How to Stain Wood with Coffee [Fast & Easy]

If you want to get a natural wood color, you could use coffee .Coffee is able to give the wood a brownish color so as to make it appear aged. In this guide, we will therefore explain how to stain wood with coffee.

Coffee grounds can be used to stain very light wood or give it a more weathered look. To do this, place a teaspoon of coffee grounds and white vinegar in a jar. Mix and leave it for 24 hours. Then rub the mixed solution on the wood surface. Wait for the wood to dry before applying a second coat of coffee stain.

How to Stain Wood with Coffee

If you want to renovate your home but have a small budget, then this technique of staining wood with coffee is just what you need. 

Required Materials:

  • gloves
  • sandpaper
  • stain brush or paint brush
  • dust masks
  • white spirit
  • rag or cloth
  • saucepan
  • plastic container
  • plastic sheet

Step 1: Prepare the wood surface

First, it is essential that the wood surface is prepared. It must therefore be stripped, in order to eliminate the previous paints, and possibly bleached. In this way, you will bring your furniture to its original, natural look, ready for a new stain job. 

In order for stained wood to be uniform and beautiful, it is necessary to prepare the surface before staining the wood with coffee. 

For this step you should:

1. Remove the old coating, if present, by grinding, which will not only clean the surface, but also level it.

2. Degrease the wood. Grease stains must be wiped with a sponge soaked in white spirit or gasoline.

3. Remove resin from conifers. Resin found in wood can contribute to staining and poor stain absorption. Thus, it must be treated with a special solution.

Once a homogeneous surface has been obtained (several coats may have overlapped over the years), we can proceed with a new intervention.

If you sand by hand, always do it in the direction of the grain of the wood to avoid stubborn scratches. You can also sand with an orbital machine equipped with suction. 

Wood dust is very dangerous, so make sure you wear your dust mask (minimum FFP2). The surgical mask does not protect against fine sawdust particles.

At this point, perform a good cleaning so that there is no speck of dust on the surface. It is important, in fact, that the wood and also the surrounding environment are clean to avoid gathering dust that would ruin the finish. 

Step 2: Prepare the Coffee Stain

Important Advice!
The rule of thumb for the dosage is that the coffee brew is boiled with about four times the concentration of the drinking version. Alternatively, about 4 tablespoons of ground coffee can be added to 500 milliliters of water. The boiling process remains the same.

To start preparing the coffee-based stain, you will need to grind some coffee and boil it for about half an hour. In this way the coffee powder will release all its color into the water. 

Heat the water in a small saucepan, and when it is at a good temperature, add the ground coffee and let it break the boiling point. Remove the saucepan from heat and let sit for about 3 to 5 minutes so that it is cold at the time of application. 

Add some alcohol (please be very careful to remove the saucepan from the heat to avoid unpleasant accidents with alcohol). Then you will have to let it cool for a few minutes and when it has become lukewarm, you can start mixing it with clear wood varnish. Mix well until the coffee stain has a homogeneous color.

Then filter the coffee stain to completely remove all solids, repeating if necessary. Finally pour into the plastic container, and mix with the vodka (or replace it with ¼ cup of white vinegar, if you don’t have the drink). 

This way you will achieve a concentrated, good-colored coffee wood stain that will be well absorbed without the risk of developing fungus or mold.

Once this is done, you can start staining the wood with coffee.

Step 3: Test the Coffee Stain Color on a Small Wood Surface

To check the shade, we recommend performing a first test on a wooden surface equal to the one to be treated. Once you have checked the result (keep in mind that if it appears too light you can darken it with further passes), spread the coffee over the entire wood surface to be stained, trying to distribute it evenly. 

After you apply the first coat, let it dry. As anticipated, if you want to increase the darkening effect, you can pass other coats of coffee stain until you have obtained the desired color, always waiting for the previous layer of color to dry.

Put down 3 cups and pour 50ml, 100ml or 150ml into it. Then fill all cups with water.

This way you can determine approximately how dark you want to stain the wood. If you find the pure coffee too dark, try the cup with 100 ml of coffee and water or else the cup with 50 ml of diluted coffee with water.

Now you have an indication of the strength of the coffee and you can make a larger amount in the desired strength for all the wood that you want to stain with coffee.

You can of course also dilute the pot of coffee little by little in one go to get the desired effect. Make sure that there is enough coffee for the wood that you probably want to stain in one color. But that is of course not necessary!

Step 4: Stain the Wood with Coffee

Important Advice!
The following instructions are applicable to most stains, however be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the stain you are using.

Lay the plastic sheet on the floor (the coffee stain could stain the work area) and put the wood on top. While the coffee stain is cooling in the saucepan, sand the surface to be stained. 

As we have seen, it needs to be free of varnishes or waxes, which would prevent the absorption of the coffee stain . Once the area has been sanded, clean it with a damp cloth, and without further ado start applying the coffee stain to the wood surface.

Put on gloves if you don’t want to stain your hands! Our further advice, after a few tests, is to use a sponge to pass the coffee and not a brush: the coffee stain tends to spread immediately on the wood and if not taken up immediately it can make stains that will be seen even after all the final coats. 

Therefore, if wood coffee stains drops fall on an wood area not yet treated, they must be widened and spread immediately on the surface with the sponge. Pass it quickly and evenly, in order not to create darker lines.

The application of a wood stain is generally done with a brush or a cloth, start to apply wood stain generously by rubbing in all directions to make the stain penetrate well in the wood surface, the excess must be immediately removed with a cloth by rubbing in the direction of the wood grain. This avoids leaving streaks of coffee stain, this can make marks that are difficult to remove once the stain dries. 

It is better to be generous when applying this will have the effect of quickly saturating the grain of the wood and making the color even by wiping immediately.

Brush it in the same direction following the grain of the wood, trying not to brush twice in the same place to achieve an even tone. Let dry at least 4 hours, and check to see if you need to go over a second coat of color for a deeper, darker shade. 

Let it absorb and dry for 24 to 48 hours, and finish the job by applying wax to protect and hydrate the wood . If it’s outdoor furniture, apply a second coat of wax, or one to two coats of a suitable varnish.

If you do not want to wait, you can simply turn on the hair dryer and dry the stained surface.

With this technique of staining wood with coffee you can color furniture and protect it, so that it lasts much longer.

Step 5: Protect the Newly Stained Wood

Important Advice!
Once the wood stain is applied, let it absorb and dry for 24 to 48 hours, and finish the job by applying wax to protect and moisturize.

You can apply a third coat if needed, the wood can be easily stained with coffee stain, but generally two coats were enough to get started.

As a final finish to protect the wood surface, apply three coats of varnish to set the effect of the stain and add some shine to the wood.

The final step is to spray the varnish on the surface of the wood to protect it. Before doing this, be sure to wait until the wood dries after staining.

Leave it overnight until the varnish is completely dry. After the experiment, I used the wood for a year and did not notice any color changes, which speaks only in favor of natural stains.

Of course, varnish played an important role here, and it should be noted that its use in this case is mandatory. However, do not forget that almost any paint or stain applied to a wood or plywood product needs protection and this is the golden rule of wood finishing.

How to make coffee wood stain

What you need:

  • 1 cup ground coffee
  • 1 ¼ water
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • Coffee filter
  • Preparation container

1. Boil the water and add the coffee, let it cook for a few minutes and remove from heat.

2. Let the coffee stand for 7 or 10 minutes and filter the drink to remove any residue that exists in it.

3. Place the drink in the container and add the vinegar. Mix the preparation.

4. To improve the results, sand the surface you want to stain, then clean with a damp cloth and start staining.


We can step in with completely natural methods to change the look of our slightly outdated furniture and coffee is an excellent natural stain and is perfect for renovating objects and furniture, giving them a warmer and more “lived-in” shade.

I hope this article has help you get accustom to with the technique of staining. It will also answer questions about how to make wood stain with your own hands, what varieties of wood stain exist, and how to stain wood with coffee correctly.

Adrian Tapu

Adrian is a seasoned woodworking with over 15 years of experience. He helps both beginners and professionals expand their skills in areas like furniture making, cabinetry, wood joints, tools and techniques. Through his popular blog, Adrian shares woodworking tips, tutorials and plans related to topics such as wood identification, hand tools, power tools and finishing.

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