Introduction: Recycled Coffee As Flocking Powder

About: I play with light

This is an easy, low cost, non-toxic method to make diorama flocking powder out of recycled coffee and (non-toxic) paint.


I was asked to help make a series of dioramas for a friend’s classroom project. Since the project revolved around green spaces and what they mean to us as a society, I wanted to incorporate a practical lesson on conservation as well as arts and crafts. With that in mind, we used as much re-used material as possible, like paper scraps, old shipping boxed, and used coffee grounds.

Coffee was an obvious choice for a re-used material. It is readily available in large quantities in the teachers’ lounge (and in most of our homes), its clean, easy to use, and smells really good. This not only reduced cost, but it showed students that with a little creativity, we could turn large quantities of “trash” into something useful.

So here goes, my first Instructable...


  • Coffee maker/coffee/filter/water (or ask your local coffee shop for the next item and skip to the drying step )
  • Used Coffee Grounds
  • Small Mixing Cup
  • Craft Paint
  • Spatula
  • Small Plate
  • Paper Towel
  • Parchment Paper
  • Wire Mesh Strainer

Step 1: Make a Pot of Your Favourite Coffee

Step 2: Enjoy Your Coffee, Duh!

Let the coffee grounds cool while you enjoy your coffee and gather all your supplies

Step 3: Dry Coffee Grounds


DO NOT attempt to remove HOT coffee grounds. It will cause burns

  • Turn off the coffee maker
  • Open the filter compartment. This will let the coffee grounds cool off and speed up the drying process
  • Wait. When in doubt, just wait
  • Place a paper towel on a small plate
  • Once you are certain that everything is cool enough to handle safely, slowly pull the filter paper with the coffee out of coffee maker and place it on the paper towel-lined plate.
  • Carefully open up the filter to allow airflow
  • Leave overnight to dry

Step 4: Transfer Coffee Grounds to a Mixing Cup

  • Gently lift the filter paper and transfer the dry coffee to the mixing container
  • Fill the cup about halfway with dry coffee grounds
    • The mixture gets fluffy after you mix-in the paint, so do not over-fill

Step 5: Mix With Paint

  • Add paint to the coffee grounds
  • Stir with a spatula
  • Add paint as needed to mix homogeneously
    • Small amounts of water can be added to facilitate mixing, but obviously, it will take longer to dry

Step 6: Dry

  • Transfer mixture to a piece of parchment paper
  • Break up any big chunks with a spatula to speed up drying
  • Dry overnight

Step 7: Sieve Particles

  • Place a mesh strainer over the clean mixing cup
  • Transfer the dry coffee to the strainer
  • Push the particles through the mesh
    • Use the back end of the spatula or the bottom of the paint container

Step 8: Repeat With As Many Colors As Needed

Use as flocking powder as you would any store-bought flocking or ground covering for dioramas, model railroads, doll houses, etc.

Coffee Speed Challenge

Second Prize in the
Coffee Speed Challenge