How to Stain Wood with Coffee [Non-Toxic DIY Wood Stain]

How to Stain Wood with Coffee

Welcome to the wonderful world of coffee wood staining! This article will show you how to use coffee as a natural wood stain. We’ll cover different types of coffee beans, provide quick tips for applying the stain and give you some ideas for different looks that can be achieved with this amazing hack.

Ready? Let’s jump in!

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies to Make Your Coffee Wood Stain

Coffee is a great way to give your wood an aged, rustic look. To get started, you’ll need to gather your supplies.

You’ll want to get

  • A clean cloth
  • Coffee grounds (this will be your stain color – I used instant coffee granules)
  • A container to mix the grounds and water in,
  • A brush or sponge
  • The kind of wood you plan on staining. I used a ready-made wood sign. You can also make a sign with a scrap piece of wood.
  • Sealant for added protection

In addition to the supplies above (which I linked to Amazon using affiliate links!), you’ll need a printer and a pencil. Once you get your supplies ready, you’re all set!

Step 2: Create and Trace Your Design (Optional!)

Before we can start, we must create our design and prep our project! For this project, I am making a sign for a friend who is a new mama.

I used Canva, an excellent online graphic design platform, to create the design. There are free and paid options. 

And while I pay monthly to use the service, I only use the free functionality to create these images. I mocked up three possibilities for my friend and sent them along for her feedback. These were the options:

Once she’d selected her favorite (#2!), I transferred the image onto the wood. As I’ve mentioned with past projects, there are many ways to do this!

For this project, I taped the image onto the wood panel and traced it with a heavy hand using a pencil. The pencil carves into the wood ever so slightly that you can see the image etched into the wood grain.

How to Stain Wood with Coffee

Step 3: Burn Your Sign (Optional!)

I’m using a ready-made pine wood board I bought from Michaels in this tutorial. For your project, you could use wooden furniture, pallet furniture, or scrap wood – whatever you prefer!

I choose a wood-burned sign because it’s a nice switch up from the usual, hand-painted rustic signs I make and love. Plus, the smell of wood burning is fantastic, just like a campfire.

To burn this project, I first used the little pointed tip to outline my letters. Then I switched to the universal tip, like a flat calligraphy tip, to fill in the words, making sure to go slowly for even color. 

If you’re new to wood burning, you may want to check out this post which has lots of good tips and tricks for beginners. Once you’ve finished burning your sign, you’re onto the fun part! Let’s stain wood with coffee!

Step 4: Use Coffee to Mix Your Wood Stain

I’d done lots of research before starting this project. There are several eco-friendly, pregnancy-safe DIY wood stain options, such as vinegar, black tea, steel wool, or wine (yes, really!). I loved how the coffee looked!

Once you have all of your supplies together, it’s time to start the staining process! Mix the coffee grounds and water in the container until it forms a thick paste.

You’ll want to mix up some really, really, really strong instant coffee.  Or, if you have a coffee maker, brew up a pot of coffee and let it sit for a while.

Before applying the coffee to the wood, I used my sponge brush to paint a light coat of water over my wood piece, going with the grain of the wood.

Why? Your project might be thirsty! If you go in immediately with the stain, the grain could absorb the stain too quickly, resulting in lots of patches and splotches. 

How to Stain Wood with Coffee

Step 5: Apply the Stain (with Many Coats of Coffee!)

Once you have your coffee ready, it’s time to apply the stain! Use a sponge brush (or paint brush or rag) to apply a thin, even coat over the wood surface. 

The trick here is patience. To get the depth of color, you may need to apply several coats, letting each coat dry between applications. 

To get the tone I wanted, I applied three coats of stain. I used a paper towel for the third coat to blot some stains off the project’s middle. 

This way, the edges of my project had a slightly darker tone than the middle. I like the darker stain on the edges and light wood in the middle since that mimics the tone of the wood that aged naturally. Be warned: your sign will smell like coffee for a few days. 

No kidding. If you plan on giving this as a gift, you may want to pre-plan to allow the sign some time to air out. 

I hadn’t planned enough time, so when I shipped the sign to my friend, it still smelled like a barista bar. (Thankfully, she didn’t mind! She’s a new mama with a baby who wakes up a lot. The smell of coffee isn’t bad!)

Easy DIY Woodworking Projects & Ideas for Beginners!

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Whether you’re a seasoned DIYer or just starting out, this guide has something for everyone.

From simple yet stylish projects to helpful tips and tricks, get ready to embark on a creative woodworking journey.

Step 6: Seal and Protect Your Project

Now that we’ve finished the steps to stain wood, let’s talk about how to finish your project. You could put a finishing wax over the top of your piece, which will protect it and give it a matte or shiny sheen. 

My finishing wax is packed away from our cross-country move, so I left the sign stained.

How to Stain Wood with Coffee

Now that we’ve learned how to stain with coffee, let’s look at some commonly asked questions.

What problems arise when you stain with coffee?

Staining with coffee can be tricky, leaving the wood patchy and uneven.

The natural color of the wood may not take to the stain evenly, resulting in an unappealing look. In addition, if too much coffee is used, it can seep into the crevices of the wood and cause discoloration or fading. If you don’t use enough coffee, the stain may not penetrate deeply enough into the wood’s grain to give a noticeable effect.

Coffee stains are also susceptible to fading over time due to ultraviolet light exposure or water damage.

Therefore, using a sealant after staining with coffee is essential to protect your project from further damage. Also, be sure to wear gloves so that you don’t stain your hands brown. Lastly, since coffee contains caffeine, a food source for some pests, proper disposal of leftover stains is necessary to keep unwanted guests away from your work area.

What kind of wood works best for natural stain?

The wood type that works best when using coffee as a natural wood stain depends mainly on the desired effect.

Hardwoods such as oak, walnut, and mahogany are often used for staining with coffee because they absorb the stain well and create a beautiful, deep color.

Softwoods like pine are not ideal for this purpose as they absorb too much color from the coffee and can become discolored or blotchy.

Additionally, it’s essential to consider the type of finish already on the wood—a pre-finished surface may not take well to any kind of stain, while an unfinished piece will be more receptive to it.

If you’re looking for a unique look, try experimenting with different woods to see which one gives you the desired results.

How to Stain Wood with Coffee

What kind of coffee makes the best natural wood stain? Instant coffee?

Instant coffee is an excellent choice for making a natural wood stain. Its dark color and acidity make it the perfect agent for staining. When using instant coffee to create a wood stain, start boiling it in a covered pot on the stove until it reaches a deep, dark color.

Once cooled, strain off any grounds and mix with equal parts water before applying to your wood surface.

Once used, allow the mixture to sit on the surface of the wood for 30 minutes or more before wiping off excess moisture and letting the stain dry thoroughly.

Instant coffee is also affordable and easy to find, making it an ideal option for those looking to give their wooden surfaces a beautiful, natural look without spending too much money.

What can I do with the coffee grounds after I stain my wood with coffee?

Once you have coffee grounds to stain your wood, there are many other uses for the grounds.

You can create a natural air freshener by adding them to baking soda and essential oils. You can also compost the coffee grounds in your garden to add nutrients to the soil. Coffee grounds are also a great addition to homemade soap or body scrub recipes.

Additionally, they can be used as a natural exfoliator when mixed with olive oil and sugar. Finally, coffee grounds are an excellent fertilizer for acid-loving plants such as roses, rhododendrons, and azaleas.

y reusing the coffee grounds after staining your wood, you can help reduce waste and save money on gardening supplies at the same time!

How to Stain Wood with Coffee

How strong does my coffee brew need to be for wood stain?

The strength of the coffee brew you need for wood stain will depend on several factors, such as the type of wood, the desired shade and depth of color, and how long you plan to leave the stain on.

Generally, a stronger brew is better for achieving a darker shade. If you want a lighter color, you may use a weaker brew.

For example, staining a softwood like pine would work best with a medium-strength brew that has been steeped for around 10 minutes before being applied.

For hardwoods like oak or mahogany, it is recommended that you use an even stronger brew that has been left too steep for at least 20 minutes before application.

It is essential to test out different strengths and steeping times until you achieve your desired results.

Do you have to seal coffee-stained wood?

The best thing to do is to seal it with a clear finish. This will help protect the wood from further damage and staining.

Sealing the wood will also help preserve its natural beauty and keep it looking new for longer. The sealer you use depends on the type of wood in question, but generally, polyurethane or varnish works well.

It’s essential to thoroughly clean and sand the surface before applying the sealer so that it can properly adhere to the wood.

Once applied, allow it to dry completely before adding another coat or using any furniture or other items on top of it.

With this simple step, you can ensure that your project looks great for years.

How to Stain Wood with Coffee

How do you use coffee to stain wood?

To begin, prepare a strong cup of coffee using either ground or instant coffee. Once the coffee has cooled, use a clean cloth to apply it to the wood surface.

The longer you allow the coffee to sit on the wood, the darker the stain will become. You may need to apply multiple coats of coffee stain to get your desired color. After each coat, wipe away any excess with a clean cloth and let it dry completely before applying another layer.

Once finished, seal the project with a clear coat of lacquer or varnish for lasting protection.

What household items other than coffee?

Staining wood involves adding a layer of color to the wood, which can be achieved in many different ways. In addition to coffee, plenty of other household items can be used as natural alternatives.

For example, you can use diluted paint or ink for a lighter color effect. Tea is another popular item, as it gives the wood a unique and beautiful amber color.

You can also mix white vinegar and steel wool and let it sit overnight before using it on your wood surface.

Additionally, walnuts and pecans can be soaked in water, then strained through cheesecloth, and applied to the wood surface as an all-natural stain alternative.

Lastly, beet juice is an excellent way to achieve a deep red-brown hue on your wooden furniture or décor pieces.

What does coffee stain do to wood?

When coffee is used as a stain on wood, the tannins cause a chemical reaction with the wood fibers. This reaction results in a change of color and depth of hue.

The darker the coffee, the richer and deeper the color will be. While some woods may darken quickly, others may take more than one application to achieve desired results.

When using coffee as a stain, it is essential to remember that it is not permanent, so regular upkeep of your stained wood is necessary to keep it looking fresh.

Additionally, while coffee has been known to give wood a unique look and feel, it can also discolor some woods, such as oak and pine, if left on too long or applied too heavily.

How do you stain pallet wood with coffee?

Staining pallet wood with coffee is a great way to add a unique look to any project. You’ll need some clean, dry pallet wood and freshly brewed coffee.

Before applying the coffee, sand the wood lightly and remove any dust or debris from the surface. Then dip a rag into your coffee and stain the wood. Apply it to the wood in even strokes. You can also use a brush if desired.

Allow the coffee to soak into the wood for at least twenty minutes before wiping any excess liquid with a rag.

Let it fully dry before sealing it with a coat of polyurethane or lacquer for added protection. With this simple process, you can easily create beautiful stained pallet wood pieces that will give your project an attractive rustic look.

How do you stain furniture with coffee?

Staining furniture with coffee is an easy process that can give it a unique and aged look.

First, you must prepare your piece of furniture by wiping it down with a damp cloth and then allowing it to dry. Next, mix equal parts instant coffee and water in a bowl and stir until the coffee has dissolved.

Then, apply the mixture of stain to the wood using a cloth or brush and coat the entire surface evenly.

Allow the mixture to dry for several hours before applying any additional coats.

Finally, once you’re happy with the color, seal the stained furniture with a layer of polyurethane or wax to protect it from damage and ensure that your desired look lasts longer.

Let’s Wrap Up

In conclusion, staining with coffee can create unique and exciting results. Would you try it?

Not only is it a cost-effective way to add color to wood, but it is also easy to apply and can make any wooden item look much more attractive.

So why not try this fantastic hack next time you look for an easy DIY project? You might be surprised at how great the result looks!