How To Dye Wood With Instant Coffee | What Else Michelle

How To Dye Wood With Instant Coffee

Instant coffee wood stain

Months ago, I bought 6 bundles (10 pcs of 4 x 44 x 1/2″ palochina planks) of second-hand palochina from this supplier. I have used most of the woods for various projects in our house including my DIY sofa. This pallet wall art is one of those.

I am not exactly a fan of palochina’s natural wood color. It’s too yellowish for me and I often see them polished and varnished which make them look too ordinary. I am after a worn out, rustic, vintage look I usually see in Pinterest. Since I am pregnant, I am trying to stay away from chemicals and so I am in experimental mode of using natural materials to finish my DIY projects. This is my first time to stain a wood using what’s available in our kitchen–coffee!

step1-coffee stain

I have used similar brownish wood stain before but I find it too dark, it covers the wood’s natural grains. I want the opposite which is to show the grains and coffee did what I had in mind.

To achieve the antique effect, most of the tutorials I’ve seen in the web use coffee grounds (used, of course) and steel wool mixed with 1-2 cups vinegar which they let stand overnight. I don’t have a steel wool and my husband drinks instant coffee (not the 3-in-1 kind) so I have to use what’s only available.
step2-coffee stain

My first mixture was too light. Remember, you’re not drinking black coffee, you’re staining wood. So, not wanting to use up all my husband’s coffee, I used the rest of my old decaf instant coffee and it worked! Haha! Here’s what I did:

1. Mix 4 tbsp. instant coffee (caffeinated or decaf) with 1/4 cup hot water. (This was enough for my 3 planks but feel free to add using the same proportion if needed.)

2. Apply 1 layer and let it dry outside first (preferably under the sun for fast drying) before applying 2 or more layers.

Also, I’m not sure if it’s because I let it dry in our dry our storage room that it smelled like dried pee after a week or if it was because I used decaf. I did the same thing with our shoe rack but I used regular instant coffee and had let it dry outside. It still smells wonderful!

3. For the last layer, instead of using steel wool to add grayish dimension to the wood, put a small drop of black acrylic paint (I used the one from my acrylic set) in the coffee mixture. But be careful with the black though or your wood would look more like a charcoal than antique wood.

vintage signage

After the stain had dried completely, I sanded the wood using 180 grit sandpaper to prepare it for my “vintage” beach signage. The color kinda faded a bit which I really like. Next, using a white chalk, I drew my letters. If you’re hesitant to draw your letters freehand, you can always print out your letters, cut them, then trace them on your wood.

vintage signage-2

To make my signage a bit realistic, I sanded the letters after the paint had dried. Clean up the powdered paint that had scattered along the edges of the letters by using a damp sponge.
vintage signage-3

Lastly, since this will only be used as a wall art, I used clear gloss lacquer varnish (P58.00 from local hardware store) instead of polyurethane, to protect the wood. Two coats will do.

vintage signage-4

And my finished “vintage” wooden sign using coffee as stain. 🙂  

10 Comments on How To Dye Wood With Instant Coffee

  1. avatar
    The Kitchen Maiden
    August 23, 2013 at 11:50 pm (3 years ago)

    This is pretty awesome! Perfect addition to a patio.. Yeah, varnish is the most economical for us residing here in the Philippines. 🙂

  2. avatar
    September 11, 2014 at 3:17 am (2 years ago)

    In case anyone is looking for other food-safe, non-toxic stains, I’ve recently had great success with a mixture of balsamic vinegar and cocoa powder! Finished product looks like a mid-tone mahogany 🙂

  3. avatar
    Josie H
    December 25, 2014 at 3:54 am (2 years ago)

    I have a wood sign. It’s not sealed but it has ink lettering on it. Do you know if I did this if it would mess up the ink?

  4. avatar
    Pagan Raven
    April 27, 2015 at 10:58 am (1 year ago)

    Michelle – even though you did this year’s ago – I keep coming back for the “recipe” for the stain. Yes, I do write it down but my craft room is always in utter chaos, so finding it is a lost cause. lol
    Your’s is the ONLY stain that doesn’t call for the vinegar and it’s better!
    It doesn’t smell like a pickle (haha!) and it’s the perfect ratio for a deep beautiful color.
    Oh and yes! Using decaffeinated DOES smell like pee! First time I used it and yuck! The smell finally went away but from then on I use regular instant coffee and it just smells like a nice brewed cup!
    Good job, Michelle!

  5. avatar
    Sean Jefferson
    May 23, 2015 at 12:08 pm (1 year ago)

    I used 1/4 cup instant coffee and 1/4 cup hot water, brushed it on and let it dry. Then I used black and brown acrylic paint mixed with water. It made a nice dark, grayish brown color.

  6. avatar
    July 5, 2015 at 10:06 am (1 year ago)

    I used one full cup of President’s Choice dark roast coffee- regular. Put it into a mug, then filled the mug with boiling hot water. I let the mixture sit for 3 days, then used a k-cup to strain the liquid from the coffee grounds. The result was a higher concentration, thus making it more effective as a stand-alone stain. I used pine and only did two coats. It made the would significantly darker. I didn’t use anything but coffee. It looks and smells great! And if you want a darker colour, you could just do a few more coats. Hope this helps for those not wanting to use anything but coffee. I was very pleasantly surprised. 🙂

  7. avatar
    dith reyes
    August 2, 2015 at 4:03 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Michelle! I have a question for U… Why is palochino used as walls or ceilings in steam sauna rooms? THANKS!

  8. avatar
    November 28, 2015 at 3:15 am (11 months ago)

    Can I use regular coffee grounds and have the same effect?


2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on How To Dye Wood With Instant Coffee

  1. […] Here is the finished wall art now. Remember that beach sign? I mounted three palochina planks on the same frame and dyed the wood with coffee. You can read about how I did it here. […]

  2. […] also tried cutting back on processed and fast food by preparing our meals in bulk. And I even used coffee as wood stain instead of store bought one to avoid the harmful chemicals while I was pregnant with Kenya. And […]

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