in My Coffee. It’s homage to the barista art form. As you look down into your cup of coffee you may see one of the temporary master pieces, and I mean that (you try one), or you may just see your milk or cream swirling around creating a dreamy escape from the stress of the day. This is the driving concept behind Clouds in My Coffee, that and a little Janice Joplin!

I am just finishing up my first show with 9 of these coffee encautics. Early this spring will have another featuring this series and all the new creations. ‘Till then . . . enjoy a cup!

As for the series on the roasters? I will be starting them this spring for a fall or winter show in 2006. I’ll keep you posted and even give a sneak peek here!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pornchai Lethammasiri Enjoys the Challenges of Painting With Coffee

Pornchai Lethammasiri is another artist from Thailand who uses coffee as his medium of choice. I came across his name on

Pornchai experienced some of the same trials and tribulations that I did and I’m assuming other coffee artists have. Texture of the coffee has to just right. I condense my coffee and if done incorrectly is will become elastic and difficult to manipulate on the support. Drying time with coffee is longer than watercolor but shorter than oils and depending on your technique could take weeks in some areas and hours in others. Mold is an issue because coffee is an organic. I use a varnish on my artwork to ensure it is sealed and safe from mold.

His subject matter is very different than mine and even the other coffee artists mentioned in this blog. Waterfalls, distant mountains and boats. Very indicative of his homeland and very beautiful! He got the idea to paint with coffee from the Chinese using tea to tint the background of their paintings.

On of the things that amazes me about this guy is that he does a 30” x 30” painting in about 15 minutes. His work looks like he spent much more time on it. Most of my work takes hours to days to complete.

Full article and a Q&A session with Pornchai

At some point early in 2006 I plan to contact all of the coffee artist mentioned in this blog and more if I can find them to see if they are interested in doing a large scale coffee painting show here in Seattle. To have that many coffee artist together in one place would surely be something to witness. I’ll keep you post on developments.

Ezju’s Links

No Such Animal Studios

Coffee Culture Merchandise

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Prints - Mugs - Calendars of Coffee Culture Paintings!

If you are wondering who this guy is who has a blog about coffee please feel free to visit his web site for more information on the artist and his work.

If you enjoy coffee culture and would like coffee mugs, calendars, magnates and other cool things with coffee paintings on them please visit the artists store at cafépress. Items will be added on a regular basis.

Fine art prints (Giclée prints) are available at the artist’s web site.

Thank you!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Child's Coffee Painting of Tsunami

April 4 was the 100th day since the tsunami.

In keeping with the Buddhist tradition of releasing the spirit of the deceased 100 days after death, many memorial ceremonies were held across the country.

The epicenter of the devastation in Thailand is a town called Khao Lak, which when translated into English means something like 'the highest point'. Because of the severity of the devastation and loss of life in this area, a three day memorial was organized with the final day coinciding with the 100th day.

What does this have to with coffee culture? This image was painted by a child in coffee and was on display at the memorial. It is the child's interpritation of the Tsunomi with a frame of sand.

You should check out the Full article

Part of my goal with the Coffee Culture series is to show the differences in culture and how even something as simple as coffee can be used, viewed and basically affect the culture of a region of world. In this case, a child is using what is available to him in his culture to paint something very traumatic in his life.

In the United States, children don’t paint with coffee. Coffee is something that is enjoyed by adults, for the most part as a leisurely activity. Our children use child safe non-toxic paints to paint with (except mine, she paints with coffee and wax). In other cultures, it is not uncommon to paint with coffee or tea; Columbia or Coast Rica for instance or in this cases a child in Thailand.

Barista Foam Art - Latte Art

It occurred to me that when in a previous entry I mentioned Barista Foam Art or latte art some might not know what I meant. There is a good representation of this art form on flickr (the best way to store, search, sort and share your photos). It is a collection of latte art images from Victrola and elsewhere.

If you have never heard of this fun little facet of coffee culture, please take a look at this collection of images. You will be amazed. If you have noticed when the barista has made a beautiful pattern for you to drink down, you will still be amazed at some of these. Enjoy!

Anything I Could Find From the Earth

I ran across an article about a Romanian artist Simona Carmen Panciu. It was about a recent show in oils but Simona does mention using coffee as pigment, at least in school.

Ms Panciu studied art in Iasi, Romania, first - where she said her art teacher encouraged her to paint using "anything I could find from the earth".

"My teacher, Mr Butnaru, taught me that colours are all around and he encouraged me to look around and use anything I could find - like tea or coffee to get burnt sienna tint, grass or leaves to get green."

Full Article

Of course I tried to Google Simona but found I couldn’t read Romanian so I’m not even sure if the are talking about the same woman. I do know from the article that she is a graphic designer, fine artist, fashion show coordinator and designer, and is a member of the World Art and Culture Exchange Association. She also took first place in the Woman’s Art Exhibition at the Bahrain National Museum back in 2000.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Prison Alumni Coffee Painting - William Frazier

I ran across this article because of the coffee painting by William Frazier but had to go back and read it again because of the rest of the content. This show comprised of works by Connecticut inmates, presented through the Prison Arts Program (part of Community Partners in Action, a nonprofit organization which devotes itself to the rehabilitation of prisoners). Very cool programs. You should read the entire article.

What really sparked my curiosity was about the time I first started to paint with coffee there was a show put on by an inmate from a local prison. Apparently he had been painting with coffee using home made brushes out of toilet paper. He would paint on any small scrap of paper he could find. The guards would take his artwork if they found it so he started to mail them home. It was kind of a self-prescribed art therapy for him to work out issues and cope with prison life. I would very much like to have seen his show but I’m not even sure of his name. If you know e-mail me at

I Googled William Frazier but didn’t find any of his art work. I’ll try again later!

Culture is Alive at Charter Oaks

By: Lindsay Dakan Issue date: 12/13/05 Section: Arts

Selected Paragraph

“The art that comes out of this program is absolutely incredible. All the artists on display at Charter Oak are alumnae of the program who are now building on the creativity they developed while in prison. The exhibit presents a diverse selection of paintings and sculptures (made out of everything from marble and bronze to Styrofoam, soap and cardboard), and all are striking in their own way. Most notable, in my mind, is a painting of a face by William Frazier, done in reds, oranges, yellows and browns (for which coffee was used) that swirl together and dance around downward-cast eyes that simply pop out of the paper. The colors appear to have been blown around the paper with a straw - a method I remember from arts and crafts in elementary school, but with results nowhere near comparable to this work.”

Entire article

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Coffee Painting by Any Other Name is now Arfé

Arfé has been defined as the creation of artworks by staining with coffee.

It has been written that this term may have been coined by the Puerto Rican artist, Francisco Rivera Rosa, to describe his coffee painting technique. The word seems to have come from a combination of words art and café. This would makes Arfé a portmanteau.

Vocabulary word for the day: A portmanteau (plural: portmanteaus or portmanteaux) is a term in linguistics that refers to a word or morpheme that fuses two or more grammatical functions. A folk usage of portmanteau refers to a word that is formed by combining both sounds and meanings from two or more words. In linguistics, these false portmanteaux are called blends.

This information was derived from Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia that is publicly edited and the reviewed for accuracy.

After reading the article, which is paraphrased above and then reading the discussion on the article I have questions as to whether this definition is real. My opinion on it is that even if it wasn’t real to begin with, I’m going to make it real now. I’m going to start using this word to describe my work just for fun.

Another interesting this is that I have done several searches to find Francisco Rivera Rosa online (Google & MSN) to no avail. I may have to take a look at some art history books. I feel I should know this name but I can’t seem to place him. More later. If anyone has any information on him please contact me.

To view some coffee art, please feel free to visit my web site


Friday, December 09, 2005

Elusive Coffee Artist Mira Chudasama

I was dinking around online today and came across an artist portfolio for Mira Chudasama at Following some of her links I found some comments by her and/or another I thought I’d share. I wish I could find more but some of her links are dead. I'll keep looking!

"My experiences with watercolor painting have been more excited. I have heard of using own hand made stone colors by artists. While going through international art techniques and exhibitions, I was really inspired from Thai’s coffee painting. It demands mainly your control and hand over watercolor paintings. It makes me trying and success was not so far ahead. I tried with ‘Coffee’ for my exhibitions where I presented more other 9 medium arts"

"No doubts, this medium’s touch is very challenging. You need patience and creative while making your art with ‘Coffee’ painting. It has more resilient than any other paint. You need to be cautious while using water to thin and proposing shades on paper or canvas. With my painting ‘Carving’, it was just like an examination of my line control skills while using ‘Coffee’ as medium. It has more sparkling and shining. It is quite successful using on ‘Canvas’ rather simple paper as it molds easily. However, Coffee’s mark effect on the paper and the flow of water mixed with coffee is amusing. Further it is good to see as your medium of painting what you use daily and which is near to you" Effects of Coffee Paintings Historical or old buildings, waterfalls, distant mountain, streets in one shade or anything which is kind of brown color can be made with coffee. Uniqueness achieved by coffee painting cannot be delivered by any other medium Other than Coffee Painting, I found ‘Ceramic’ as another good medium to paint with. That gives you emboss effect and you can further give 3D look to certain extend.

The only thing I really have to add to her observations is that coffee is particularly hard to maintain a solid straight line with. It is very cohesive with a tacky surface cohesion that allows it to break and land where it wants with a think application.

Mira's Art Links:

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Coffee Religion

My first coffee painting has brought about comments I had not expected. This piece is entitled Barista with Syrup Bottles. A harmless enough concept. As I watched her from in the dark café, morning light was streaming in the drive through window. Squinting distorted the bottles a bit but the light was too bright. I started to sketch. It was from this sketch that I made the first painting and started the Coffee Culture series.

The comments I receive most about this image have to do with religion and specifically Jesus. Most who view this piece think there is some holy theme or message that I’m trying to get across. At first it was annoying because I wanted everyone to see what I intended them to see.

I’ve read articles on coffee, read books on coffee, spoke to those in the industry and sat waxing philosophical with coffee fanatics in cafes. It hit me like a 100 pound burlap bag full of Columbia’s finest. Coffee silly, what else would I be talking about? The way people worship coffee isn’t too far from religious zealous.

I don’t get annoyed any more when I’m asked about the coffee Jesus light painting any more. I smile and know that they love coffee and they get it.

Barista with Syrup Bottles is 16" x 20" and painted in Starbucks French Roast on Amperstand Smooth Clayboard.

Coffee - Consumed by the Eye Alone

I've looked for more of Chanisa's work online but haven't found her personal portfolio site. There are a few Blogs and sites with her mentioned with images on though.

Her sepia style is as wistful as it is beautiful. From what I gather from the article, her technique is not so different from mine as far as the creation of the coffee paint.

Chanisa uses painting with coffee as a form of meditation. "It is my most powerful meditation method. It brings the faith of my past, the love of my present and the hope of my future to the ‘now' moment," she says. A very wise and powerful sentiment. Beautiful.

It's the age old question. Why coffee? well I hear it quite a bit! My reason is a quest for cultural understanding. Mine and others in the world. I'm painting different cultures through one theme. Coffee. When I'm done there will be a collective work showing how one thing effects and is embraced by different cultures. It will be a very diverse visual description of the world.

I think Chanisa's reason is as wistfuly beautiful as her work. Quoting from the article by Jim Baker.

Arthachinda, a native of Thailand who has lived in Lawrence on and off since 1980, says the idea to use espresso to paint came to her in a dream.

"A wise woman told me that I am a painter. I was aware I was dreaming, and so I asked her what kind of medium the painter was using in the dream," she says.

The next morning, Arthachinda made an intuitive leap that coffee was the answer to her question.

"I just poured my espresso on my canvas" and started painting, she says."

With no formal art training she has produced over 29 coffee paintings. She has earned a doctorate in educational technology from Kansas University, she's a retired architect and has published seven books in Thailand about her childhood emotional growth and parenting.

There is more information on this amazing woman online and in the aforementioned article. If you are interested in reading more about Chanisa Arthachinda you can Google her or visit some of these links.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Not Just Coffee: Coffee + Creativity = Art

When I first started painting with coffee back in 2002 I would get asked if others were painting with the same medium. This is something I had not considered up to that point. If I was doing it surly someone else was, Zeitgeist and all right? I Googled coffee art and one of the first sites I came across was, the Web site of Andy Saur and Angel Sarkela-Saur.

At the time they had several works in coffee but the themes were centered around wildlife, nature and some portraits. None of which made sense to me as to why they would paint these things in coffee. I wasn’t thrilled with their style either. As time went on they started producing works with coffee themes but not many. I’m still not into the subject matter that they choose but their style is growing on me.

Their web site is very well put together and is definitely worth a gander for anyone interested in coffee as a medium.

It has been fun to read about how other artists have made coffee into a medium. In Andy and Angel’s case they experimented with trying to sketch with the bean and grinding it up to make pastels. In my trials, grinding the beans and attempting to suspend them in linseed oil and acrylic can be added to attempted techniques. I found that using coffee as a watercolor worked best as did they. It’s funny how people from different parts of the country or the world can come up with the same idea, trouble shoot the issues met and create beautiful art.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Coffee Art with Humor - Karen Eland

I tend to enjoy a good sense of humor. Combine that with good artwork and you have a winning combination. I came across Karen Eland’s site about six months ago and immediately smiled. Karen’s work is both skillful and very unassuming. Some day I will purchase one of her originals.

Karen paints reproductions of classic paintings such as the Mona Lisa and American Gothic but with a coffee twist transforming them into Mona Latte and Americano Gothic. She is a self-taught artist with plenty of talent and apparently some marketing savvy from the looks of her web site.

The style that Karen uses is different than mine and produces a wonderfully layered and toned image. You should definitely check out her work.

In 2006 I would like to contact each of the artists that I mention in this blog and put together a colossal coffee artist show. I hope that they are receptive to this idea. Time will tell. I’ll post contacts and results here when they come in. I will also post information on this mythical show on my web site