Thursday, March 13, 2014


Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world.  Native to east Africa and Arabia, coffee was first cultivated in Europe in 1616, in India in the late 1600's, and in the Americas in about 1723.  Approximately 45% of the world's coffee is now produced in Brazil.

The coffee plant produces a red or purple cherry-like fruit which grows in clusters.  Each cherry contains two pits, laying with their flat sides together.  These pits are the seed of the coffee plant and are what are referred to as beans. These beans, once roasted and ground, produce the deep, rich coffee beverage enjoyed worldwide.

 Every morning my husband grinds coffee beans and brews a fresh pot of steaming coffee, always making more than he consumes.  Although I am not a coffee-drinker, I do love the aroma that fills the kitchen.  After pouring left-over coffee down the drain time and again, and admiring the deep brown shades of color, I began to wonder if all of this left-over coffee might make a suitable dye.  So I began saving it, pouring it into a jug and storing it in the refrigerator until I had enough liquid for a small dye pot, about 12 cups.

In room-temperature tap water, I soaked a 2 oz. skein of wool yarn for about 20 minutes to open up the fibers and ready them to accept the dye.  The yarn had been pre-mordanted with alum.  After entering the wool into the dye-pot, I brought the temperature to a just below a boil and simmered for about 45 minutes.

The results were a warm, golden brown. Different coffees and the strength of the coffee may produce different results.
Wool yarn, pre-mordanted with alum, dyed with coffee.



  1. I'll bet that is one great smelling dyebath, too.

  2. I'll be interested to see how colorfast this is. That is one gorgeous color!

  3. Lorette, that skein has been laying in a bin with other naturally dyed yarns for over a year. It hasn't changed in color at all. Of course, it is not sitting out where there is a lot of light, either, but I think it will be fairly colorfast. Tea has natural tannins that act as mordant, so perhaps coffee does too. I figure that if I knit it up and it fades, I can always easily over-dye it with more coffee!