Liquid Optimism — Coffee Monday!


“The first coffee of the day. Pure optimism in a liquid state.”

(Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Prisoner of Heaven; full quote here.)

A friend recently shared this quote and I quickly added it to my list of subject-categorized quotes (yes, I’m a librarian!) that I keep in Evernote. I have used it here, in the first of a series of coffee-inspired etegami, which I’ll feature on Mondays.

The idea to feature my coffee quotes on etegami came today while waiting at The Coffee Bar on S St NW, at 10th St, in Washington DC. This excellent cafe, with espresso and pour-overs and tea, was hipster-crowded today, the first gorgeous day of our short spring in DC, and the service was friendly (thanks blonde guy in the “Beer” t-shirt featuring an image of a bear with deer antlers — get it??) and surprisingly quick.

While waiting, I loved reading their list of coffee quotes on their wall. My favorite is Abraham Lincoln: “If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.” I think they need to add the Zafon quote.

This got me thinking, why not put coffee on etegami? Here’s my first installment.

A note on the color brown: it’s a hard color to work with, so I tried using actual coffee. My set of gansai (Japanese watercolors used in etegami) doesn’t include a proper brown. I usually mix up a batch with various other colors. But using coffee as my muse, and taking a cue from a recent Etegami Newsletter story about using alternative inks, I tried using real coffee as color (Dosankodebbie’s February 2013 edition, summarized here , talks about using other materials for color, from coffee to kale).

I took strong leftover coffee from a French press, added more grounds and hot water, let it sit for about 20 minutes, then dipped my brush in to see if it would work. After adding more grounds, and letting it steep more, it finally got to a dark enough consistency. I worked with my “paint” a couple different ways. First I just dipped my brush directly into the coffee, and painted with that… it left grounds on the paper, which I let dry and then brushed away. Then I poured the super-saturated coffee through a filter, and used the groundless coffee. I prefer the first strategy, because the grounds gave the color a bit more depth.


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