Art made entirely from spilled coffee.

(Photo Courtesy: Jon Norquist)

You see spilled coffee. This vet sees art.

Painting with java brings life to old grounds.

Matt Saintsing
November 16, 2017 - 1:28 pm
There are few things more satisfying in life than that first sip of freshly brewed morning coffee. So, when Jon Norquist discovered his coffee maker was leaking he understandably was a bit irritated.

Rather than sulking, Jon Norquist, a Major in the Army reserves turned his frustration into inspiration and painted the spillage onto a caffeinated canvas.

“I’ve never had any sort of formal training, but I’ve sketched and painted," says Norquist. “One day, I saw the pattern of the spill and I thought to myself ‘you know, I bet I could make art out of just spilled coffee alone.'”

That was just the beginning of what is now Coffee on Canvas, a website where he sells original works of art made solely with coffee.

Norquist stumbled into this art form seven years ago when the annoying spillage made its way onto his kitchen counter. That's when he began taping butcher-block paper to his counters to collect the spills of the daily ritual.

“After a couple of months, and a bit of outlining, you have beautiful art from morning coffee."


(Photo Courtesy: Jon Norquist)

A Philadelphia native, Norquist graduated from West Point in 2004 with a degree in civil engineering. When the Army transferred him and his wife, also a West Point graduate, to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington they were ecstatic.

“My wife and I always wanted to go to the Pacific Northwest and we were real excited when the Army put out there. Then we got out and we stayed,” he says.

Trees, mountains, and other patterns Norquist traces are inspired by the Pacific Northwest, and those have "been pretty darn successful in the Seattle area."

He's been making his art for six years, but only launched his website in July 2016 when he threw a few pieces in his car and drove around the area to see if anyone would be interested.

“I spill it just like you and I when I do my artwork,” says Norquist. The difference, of course, is when he spills coffee he makes caffeinated masterpieces, while I (and probably you) have a few choice words not fit to print.

Norquist prepares the canvas with what he calls a "secret formula." He then pours the coffee drippings into a bowl, dips a mug and as he pulls the mug away the coffee naturally sprays on the canvas. The process is repeated until his coffee creations are complete.

(Photo Courtesy: Jon Norquist)

When it comes to his daily grind, he prefers to paint with and drink Seattle's Best Level Four coffee.

In addition to selling original pieces and prints, Norquist also takes custom orders. He says subjects that work best are ones that have a more detailed drop shadow.

You can check out Jon's coffee art here, or stop by Corina Bakery in Tacoma, where the art is displayed and for sale.