A look at the use of coffee as a medium in the art world

Coffee is far more than the watery beverage it once was 20 years ago. From humble origins it has grown to claim a huge part in our lives, from the economy to our daily rituals.

In fact, coffee has become such an important part of our lives that we are now seeing its caffeinated charisma appearing in all sorts of art and media. So read on for the ultimate guide to the techniques and individuals who have turned coffee into a genuine artistic medium.

Micro Coffee Art

This technique involves carving images onto tiny individual coffee beans. Birmingham based artist Willard Wigon carved this portrait of the Queen onto a 2mm coffee bean to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. Invisible to the naked eye, it is believed to be the smallest portrait of the Queen ever made.

Coffee Art Concepts

Coffee has become so commonplace it is in danger of going mainstream. Over at the Coffee Art Project artists are invite to enter a high profile annual competition linked to the theme of coffee.

More than 400 submissions have been entered and exhibited in London, Paris, Milan and Amsterdam, with plans for the next one in New York.

Artists’ submissions range from sculpture and installations to painting, photography and mixed media. All that is required is for the work to link to either coffee or the coffee shop experience.

Previous winners include this painting by J Filament, winner of the Coffee Art Project in Amsterdam 2014 entitled “Drink Coffee = Grow Humaness” and is produced entirely using coffee as the medium.



Coffee Sculptures

Many artists have experimented with coffee beans in sculpture, while some have opted to merely celebrate the whole concept of coffee instead. Below we have a collection of sculptures from around the globe.

Anish Kapoor’s famous The Bean in Chicago is one of the city’s bigger tourist attractions these days. Looking like a giant alien spaceship that’s just landed in Millennium Park visitors are often captivated by the way that the metallic curves reflect Chicago’s intense skyline.


Another stunning and inspiration piece of coffee art is this incredible sculpture by Chinese artist Johnson Tsang. Made using a combination of ceramics and steel the work aims to reflect the influences of bother Western and Eastern culture by using a combination of coffee and tea in the sculpture.