Ever splashed yourself with coffee or sat a dripping cup down on a white tablecloth? Then you're well aware of the beverage's staining powers. But where some see a ruined shirt, others have found a canvas.
For artist Maria Aristidou, it all started with a latte. "I was working on another commission using watercolors, when all the sudden, I spilled all over the drawing," she says.
Rather than trying to wipe up the mess, she took a moment to look. "The accidental spill, the shade of coffee, and how it got absorbed in the paper fascinated me."
Since then, she's continued painting entire images out of coffee. Aristidou feels that she has more control painting with coffee than, say, with a brown watercolor paint.
While Aristidou's subjects are mostly related to pop culture — illustrations of Disney characters, Yoda, or the iconic Afghan girl cover of National Geographic — other artists have turned to more palpable subjects.
Angel Sarkela-Saur and Andy Saur are a married couple who bill themselves as "The Coffee Artists." Together they've been using coffee to illustrate everything from landscapes to images of a French bulldog licking his lips after spilling a cup of joe on the floor.
It took them a fair amount of experimentation before they found the best way to draw out coffee's color. Sarkela-Saur says that their first attempt was using whole roast beans "to see if we could draw with it like charcoal. It didn't work at all." They also tried mixing coffee pigment into a pastel block that "became more of a rock than anything."