Full disclosure, I didn’t even know coffee staining was a thing you guys. In ignorant simplicity I lived in my world of pasty white paper options. Wait… coffee and paper put together into a journal I get to write in… while drinking coffee?!?!?! It was clearly meant to be. I kind of dove in both feet and hands, having no idea what I was doing and looking at no tutorials. I had so much fun and learned the technique is quite an art, so I decided to put a tutorial together for the rest of you to follow and learn from my mistakes 😉
How to make your own coffee stained paper
Before you make a journal, you need to stain each piece of paper, this takes quite a bit of time. I considered the sun, I considered the oven, but as I am both impatient and my house is hot, I landed on my handy blowdryer instead, which was epic! The more papers we stained, the more we learned that you can’t just soak the paper and then blow-dry it, the color isn’t near as varied and dark and there is very little effect that we were looking for. It’s about how you blow, it’s about using grains and towels to get different effects, it’s about multiple layers. I know it sounds daunting, but it was SO much fun to do!
Each piece of paper takes about 10 minutes (I know right?) so it took us a few hours to get it all done. At first, we planned on doing 10 sheets but as we went and realized how time consuming it was, we figured we’d better do 15 pages and make it more worth the effort involved. That means we put together a book that has 60 single sided sheets on it (which should last a good long while for what I am using it for).
1. First, you need to gather your supplies:
- 15 sheets of paper, get nicer paper if you can, the cheaper it is, the less color it will hold and the easier it will rip
- scrapbook or kraft or cardstock paper for your cover
- waxed thread or hemp
- a large, thick sewing needle
- a spoon
- a cold pot of coffee (we used hot and our sheets turned out fine)
- a large tray
- extra coffee grounds
- a bone folder or ruler to press your folds
- something heavy to put your journal under after to flatten it
- a towel and a cutting board or something to put the towel on as your work surface
2. Prepare your surface
Put a towel on top of a cutting board (so the paper doesn’t dry to the board)
3. Soak your paper
Pour your coffee into the pan, add about 1 c. coffee grounds for color variance and put your first sheet of paper in, pressing down gently until it is entirely submerged. Let it soak for about 5-7 minutes
4. Remove the paper
Gently lift two edges of the paper. I lifted it in landscape direction and grabbed both edges of the paper, leaving some water and grounds in the middle. Gently lay it on your cutting board surface that has the towel on it.
You wouldn’t think this is complicated but I learned you want to start at the edges and dry those the best you can first and then work your way to the middle. Leaving a small puddle of coffee and grounds in the middle. This way when you get to your puddle you can control how it blows and create designs that look like splashed coffee. Once your paper is dry (the towel will be wetter and wetter as you go so you’ll have to take it off to fully dry it as you go), turn it over to the other side. If you’re experience is anything like mine, the towel absorbs most of the color and your other site is barely off-white. Now it’s time for step 6.
6. Apply grounds and coffee to the other side
Now you want to use a spoon to put more coffee and grounds on the other side. You can do this how you want, it’s like a second stain so it goes on much darker. Some I dipped the edges in, some I put a splash in the middle and blowdried it all around, I kind of had fun with the second side. Then you’ll want to dry it again however you want and make sure it is fully dry.
7. Repeat with all your pages
You’ll need to repeat this with all your papers. To save time, as soon as you pull a paper out of the pan, put a new one in. Usually it works out so that by the time one is finished drying, another one is ready to come out and it goes much faster.
For color variation, put grounds on the towel, that way it will pull color in various spaces and leave splotches that add to the design.
8. Fold each page in half and assemble
Putting it together was not hard, just a bit tedious. I wanted to put this together into a journal or Travellers Notebook insert so I folded each page and the cover separately and used a ruler to make sure they were really creased well. Then I put them into one another (nested them) and sewed them together with some hemp and a large sewing needle. When my book was complete I put it under a large, heavy object overnight to flatten it and painted and sketched on my cover to get the look I was going for.
Why I will make another coffee stained journal
This was just too fun! I can’t get over the smell of coffee every time I open it up. I can’t get over writing on the crinkly pages and the contrast of the black writing on the brown paper. I love everything about it! I love the crinkled edges in my Travellers Notebook. It was just a SUPER fun project! I would and WILL do it again!