Some time ago, I made some pretty decent-looking business cards for the band by printing them at home and staining them with leftover coffee. I recently had a small box of cards printed professionally in black-and-white, with the goal of giving them that same patina of age with the stained-coffee treatment.

Simply soaking these cards and baking them in the oven, like I did before, made them all far too even in tone. I quickly realized that the reason the older cards looked so nice was because I had used glossy stock, giving the older cards interesting streaks and blotches.

Cards in Coffee

That wonderful pattern that you can see around the edges of the cards in the bowl, it’s an illusion; it disappeared when I pulled the wet cards out of the coffee solution.


At first, I tried making these newer cards a little more blotchy, making a coffee “concentrate” made from old, bitter chock-full-o-nuts coffee grounds.


I tried dribbling that evilly strong, stale coffee onto the cards, but without much success.


As you can see, this didn’t work very well.

I eventually discovered that soaking dry cards in a shallow tray worked best. The cards would curl up and develop a splotchy, mottled appearance. I filled a spray bottle with coffee and sprayed the tops of the cards unevenly. They came out wonderfully.


I let the cards dry on paper towels, and then put them in a dictionary overnight to flatten out.


They’re still a little curly; Matt tells me his stack of them keep trying to leap off his desk. But they look great, and smell faintly of coffee.